Interior decoration: colours and their influence on our emotions

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February 6, 2021

"Broyer du noir", "voir la vie en rose", "alerte rouge"... these expressions reflect a reality: colours and emotions are closely linked. Some colours soothe us when others can annoy or even make us hungry. Numerous studies have proven the influence of colours on our behaviour, our emotions and even our decision making.
A little guide to help you find your way around and choose the right colours to decorate your home!

Colours and the brain

When you're not an interior decorator, it's hard to know how to harmonize colours with each other. Because the colours of the walls, furniture, carpet or linens will give your room a singular, harmonious and cosy or deliberately sober and pure character. They can lighten or darken a room, make it bigger or smaller.

Generally speaking, the choice of colours is often based on cultural criteria and habits. They transmit an energy to the person exposed to them: it can attract, soothe, bring joy or, on the contrary, oppress.
How is this possible? Quite simply because when we see a colour, our retina transforms the information into an electrical signal and then transmits it to our brain. Depending on the hue, the brain will secrete "messengers" that will act on our body. Neuroscience has proven that depending on whether we see warm or cold colours, it is not the same area of the brain that is activated.
Pink, for example, is the colour of optimism, happiness and romance. Researchers have shown that in preschool classrooms painted pink, children's drawings are more joyful! It has also been noticed that the colour we wear influences the perception of our speech: to go and ask your boss for a raise, avoid dressing in red, the colour of power and anger. Green, on the other hand, symbolizes harmony; you will have a better chance of succeeding in your negotiations dressed in this colour!

Decorate in colours

No wonder then that in interior design, colours have a special place in the atmosphere that will emanate from a room. We don't dare to apply colour too much, especially on the walls! To be on the safe side, we opt for white, luminous and clean, while colour will sublimate your decoration and furniture. But you still need to master a minimum of codes... Because you don't decorate the living room or the entrance hall in the same way, living rooms in which you will want to find energy or harmony, and a bedroom in which you will want to create a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. Similarly, you will not decorate your condo in the city or your cottage in nature in the same way. Colours can be applied to the walls, or come from a piece of furniture, a carpet or a decorative element such as a beautiful Photography for example. It's up to you to play with shades of colour and contrasts to create an atmosphere that suits you.
Colours differ according to their hues, and thus belong to different groups. First there are primary colours, then secondary, finally tertiary and complementary colours.
Magenta (red), yellow and blue are the primary colours, i.e. they cannot be obtained by mixing them with another colour. The secondary, tertiary and complementary colours are obtained by mixing one primary colour with another or with a colour that has already been mixed. For example, orange is a secondary colour (mixture of two primary colours). White and black are not considered colours.

Warm, cold and neutral colours

Next, three categories must be distinguished: warm, cold and neutral colours.
Warm colours are so called because they give a feeling of warmth. They are red, orange, yellow and beige. In decoration, these colours are eye-catching and often seem to shrink the space, giving an impression of smaller. They can give a warm and cosy feel.
Cool colours contain blue in their composition (blue, green and purple). They also give a feeling of cold to the person exposed to them. They are less eye-catching and seem to make the room seem larger. They give energy to the space.
Finally, neutral or so-called natural colours are black, white, brown and grey. They are ideal for creating a more neutral atmosphere, or to harmonize a colourful decoration, by making the link.

The symbolism of colours

Colours have a real influence on our emotions, and each of them has a symbolism. To create your cocoon in your own image, it is best to master the meaning of colours. Quick review.

The red

Red is the symbol of action, courage, dynamism. It manifests life and power. On the negative side, it is said that it can convey anger or danger. It is a colour that will give a lot of intensity to the play.

Tulips - The Hedge (Netherlands) - François B. for Photo-to-go
Tulips - The Hedge (Netherlands) - François B. for Photo-to-go

Yellow

Yellow is a radiant color that symbolizes energy, joy, sunshine. It will undoubtedly bring a luminous and tonic touch to your room. Be careful however not to abuse it because it is also a colour known to make babies cry and can in the long run create a feeling of anger.

