Choosing Colours For The Home

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Feeling blue. Green with envy. In the pink. All commonplace expressions, but have you ever wondered how and why they've slipped into our everyday language? Psychologists have long explored the relationship between colour and mood. For many of us, a particular colour can trigger good or bad feelings based on a personal experience in our past.

Some experts suggest vivid colours like yellow and orange increase our productivity, while other colours influence our perception of the passage of time. (Time seems to move more slowly in a red room, and faster in a blue or green room - or so the theory goes!) Others take the case even further, suggesting colour can affect our physiology. For example, bright reds and yellows are said to increase blood pressure, while blue does the opposite. Orange is said to be an appetite stimulant, while violet has the opposite effect. We are naturally attracted to warmer colours such as red, as opposed to cooler colours like blue. And lighter, brighter colours are known to make a room look and feel bigger; darker, cooler colours the opposite.

The colours we choose also reflect our personalities, according to studies. People who like brown are dependable and stable, while those who favour blue are confident. Lovers of yellow are optimistic and creative, while pink people are - surprise, surprise - more romantically inclined. If you're a green person you're responsible and generous with your time.

While most people don't pretend to understand the 'whys' of colour psychology, it's fair to say we do recognise the general truth in what the experts say. And that truth is self-evident when it comes to choosing colours for the home.

Keeping in mind your own colour tastes, here is some simple, practical advice on choosing colours that will best work on the outside of your home:

  • Start from the top down. In terms of a single point of colour reference, your roof is usually the largest and most obvious feature. So bear in mind the colour you choose 'up top' will influence the choices you make 'down below'.
  • Look around you. Unless you're trying to make a very strong statement about your individuality, you'll want to choose colours that blend and harmonise with both your built and natural environments.
  • Keep in mind how colour can seemingly 'change' according to the time of day or season. Some colours may look warm and relaxing on a sunny day, but might appear more subdued on a cloudy day.
  • Warmer colours create the perception of nearness, while cooler colours make things appear to be further away. Consider this when choosing colours to highlight particular building features.
  • Remember that too much of a good thing isn't necessarily so good! On a complicated design, bright colours may cause sensory overload. Softer colours and complementary accents can help create a more classic look and style.

In the end, colour comes down to personal choice. But whatever the choice, you can be sure it says something definite about you and your lifestyle.

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