Colour Psychology - Colour in Your Home

Your choices of colour for your house can have a profound impact on how your home (and the people in it) feel. Are you maximising the potential for colour in your home?

It’s all too easy to opt for simple old Magnolia, but if you want to use more vibrant colours, especially in combination, you need to understand the colour wheel. This really opens up your options, as you can use unusual contrasts for a really unique room.

The Colour Wheel

The basic rule is that colours opposite each other on the colour wheel are complementary, according to Charles Blanc’s colour wheel (the colour wheel which inspired 19th century artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet). Blue and orange, red and green and yellow and violet, then, are the complementary colours created from the primary colours (red, yellow and blue).


  • Monochromatic

This means that you choose different shades or intensities of the same colour and use them in combination, for example a pale blue, then a pale blue with a lighter hue, and one with a darker tone. This is done by adding white or adding black (or grey) so that the basic colour remains the same.

  • Analogous

This approach entails combining one main colour (usually the primary colour) with the two colours either side (usually tertiary colours). It often gives a look a feel of warmth or cool (think cool blue or hot red). Yellow, yellow-orange and orange (think Van Gogh’s Sunflowers) are an example of an analogous colour palette.

  • Contrast

A contrast colour scheme is one which uses colours from different segments of the colour wheel. Red and blue are contrasting, therefore, because red is from the warm half and blue from the cool half of the wheel. The more transitional colours which separate the two colours, the greater the contrast (until they reach “contrasting”, or “complementary”, colours). Magenta and orange, for example, are contrasting, but magenta and yellow or magenta and green are a much higher contrast.

  • Complementary

A complementary scheme uses complimentary colours – opposites on the wheel. This makes it one of the most dynamic colour schemes you can opt for – opposite colours, like combining blue and orange, are guaranteed to add energy – perfect for a room like the kitchen. If you’re wondering how you could combine these colours, think statement wall in one of the colours – a strong blue, for example – with accessories and accents in orange. This orange coffee machine is a great counter top staple to liven up a room. Orange is also said to spike appetite, and leave feelings of warmth and reassurance, so it is perfect for Living and Dining rooms.


Colour and sleep

Colours are also analogous with emotions. Hotels on the move company Travelodge conducted a survey in 2013 which asked an audience about their sleep quality and the colour of the room they sleep in, and drew some interesting results.

Out of 2000 respondents, it was those sleeping in a blue bedroom who slept for the longest. For rooms where you want to be calm and relaxed, blue is ideal – studies even suggest that it may slow the heart rate and even bring your blood pressure down. It is a shade linked to being calm and soothed. Green and yellow are also supposed to nurture feelings of calm and relaxation, and these colours came in second and third in terms of sleep quantity enjoyed by respondents, with blue rooms allowing on average seven hours 52 minutes, yellow bedrooms seven hours 40 and green seven hours 36.

Colours to avoid in the bedroom include purple, as it is too stimulating, and grey and brown, viewed as too dreary. These came in at the bottom of the Travelodge survey, with those sleeping in a purple bedroom enjoying only five hours 56 minutes of shut eye!

Chris Idzikowski, a Sleep Expert from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre commented on Travelodge’s discoveries, saying:

“[t]his is an amazing result, as there are specialised receptors called ganglion cells in the retina part of our eyes, which are most sensitive to the colour blue. These receptors feed information into an area deep in our brain that controls 24 hour rhythms, and affects how we perform and feel during the day. That interaction between light, sleep and wakefulness is supremely important.”

Who knew that colour was so crucial in helping you get a good night’s sleep? Make sure to match up both your colour coordination and the moods you intend to create in your room in order to get a room that is both harmonious and works for you!



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About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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