Jaisalmer - India - François B. for Photo-to-go
Jaisalmer - India - François B. for Photo-to-go

The orange

The colour orange is the colour of harmony in human relationships and communication. It is a comforting colour that conveys conviviality. A perfect colour for a living room or a kitchen. It is the colour par excellence of warmth and confidence.

Buoys in beauty - Iles-de-la-Madelaine (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go
Buoys in beauty - Iles-de-la-Madelaine (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go

The blue

It's the colour of calm and tranquility. It brings peace, encourages reflection and spirituality. In interior decoration, all shades of blue are suitable for all rooms in the house, depending on what you are looking for. It will be particularly suitable for a bedroom (the colour "night blue") or a reading room or library, office for work and reflection. It is available from light blue to purple.
Dark blue combined with copper or gold will give an elegant and antique look to your interior.

Afterwork - Montreal (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go
Afterwork - Montreal (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go

The green

Green symbolizes harmony and balance. It is the colour of nature. It goes very well with a vegetal wallpaper for example and is often used in a bathroom.  

OK for a coffee - Bas St Laurent (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go
OK for a coffee - Bas St Laurent (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go

Bright colours are synonymous with dynamism, energy , they will give tone to your interior. Lighter colours, or pastels, will allow you to shade and harmonize a room in which there is a multitude of colourful objects, such as a child's room for example.

The black

In decoration, it is considered elegant and contemporary. It allows you to highlight the objects, textures or other colours that surround it. However, it should be used in moderation because, by definition, it darkens the room because it absorbs light and can shrink it. It will therefore be used preferably on a single wall, or on the floor.

Night Fire - Prince Edward Island (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go
Night Fire - Prince Edward Island (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go

The white

Symbol of purity and clarity, it is the ideal companion for all colours and adapts to all rooms. It reflects light and enlarges the space. It is also considered elegant and contemporary. It enhances the decoration placed on the walls or the coloured elements of your room. But used in excess, it can give the impression of an impersonal interior. It is reminiscent of rooms with a high need for hygiene (doctor's office, hospital, industrial kitchen).
It can therefore advantageously be a little "dark" to give more warmth: for example a beige or sand colour.

Indian Dream - Udaipur (India) - François B. pour Photo-to-go
Indian Dream - Udaipur (India) - François B. pour Photo-to-go

These so-called neutral or natural shades (white, black, grey, beige) are often used to highlight other colours, furniture or wall decoration. They bring a touch of elegance and serenity, and are a sure value for all the rooms in your house or condo.

How to choose the right colours?

The atmosphere

For convivial rooms, where you want to create a dynamic atmosphere, and conducive to communication, you will choose warm colours. They will favour a cosy atmosphere. Cold colours are more suitable for rooms where you want to concentrate (office, library) or rest (bedroom).

The exhibition of the piece

Colours allow you to play with the light: it is therefore important to choose the colours of the room according to the exposure to the sun. For example, for rooms facing north, with little sunlight, you should choose warm, bright colours instead. They will warm up the room, making it warmer and even more sophisticated.
Rooms facing south receive more light, so they can tolerate cooler colours very well.

Volumes

Colours also allow you to play with perspectives. To enlarge a room, you can paint the ceiling in white and the walls in colour. To make the ceiling appear lower, paint it with a warm or dark colour. And to make it appear higher, paint it with pale or cool colours, which will give an impression of space and ventilation.
Finally, to play with volumes, you can paint the bottom of the wall in colour, or just one wall of the room. The possibilities are almost endless!

The Golden Rules

In interior decoration, it is advisable to avoid using more than three colours in a single room if you want a harmonious rendering.
Differentiate between passageways and living rooms. In living rooms, where people stay longer, too many bright colours can be tiring in the long run. On the other hand, rooms where you stay for a shorter period of time (entrance, walk-in, toilet) can tolerate intense colours.

Finally, to feel really comfortable in your home, respect your tastes and the colours you like! That way, your home will look like you and you will be comfortable!

Greek Blue - Prince Edward Island (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go
Greek Blue - Prince Edward Island (Canada) - François B. for Photo-to-go

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