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Interior design and the psychology of colour

Interior design and the psychology of colour


Picking the right colour scheme for a room can set its mood and can even affect the way people perceive its physical space.

One of the most important things to consider in interior design is a room’s colour scheme. By using the appropriate tones and temperatures, it can help you achieve the feel you’re aiming for, if you understand how these hues affect your perception. When some people return home after a long day at work and immediately reach for a glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage as a way to relax, the use of colour may be an even better, healthier way to improve your mood.

Picking the right colour scheme can make a room feel more tranquil, cheerful, or even energised. It can even make a narrow space feel wider, or a larger one feel more intimate. To understand the psychology of colour, and how it can work for you and your home, consider some of these ideas for each room of the house.


Your living room can be transformed into a more tranquil, calming space with the use of blue. Keep in mind that more brilliant shades, like sapphire, can add more energy, while lighter hues such as light sky blue, provide a more peaceful, tranquil feel. Mixing glacier blue with chrome accents helps to create a serene environment. A paler shade also helps to make a smaller room feel more spacious. It can even be used on the ceiling to create a look as if opening to reveal the sky.

Using blue in the living room can also provide a cooler escape during the summer months, while making the home feel fresh and clean. If blue painted walls or blue furniture sounds too overwhelming, consider using it in accent pieces in an overall white or off-white room, like with pillows or tranquil works of art.

Interior designer Meryl Hare, former winner of the Design Institute of Australia’s Residential Interior Decoration Award, used the colours of the view outside her weatherboard cottage in Palm Beach to create a beautiful, relaxed beach-look. Her use of a restrained palette of bleached timbers combined with darker colours brings nature inside that can instantly transform one’s mood just by stepping through the door.

Kitchen and Dining

There’s a reason you’ll notice so many restaurants choosing red paint schemes or wallpaper in their dining rooms. The colour red has been shown to increase appetite in most people. It’s also energising and brings passion to a room, though it works better as an accent colour. For example, you might paint one wall a velvety red, and the others a more neutral shade, like beige or white. It adds elegance and romance, and can be used in a traditional or contemporary setting.


Creating a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom can help promote better rest. Using neutral colours like whites, greys or beige hues helps to create a soft look that’s more conducive to sleep. No matter what the tone, beige works especially well with crisp, white trim. It can also work with a variety of styles from traditional to more eclectic spaces. Flaunt your interior creativity by staging home furnishings in different shades of beige and white throughout this space to set the mood while showcasing your style.


You may want your bathroom to invoke a spa-like feel, for your own private retreat for rejuvenation and relaxation. Using white brings a sense of cleanliness and purity, while green is calming, balancing and healing. A celery green hue can provide a crisp, clean look. In addition to wall colours, consider accessories, such as a bath mat or towels in seafoam green as well as adding color with decorative candles and soaps to create a relaxing spa atmosphere.

Text: Paige Calahan


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