Colour psychology: wellbeing and the home

What is your favourite colour? I think this is such an interesting question and the answer can reveal so much about ourselves. Why exactly are we attracted to certain shades – but repelled by others? What actually influences our decisions in terms of colour selection? And why does it play such an important role within so many areas of our life, from food to fashion to interior design?

What is colour psychology?

I have always been interested in colour psychology. In simple terms, this is the study of how colour affects our perceptions and behaviours. The truth is that colour can influence virtually everything we do, think and feel. It impacts our mood, wellbeing, opinions, behaviour and emotions. How and why certain colours affect us the way they do is connected to political, economic and historical events. There are accepted conventions (for example, red usually denotes attention, intensity, passion and even danger), but colour can be complicated. Within the “rules”, there are always exceptions. The same colour can have different meanings for different people, depending on a range of factors, including upbringing, gender, personal values, and life experiences. Blue can feel calming for one person, but cold for another. People in Europe and North America tend to associate black with death, whereas in China mourning clothes are traditionally white.

It’s vital to realise that, where colour psychology is concerned, there are no absolutes. Therefore, there are no intrinsically “good” or “bad” colours – it all depends on the way in which we use each colour. I have also noticed that people always respond more positively to their own preferred variation of a hue.

I often think of colour as a language. It tells us something important about ourselves and – whether we realise it or not – influences so many of our life choices. However, we must understand that we don’t just respond to one colour, but to all colours in context.

The clean, fresh yet delicate colour scheme of this luxury flat in Nine Elms Battersea is the perfect example of a Spring personality palette. We added interest to neutrals and pastel pink with a statement shade of teal, to create a light, bright, and classy contemporary interior

Colour psychology in interior design

Colour plays a key role in what we eat, what we wear – and how we live. And I think it plays an increasingly important role in interior design. For many decades, colour has been seen as something that was just for decoration whereas, historically, you would use it to deliver messages. More recently, the role and influence of colour has taken centre stage again after growing in profile and awareness. An excellent example is Pantone’s annual Colour of the Year selection, and how it influences product development and purchasing decisions across a wide range of businesses, including fashion, homewares, technology, industrial design and interiors. Colour can make or break the way we react with the items that surround us, and how we feel within that space. Choosing the right colours for our homes (and workplaces) has been scientifically proven to impact our emotional wellbeing, mental health and performance.


Applying colour psychology to interiors isn’t just about using bold colours, or even about how to combine certain ones. Rather, it is all about using the right colour tone and shade that resonates and expresses your feelings and personality. And, as we are all different, each of us will have a unique colour palette that helps us do that. For many people, this represents a different way to see colour. In other words, it’s not as simple as just choosing a colour that you think you love.

This full refurbishment of a four-floor Victorian house in Chiswick is the perfect showcase for the Summer personality colours. These shades evoke feelings of timelessness, elegance and delicacy. We combined neutral walls with pops of colour and texture to create a light, airy but luxurious contemporary family home

Helping clients with colour psychology

Selecting the right interiors colours for our clients is, understandably, crucial. There are different ways to arrive at the correct colour palette destination. And even neutrals such as grey, cream and beige still play an important role within colour psychological choices. Each individual hue, and its various tones, can have a strong positive or negative response based on how they combine.

It’s important to understand that how we relate to the colours we have in our home often happens subconsciously. And the saturation of colour plays a key role too. How often have you chosen an interiors colour because you liked it on Instagram or Pinterest? However, you are then disappointed because, in your home, it looks nothing like you expected? Believe me, selecting colours is nowhere near as simple as it looks – and so much depends on the amount and type of light your home has, so these two elements must be considered in synergy.


The Colour Affects System

Colour psychology is a huge topic, with many different elements to consider. I am very interested in the Colour Affects System (linked to the four temperaments identified by the Greek physician and philosopher Galen), which psychologist Angela Wright developed further, centuries later.

Wright revolutionised colour theory by identifying links between patterns of colour and patterns of human behaviour. She also found that all colours can be classified into one of four tonal groups. The Colour Affects System identifies links between these four groups and the four basic personality types.

We used bold, modern, monochromatic shades – which typify the Winter personality palette – in this High Street Kensington Apartment. The open plan kitchen and family room combine dark and light elements to create a calm, relaxing sanctuary. Soft greys and white are used throughout, to create an elegant yet still inviting ambience

The people in these groups share certain psychological and physical characteristics. Possibly because of these, they also share aesthetic responses to colour. To simplify, there are four colour families, within which every colour naturally harmonises with every other colour in the family. Each personality type has a natural affinity with one colour group. You divide these personalities into seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Once you identify your own (or your client’s personality), it becomes much easier to plan and create a harmonious colour palette. For example, I am an Autumn personality, with a Summer subordinate. So, I have a natural affinity with warm, rich, earthy colours with a tendency to also like cool blues.

Keen to find out more about how colour psychology and the Colour Affects System could transform your home? Please get in touch to find out more about the design services we offer, or to book a consultation.

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