4 Mood-Boosting Ways to Use Colour Therapy to Style Your Home

If you’ve ever felt strangely depressed sitting in a room and can’t exactly pinpoint the reason behind your sudden shift in moods, you could blame it on the interiors. 

We are constantly influenced by our surroundings, and colours play a huge part in this. For example, if you’re surrounded by light pastels, you’re more inclined to feel calm and positive. On the contrary, if you place yourself in a room where colours are harsh and bright, you could either feel motivated or angry and annoyed. 

But this doesn’t mean you should repaint every room in your home a light hue because specific rooms call for specific colours. Plus, colour therapy doesn’t just translate to the paint on the walls; you can use materials, textures and lighting to create the perfect space that serves a purpose for your mental health. Here, interior designer and owner of MARG. Studio Emily MacAlpine, explains how to execute this.

How to use colour therapy to style your home

You firstly need to consider the primary function of each room. Ask yourself ‘what is the main activity of this space and how do I want to feel?’

From there, pick a predominant colour and tone. 

“Essentially you can use any colour in your home in any room, but be mindful of how you use it,” MacAlpine tells Bed Threads Journal. “The tone of a colour and its application will dramatically change the way you perceive it and feel.”

You also need to take ‘aspect’ into consideration.

“Aspect plays a big part in how colour will look in a space and should be taken into account,” MacAlpine adds. “Northern light is generally perceived by the human eye as much warmer and therefore it draws out warm tones in colours, which make them feel even warmer.” Just take Dulux’s Lamb’s Ear Quarter. The green-white tone appears “too yellow in northern light”, yet can look white if facing south and evoke warmth. 

On the contrary, Porter’s Paint Mist - a more blue-white tone - “makes a north-facing space feel fresh as it counteracts the warmth of the northern light”. 

“Ideally, you want to use the opposite paint colour temperature than the natural light you’re receiving,” MacAlpine explains. This means cool colours for north-facing and warm colours for south-facing. 

Still unsure? Test swatch, test swatch, test swatch.

“There will be rooms with a north-west aspect or windows on both the north and south, so make sure you’re always doing a test swatch of paint, or bringing home fabric and hard material samples to see how they look in each specific space.”

What does each colour make you feel? 

Colours are subjective, but some have a universal influence on the majority of people. Generally speaking, we associate the below colours with the following emotions:

  • Yellow: happiness, joy, optimism, vitality
  • Orange: socialisation, energy, ambition
  • Pink: reduced appetite, love, romance, calm
  • Red: energy, stimulation, confidence, aggressiveness
  • Purple: mystery, creativity, luxury, wisdom
  • Blue: serenity, openness, focus
  • Green: peace, tranquility, prosperity
  • Brown: stability, natural, reliability
  • Black: anger, strength, intelligence
  • White: cleanliness, innocence, purity

“The colour yellow is often associated with happiness, vibrancy and is a positive colour,” MacAlpine notes. “This tends to be good for kid’s rooms, relaxed sitting rooms and even to add some freshness to a kitchen.”

“Whereas pink can be associated with reduced appetite, love and romance, so probably not as ideal for a kitchen in its brightest hues.”

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favourite colours at all costs in a certain room because it doesn’t evoke the feeling you’re seeking. 

For example, red is associated with stimulation or aggressiveness - perfect for a gym, as an example - but if you want to use it in the bedroom, you can incorporate it in subtle ways. 

“Try pairing Bed Threads sheets in Ruby or Rust with a Lavender quilt cover for a lighter look, or Mineral for a warm and rich feeling,” MacAlpine adds. 

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4 expert tips to using colour therapy in interiors to boost your mood

1. What effect does colour have on you?

“Colour affects us all differently, and the application of it should be personal to your own home., Something that looks seamless in a magazine or someone else’s house may not be the right fit for you and your space.

“When planning out your spaces, I would start a mind map of how you want to feel in each space. Do you want to feel snug in your living room, or does it need to feel open and airy?”

2. What’s the lighting situation?

“Colour is essentially a product of the light it interacts with, so your lighting plays a huge part in how you control the colour in your home. Let’s say you want your bathroom to feel invigorating and assist in waking you up in the morning to get ready for a big day at work. I would be using brighter whites and contrast to make a bolder statement to make me feel alert. 

“But if you want that same bathroom to feel cosy and aid you in going to sleep come the evening, I would ensure to have multiple light sources in the room so I could get low, warm mood lighting in the evening, which will completely change the space.”

3. Can you use a focal point?

“Bold use of colour can act as a focal point, so if there’s a wall or direction you want to draw attention to, use colour to do it. Conversely, if you want to conceal something, make the colours blend together.”

4. What other materials and objects can you add to a space?

As MacAlpine mentioned above, colour doesn’t just have to come from the paint on the walls. Think about how you can change a room’s emotional effect through the use of interchangeable objects such as bedding, throws, cushions, furniture and paintings. 

Emily MacAlpine is an interior designer and Director of MARG. Studio. Follow her on Instagram @bemoremarg.

Want to find out more on how to correctly use colour therapy to improve your mental health? Here’s your complete guide.

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