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How Can Colours Affect Our Mental Well-being

I was recently asked to contribute to an article in Project Calm Magazine on Colour.

Here is the interview in full, extracts of which were used in the magazine article.

Q. Why is colour so important in a room or home? How it can it impact daily life? Could you please talk a little about the psychology behind it?

A. Colours have the capacity to impact our mood, and have an influence on our mental and physical well-being. There is colour symbolism in which we associate certain colours with certain things depending on our cultural context, but colour psychology is more universal although there are always individual differences. Research in neuroscience and psychology has shown the effect that colour has on our brains and our hormones, and therefore an effect on our mood, behaviour and our physiology. Therefore, the colours that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis can affect how we feel, and therefore the choice of colour in our rooms and our homes is so important. Light is made of colours, and when it strikes our retina, it converts into electrical impulses that passes onto the hypothalamus, which in turn affects our hormones. Different colours have different wavelengths and therefore they affect the endocrine system and consequently our mood and stress levels in different ways.

Q. Deciding on a colour scheme for a room can be incredibly daunting for even the most creative people – where is it best to start with an owed or rented home?

A. It is a good idea to start with a vision or a mood board. Pinterest offers options to find images and colours that you like and create a collection. This can help in identifying themes that appeal to you most. Some people also have favourite colours, and this can be a good place to start. It is also important to think about the space that you are decorating. Is it light or dark, small or big? For a small, dark space, you probably wouldn’t use dark hues that would make the space seem even smaller and wouldn’t reflect any light, unless you are specifically aiming to create that mood. So, it is a combination of thinking of your favourite colours, which colours complement each other, and also the dimensions and use of the space that you are decorating. Think of the kind of interior space and the mood that you want to create. Is it intimate, cosy, light, airy, fresh, and so on? What would it be used for? It might also help to look at trends and see what is popular, although I wouldn’t recommend using trends without any consideration of personal taste. Green is a mood-enhancing colour, and is known to be a very effective stress-buster. This can be included in our homes through the use of plants. Art should not be an after-thought but a carefully considered part of the design process and the colour scheme.

Q. What's an inexpensive way of making a big impact with colour?

A. Colour can be used for impact by making one feature wall in a bolder, darker colour along with lighter shades on the other walls. This is also a great way to start experimenting with bolder colours. Buying accessories in certain colours, such as soft furnishings  and art can also help bring colour into our interiors, and create an impact.

Q. What's the best-kept colour secret?

A. Factors such as gender, colour, our hormonal system, and age can affect how we perceive colour. There is no universally attractive colour.

Q. Is there anything people should avoid or take into consideration when bringing more colour into their lives?

A. I think that there are no rules and there is no magic bullet. But decades of research has thrown up some generalities which can be a good starting point for experimentation. Rather than stereotypical associations, always think about the personality that you want to portray, and how it aligns with your own personality. If you like bright colours such as yellow and pink, try and include them as splashes of colour or feature decorations, to highlight certain features or parts of the room. This will be much more effective than painting the whole room in one single colour. There are certain myths about complimentary colours for instance not using pink and orange together. But when done carefully, this can be so effective, such as how we used it in our logo design for The Art Tiffin (thearttiffin.co.uk). It is all about telling a story. 


Read the full article in Project Calm Magazine July Issue by Sarah Gane. 


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