We are surrounded by colour all day every day and yet we don't usually appreciate its profound affect on our bodies, minds, moods and behaviours. There are many things to consider when adding colour to your interiors but it's important not to underestimate the colour science connection before splashing out on paint, wallpaper and furniture that will affect us in our home every day. 

What exactly is colour? 

Colour is the scientific phenomenon that produces an emotional response. It is the result of the way our eyes and brain perceive its different wavelengths of light that are reflected off objects and surfaces. Colours with longer wavelengths (red, orange and yellow) are more stimulating, and those with shorter wavelengths (green, blue and violet) are less. These wavelengths are signals that our brains transmit causing a psychological reaction depending on the length, or colour. When colour transmits from the eye to the brain, a hormone is released affecting our emotions.

From Jotun's 2020 Colour Collection 'Free Spirit' (left) depicts a balance between blue and green, while the darker muted plum tone of 'Daydream' (right) has a different affect.

How colour affects our wellbeing

Numerous studies prove that sound, natural light and colour can significantly influence our mental health. Since colour is produced by light through energy and vibration, it has a major impact on our body and mind. Too much exposure, or lack of these elements, can alter our blood pressure, breathing, sleep, anxiety, and physical tension. Therefore, it is crucial that our surroundings produce good vibes with a healthy combination of pleasing textures, light exposure and a sensation-evoking colour palette.

Indigo Living's SS2020 Botanical Home design collection features a brighter ambience

Individual colour perception

Because we are all the different, how we perceive colours is different. Our sensitivity to colour is a result of various factors, such as, cultural differences, life experiences, and genetics. One unique way some of us see colour is a result of a genetic condition called ‘tetrachromacy’, or the ability to see a colour’s undertones. Not extremely common in humans, but most often found in women, this condition explains how most men see ‘pink', ‘green' and ‘white’; while these ‘tetrachromic’ women can describe them as ‘clay’, ‘lime', and ‘bone'. A result of these, and many other factors, certain colours can unconsciously trigger memories and feelings attached to them so it is important that we are aware of how particular colours and tones make us feel when designing our ideal atmosphere. Keep in mind that every person in the space will translate colour differently as well, so be sure to discuss these influences together.

Benjamin Moore's' Salamander' painted walls (left) in a home office setting and Benjamin Moore's Colour of the Year 'First Light' brightens this window alcove

Visualise your ideal world

Try this exercise - close your eyes and imagine the room you are sitting in now. Think about all of the objects, surfaces, and textures that are around you. Imagine you cannot change anything in the room but you can change the colour of anything. Think about the tones and textures that you love, with your eyes still closed…try not to let the objects themselves, budget, or outside influences dictate your colour choices. Just envision your dream environment, your favourite palette.

Did you imagine crisp breezy whites - vanilla, warm cream, and dove? 

Did you escape to a palette of deep earth tones - clay, moss, and river blue? 

Did you indulge in opulent jewel tones - sapphire, chartreuse, and emerald? 

Did you go deep and mysterious - shades of black, gray, and warm neutrals?

Now open your eyes. How does your actual space differ from your vision? Allow yourself to feel the difference in how a single object can alter your attraction to it and how it changes your mood.

Bold colour choices for large furniture pieces greatly affect the mood of a decor, showcased here by the Ming Media Cabinet in aged teal (left) and the mustard Anderson sofa (right)  both from Ethan Allen

Curate your mood

Colour is everywhere - everything around us is reflecting it and we have control over how we feel in our space just by being aware of our own colour conditioning, experiences, and triggers when we buy and commit to what we put into our spaces.

What are your power or calming colours? What tones do you like? What is your palette of colours? As a guide, experiment with objects of colour or choose some images that you love and observe what colours are in the image and list them. You may want to get some paint chips of these colours to see what palette you can create. Try letting go of the common habit buying objects in colours that will only give you longevity, or be ‘safe’. Beige and brown cost the same as your favourite tone of beachy-blue or blush, and will caress your mood a lot more over the long-term. Be confident and have fun with it… thriving in your own colour story will positively improve our mood, energy levels, and creativity.

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