Choosing Colour Schemes – The Psychology Behind Primary Colours

Mood for thought... Choosing Colour Schemes

Maybe it's the changing colours of the seasons or maybe it's nature's fiery warning colours, whatever it is, colour psychology is a pretty innate part of how we think and feel in different environments. Sometimes it’s subconscious whilst other times it’s obvious. Choosing Colour Schemes – The Psychology Behind Primary Colours. Volumes of research has been carried out on the psychology of colour but when it comes to interior design it’s fairly simple to comprehend associated moods and ambiances with different colour schemes. The trick of the skilled interior designer is to play on these inherent associations and weave other colours to sympathise with dominant wall or ceiling colours or to deliberately oppose them. So let's go through some dominant room colours, how they make us feel and how they are best used within interior design about the house, pointing out some pitfalls along the way. In the first article we’ll have a look at the primary colours; red, blue and yellow.


One of our most familiar early learnings is ‘red for danger’. Fire, berries, public warning signs etc. mean red rooms are associated with passion and energy. It’s most suited to the dining room where it can inspire lively discussion and fire up the appetite for food and socialising. There is a real risk of overpowering a room with red however, so choose lighter shades or spice the room with red accessories instead. If you choose a dark red colour scheme ensure the room has enough natural light to balance the mood.


Blue has a clear link to the sky and water in our innermost mind. In less changeable climates a blue sky is taken for granted but in the UK a blue sky is a reason to be cheerful. In the home blue rooms feel calming and soothing and according to some are well suited to intellectual studying. It’s best for bathrooms because of the connection to water, bedrooms and also home offices or studies. Be careful however to choose lighter shades so as not to make a room feel cold, a common pitfall. the room shown in the picture to the left is overpowered by the carpet, not to mention the lampshade.


Yellow is closely associated with the sun and the energy and warmth it gives us. A useful tip is to use yellow shades in rooms that receive little natural light such as those that have windows facing north. Because of its vibrancy and energy glow it’s not recommended for encouraging rest so is best left out of the bedroom but is well suited to kitchens and dining rooms. Studies have shown that for reasons still unclear very rich yellows can exacerbate feelings of distress, another reason to leave it out the bedroom.

In this feature we have covered colour schemes using the primary colours. Beyond them are thousands of potential shades and lights of colour variations to accompany and mix with them. In a second article we will look at more colour schemes and go through some of the more popular secondary colours.

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