Choosing Colour Schemes – The Psychology Behind Other Colours

Mood for thought...

Having already looked at the effects the primary colours have on the ambiance and mood within our surroundings this naturally leads us to consider other colour schemes. Every shade and colour used in modern interior design is a mix of other colours, the likelihood is that if you visited ten houses in a day the only time you’ll see a full red is on a post box on the journey. In fact, aside from researching examples of fresh contemporary room designs, homework for this article was to investigate the number of different paints available for one colour group from just one hardware store to assimilate ourselves with the choices consumers face. We counted twelve shades of matt green water based paint available and that’s before you start introducing the different emulsions or paint types on top, and green is a mix of blue and yellow anyway. So below are some more examples of colour schemes, the aura they emit and how (and how not) to use them in the home.


Green reminds us of our symbiosis with nature, it is the colour we most associate with spring and new life. In the home shades of green give an ambiance of calm and stability which is why they are most well suited to living rooms and bedrooms. If you want to add an opposing colour to spice up the room without losing the restful essence of the green walls or ceiling then try adding some red or orange items in too.


Pink is the colour with the biggest gender divide, with men having a predisposition for disliking it (in public anyway). Traditionally in modern times it’s been introduced to girls at an early age as the colour of choice, see left, and so in boys a phobia is born. It’s actually a very restful colour and can be passionate too, an ideal mix for the bedroom so it shouldn't be eliminated altogether just because you’re married to a six foot tall ale drinking prop forward. Overcome the girlie undertones of this colour scheme by using dark browns or black.


Orange is a tricky colour to get right especially if there is an abundance of natural wood, say on solid oak doors for example. Overuse of orange can induce nausea but its warmth and energy mean it can be sparingly and carefully used in dining rooms and communal areas. It’s not recommended for bedrooms as it is not a particularly restful colour.


If you’re looking for a more spiritual essence in a room then colour schemes in lilac might be the choice for you. Like pink however, it has very feminine undertones but it’s ideal for designing a sanctuary for winding down and stress relieving. Commonly used in bedrooms and bathrooms it’s often accompanied with silver and black.


Different shades of purple can have very different emotions. Dark purples are connected with the underworld and have connotations of death, sex and dark magic. Light purples on the other hand are symbolic of creativity and fertility. White and purple are often seen sparingly used in living rooms although it’s important to have a good source of natural light. The picture (right) shows a good balance of white, purple and pink.


Brown is obviously a very earthy colour. It can be seen as a ‘dirty’ colour but bronze tints combined with greens or blue can induce a much livelier sensation. It gives off a sense of security and stability and brown colour schemes are also very practical for walls if you have dogs! The room in the picture (left) is heavily overloaded with brown, weighed down by the wooden furniture with overly bold brown stripes on the walls and even exposed wooden flooring. Throw in a chisel and it could be Geppetto's workshop.


Black is a very tricky choice to get right. No doubt it is certainly dramatic and must be used in moderation as it absorbs the light in a room. It works well with silver, purple and well placed mirrors to counteract and balance the dark. Alternatively, the picture (right) shows the dining area of a kitchen using just blacks and whites which works but the floor must be kept clean or it'll start to look like a barbers. But it’s very difficult for many people walking into a room with lots of black to shed the feeling that you've just walked into a teenager's bedroom where all that’s missing are the Metallica posters and a collection of zippo lighters. Used wth careful consideration though it can look amazing.

Good luck in choosing the colour schemes that are right for you and your home's interior. There is certainly a lot of choice out there...

Images courtesy of Phiseksit / David Castillo Dominici/ &

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