June 22 2022 – George Braimah
Every interior home has a visual identity which will comprise of several number of visual cues, such as shapes, symbols, show, pieces, and accents. But the number one visual component that people remember most is colour. In fact, colour increases the appeal and comfort on an interior.
When it comes to interiors, the power of colour is both emotional and practical. On an emotional level, colour can affect how people feel in a space, while on a practical level it can help bring a home to life and make a space more cohesive.
A number of studies on the relationship between colour and emotion reveal that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on colour alone, that colours influence how we view the ‘personality’ of the space in question, and that the relationship between design and colour hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the colour being the right ‘fit’ for the particular brand.
Whether you're a designer or a hone owner, it's helpful to know colour meanings and symbolism so you can make informed and expressive decisions.
This is all well and good, but how do you go about choosing a colour that suits your interior decor? In this article, we will explore the use of colour in interior design and give you an 10-colour guide to help you choose the perfect tones for you.
01. Red – danger, passion, excitement, energy
Meanings: Red has a number of different contextual associations and can deliver a highly visible punch. It has the ability to rev desire; and not surprisingly when it is the colour of fire, danger, and blood on one hand; and love, sexuality and passion on the other. It is a bold, energetic and lively color that can symbolize strength, confidence and power.
Tips for use: Because red has such powerful meanings, it is perhaps best used with discretion.
02. Orange – fresh, youthful, creative, adventurous
Meanings: Blending the warmth of red and the optimism of yellow, orange communicates activity and energy. And of course it’s hard not to go past orange as the colour of, well, oranges, and all their vitamin c byproducts, which immediately makes orange feel fresh and healthy. Orange is not for everyone (it was certainly the colour of the decade in the 1970s) and can therefore tap into associations of youthfulness, creativity and adventure.
Tips for use: Because orange is associated with fun and vibrancy is well suited to youthful, energetic personalities.
03. Yellow – optimistic, cheerful, playful, happy
Meanings: Being the colour of sunshine, yellow puts a smile on your space. It is the most visible colour from a distance and communicates cheerfulness, friendliness, joy and energy (who doesn’t need more yellow in their life?) It can also be associated with mental clarity and intellect (again, who doesn’t need more yellow?) However, yellow is also a cautionary color used in life vests, police cordoning tape and hazardous areas.
Tips for use: Some shades of yellow can look cheap—although this may suit your interior. So yellow is a great example of when to research colour appropriateness and make sure it is the right colour in your space. Make sure to use good design if you want to avoid any feeling of cheapness
04. Green – natural, vitality, prestige, wealth
Meanings: Green has two very common meanings that are quite paradoxical; one being nature and the environment, and the other being finance and wealth. When it comes to nature, green represents plant life and growth and is consequently used to convey being ‘green’ in the environmental, sustainable, organic, natural sense of the word. And of course green is, as the saying goes, ‘the colour of money’ (US money, that is) and therefore associated with wealth and stability.
Tips for use: Pick your shade of green carefully as brighter, lighter greens indicate growth, vitality and renewal; while darker, richer greens represent prestige, wealth and abundance.
05. Blue – communicative, trustworthy, calming, depressed
Meanings: Blue is the most universally preferred colour, perhaps for its very versatile qualities. It is a favourite colour that conveys reliability, trustworthiness, communication and for expressing the authority and officialdom of your interior. It is also appreciated for it’s calming and harmonious qualities being associated with the sea and sky. However, being associated with the emotional feeling of being ‘blue’ it is also used to express sadness or depression.
Tips for use: Blue runs the gamut from corporate and dependable, to calming and tranquil, to feeling down in the dumps. So just like green, choose your shade wisely.
06. Purple – royalty, majesty, spiritual, mysterious
Meanings: Purple is a low arousal colour. It is traditionally associated with royalty, majesty or nobility as well as having a spiritual or mysterious quality. Darker shades often represent luxury or opulence while lighter lavender shades are quite feminine, sentimental and even nostalgic.
Tips for use: Purple is best used for sensual interiors, while women list purple as a top-tier colour, it doesn’t even rank for men.
07. Brown – organic, wholesome, simple, honest
Meanings: Brown gets a lot of use in this era of organic and natural food, beauty, and interior design. Nature inspired it represents a feeling of wholesomeness, orderliness, and being grounded. It is simple, strong, durable and honest and may express that your interior has better things to care about than superfluous colour.
Tips: Use caution with brown as it can remind people of dirt. On the other hand it’s also great to cover up dirt. An earthy colour palette with brown tones, nickel greys.
08. Pink – feminine, sentimental, romantic, exciting
Meanings: Pink has long been (stereotypically) associated with females and is often viewed as being ‘girly.’ However, like all colors, pink is quite diverse and the level of intensity can impact any interior. Pale pink, often represents sweetness while dusty pink can be more sentimental and light pink more romantic. At the other end of the scale, hot pink indicates youthfulness, energy, fun and excitement. A soft pink is now often referred to as 'millennial pink', for the generation's fondness for the blush tone. Soft pink interiors, graphics and more are particularly popular with Generation Y.
Tips for use: Identify the mood and feeling you want to muster and choose your pink accordingly.
09. Black – sophisticated, formal, luxurious, sorrowful
Meanings: Black is. distinctive, memorable and communicative of all interior attributes. Black is to be taken seriously. It represents power, luxury, sophistication, and exclusivity on one hand; and death, evil and mystery on the other. From formality to mourning to power, black is bold, classic and not to be fooled with.
Tips for use: Contrast a bright colour against black; use gold foil for a touch of luxe; or combine it with white for a bold and simple statement. Think about texture and how matte or glossy black.
10. White – purity, simplicity, innocence, minimalism
Meanings: White represents simplicity, purity, innocence, and perfection. White represents the simplicity of the interior pieces in both their form and function. White also comes with a starkness or sterility about it, which is often used be designers to convey a minimalist aesthetic and clean, modern quality.
Tips for use: It is difficult to inject personality into your interior design when using white, so make sure your interior personality is about simplicity, purity, and transparency.