Mood is one of those hard-to-define but easy-to-feel aspects of interior design. Not quite the same as style, it will determine how you, your family and your guests feel in your home, and it can make or break the particular interior. When thinking about the mood, colours are extremely important. A careful choice of colours can enhance mood and create a feeling of comfort and well-being, a feeling that the space is “just right”.
When choosing furniture, don’t just think of whether you like it. Think about how it will look and feel in the new surroundings of the room in your home, and consider the colour scheme. You can choose the furniture to match the existing decor and colour scheme in the room, or decorate to match the furniture.
With this in mind, there is some useful colour theory as well as rules and principles used by professional interior designers which will help you to create your colour scheme.
The Amazing Colour Wheel
As well as specific colours affecting mood in a specific way, it is well known that certain groupings of colours are more pleasant than others. Colours can be chosen to vary in tone, harmonise, or complement each other. Complementary colours tend to be opposites, for example: red with green, blue with yellow or orange with purple. Subtle shade differences matter here, and when planning your colour scheme, a colour wheel is an extremely handy tool.
A colour wheel is used to find the exact hue of a complement (opposite) for each colour. This makes choosing colours much easier.
Basic Rules for Combining Colours
Use a single colour base and extend it using its shades, tones and tonal variations. Such monochromatic schemes create a powerful sense of coherence, but on its own can be overwhelming. Adding some contrasting (complementary) accents can add some welcome variety.
Pick two or more colours which are near each other on the colour wheel, for example yellows and reds. Such colours will harmonise and create a more tranquil or relaxing atmosphere.
Pick two or more colours which are opposite each other on the wheel. Such complementaries (opposites) will allow you to balance the scheme, but at the same time introduce more contrast and create a more dynamic impression.
Colour and Mood
When deciding on specific colours, think carefully about the mood you want to create. Different colours have different kinds of effect on mood and some colours and colour schemes are better for certain types of room.
Cool colours, such as blues, greens and violets are conducive to relaxation. Warm colours, such as yellows, oranges and reds are all energetic, evoke feelings of excitement and stimulate. Be careful: too much of a vivid warm colour can induce agitation or even anxiety.
Red: Energetic, dangerous, passionate. Red can be good for dining rooms to encourage a sociable dynamic and create a lively atmosphere, but in larger quantities can be overpowering and may be difficult to live with. Use more muted reds or apply red sparingly if you want to avoid fight-or-flight effect on the mood.
Pink: Traditionally represents romantic love and in lighter hues is good for bedrooms, especially if you want to create a feminine, softer mood. Too much pink can feel sugary-sweet and sickly, and even the girliest, pinkest rooms are better with some background neutrals.
Orange: A stable, warm reassuring colour that is good for living rooms. Well-placed orange accents can infuse a home decor with warmth, optimism, and energy, making any room look more cozy and earthy.
Green: Represents hope, and is natural and calming. Because it’s so common in nature, green can feel neutral and create a mood that’s both restful and focused. Green can be used pretty much anywhere, and is particularly good for living rooms and bedrooms.
Blue: Calming, soothing and contemplative. It can make the room feel colder, and induce sleepiness (especially in more muted hues). Blue is good for bathrooms and bedrooms.
Yellow: Bright, sunny, highly energizing and stimulating to the mind. Reputedly enhances perception and thinking. Yellow is particularly good in the kitchen, in dining rooms, and as an accent in spaces where mental work takes place, such as your home office. Large swathes of bright yellow can be disturbing, so, as with all vivid colours, use with discretion.
Purple: creative, sensual, and magical but has some negative associations and can be overpowering, so it’s better used sparingly. Purple is known for stimulating imagination and focused attention, and purple or lavender accents can help with creative work. Softer and muted purple hues, such as lilac, evoke spiritual and mystical associations and are considered feminine, though pastels in general can feel insipid and are best enlivened with stronger shades.
Brown: secure, traditional and stable. Good for living rooms, especially in classic styles, though can feel stuffy. Enliven brown furniture with vivid accents, for example bright cushions on a brown sofa.
Black: dramatic, often eccentric, and luxurious. Can be negative and depressing in large quantities, so use sparingly or avoid on walls in living areas.
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