Getting to grips with colour: the cool shades

Continuing on the theme of how colours affect us, today I will tackle cooler shades of the spectrum: Green, Blue, Purple.


Green is regarded as a soothing colour, relaxing and calming, healing and balanced. It is widely associated with safety and ecology.  As a dominant colour in nature, it works well with a wide range of colours.  Green can generate feelings of hope, of growth, and is often linked to fertility.

Green also represents naivete and new-ness, and certain shades are associated with sickness or nausea, so it is not the best colour to use where an impression of authority is required, or in the food business (or at least, the right shade needs to be chosen with care).

The table and mix n’ match chairs create a strong impact here by being painted the same shade of green. Combined with the Green pendant lights and gorgeous flowers, a feeling of spring freshness is generated, whatever the season outside.

Blue is often a ‘favourite’ colour, appealing almost equally to both men and women, perhaps due to the sense of calmness and peace it often generates, or perhaps the idea of blue skies and open space.  Blue carries authority but is not overwhelming, and is associated with trust, reason and logic.

A rich, velvety feeling is achieved in this desk area by painting both the walls and ceiling a deep blue. Layering of accessories, cushions, and mixing up furniture styles help keep the space from feeling cold.

Blue is a very restful colour, helping with concentration, reflection and communication.  However it can also be a cold colour, and can make people  who are already feeling down or depressed feel even worse.

Blue is a good colour to use in areas for rest or study, but less so for areas where a high level of activity and motivation need to be stimulated.





Purple can be a very rich opulent colour, with historical associations with power and wealth, dating back to the Phoenicians (the word Phonecia means ‘land of the purple), where the very rare purple dyes were first produced.  It is an inspirational colour, and creates feelings of ceremony and importance.  Depending on whether it carries more red or blue in the shade, it can stimulate or calm.

Purple is linked with spirituality and meditation, although stronger shades can be overbearing and depressing.  Purple can easily appear ‘bad taste’, though the following example of a teenage girl’s bedroom avoids that by pairing the purple with plenty of contemporary furnishings, rather than lots of sparkly or fluffy accessories.


Getting to Grips with Colour – the warm ones

So many people I talk to are afraid to use colour in their home, but colour is one of the easiest ways to create an amazing space. You don’t necessarily need much, sometimes just a flash of something intense here and there can help enliven those neutral walls.

Colour has a profound impact on us all. We react emotionally and physically to the dominant colours around us – whether we are explicitly aware of it or not! Today I will talk about the warmer colour groups  (Red, Orange, Yellow) in terms of how they make us feel, and how we can use them.

Red is an attention-grabbing colour, associated with power, danger, passion and agression.  It is a colour of strong emotions and high energy. Red is a stimulating colour, from appetites to action, and is a warm – hot! – colour.  As Red is a stimulating colour, it can be used to keep people moving, for example in fast food restaurants, where fast turnover is key and you don’t want people to linger too long.

Red can increase stress, heart rate and blood pressure, and is a tiring colour to spend long periods of time with.  It is therefore a great colour to use where a sense of activity and occasion are needed, but not for a place of rest or reflection.  The use of red in the bedroom shown below would be great for playing music, brainstorming ideas, and jumping around, but difficult to unwind and rest in.

In a domestic setting, it is great for dining rooms or a place for lively exchanges. Used sparingly, it can be wonderful for bringing sparks of energy, focus and warmth to a relevant colour scheme.



Orange is  a warm, friendly and fun colour, thought to be reassuring and optimistic.  It is a stimulating colour but perhaps in a more constructive way than red, and can help creative, intellectual and physical performance.  As with Red, Orange stimulates the appetite, and is an energetic colour. It is well suited to a family kitchen as illustrated below, but not one to use in a bedroom where the occupants suffer insomnia.  It would be a good colour to use in a children’s playroom, a designer’s studio, or an environment where teamwork is important.

The kitchen, with its orange feature wall in the cooking area, conveys a high energy feeling, and seems like a place which would be full of laughter.









In the kids playroom, the orange wall hanging and accessories create lots of visual stimulus for a playful atmosphere.


Yellow is a sunny colour, bright and cheerful, optimistic and uplifting. It is known for stimulating intellectual activity, increasing concentration and speeding up the metabolism.  It is another attention-grabbing colour, highly visible, often used for warning signs, road signs etc.

On the down side, yellow is also a very tiring colour to look at, due to the high amount of light reflected back from it.  Yellow also can make people irritable, with babies in particular being affected by this colour, crying more often and for longer in yellow rooms.  It can negatively affect motor skills in the elderly.

Due to its positive associations, yellow is a popular colour in interior decorating, but perhaps should be used with caution/in moderation, to ensure that the positive attributes don’t overwhelm and become negative in their effect.  The rich, dark colours of the interior here are given even more impact and ‘pow’ effect by using just the right amount of yellow.

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