Question: Colour Theory, What Colours Make You Productive?
What colours will ensure your room reaches its full productiveness?
A kitchen that inspires to cook, a bedroom that encourages sleep and relaxation and an office that keeps you motivated.
Homes are supposed to be places of comfort, relaxation and a haven away from the hustle and bustle, so what do I mean by productive?
Using my knowledge and experience as a colour analyst and interior designer, I have a great understanding of colour and how we can choose, use and marry them together. I will explore colours, colour theory and room inspiration to allow you to decorate your home and in particular your office to reach its productive potential.
The Theory and Psychology of Colour
Isaac Newton was first to explain how colour impacts an individual, how you respond to colours, light and your emotional response, the basics of colour psychology. One of the earliest colour psychologists, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a writer, poet and politician who published Theory of Colours in 1810.
Goethe discusses the how colour can impact person.
Over a century later his spectrum of colours developed into the colour wheel used now by colour enthusiasts, graphic designers and the like – anyone that works with colour!
The psychology of colour is hugely important, people will have different associations with colours that are powerful and need to be factored in to choosing a colour. ‘Colour is one of the most dynamic elements in design and decoration…a key reason for this strength and energy is the raft of associations that colours bring in their wake.’
(Terence Conran, Conran on Colour)
The Munsell System states that every colour has three characteristics.
This is crucial when pulling together productive colour schemes for a room or home.
Hue This is the undertone of a colour, a variety of the colour. Mostly described as blue or yellow based but also is red and green. So a blue based red or yellow based red identifies these hues as a warm or cool colour.
Value A measure to show a colour’s lightness or darkness. Essentially the depth of a colour. This is important to consider when you choose colours for a room. It can define the form of the space and creates spatial illusions.
Chroma How bright or muted a colour is – the colours purity, intensity or saturation. Browns and earthy tones are muted as is salmon pink. But black, white and scarlet red are bright and clear.
Using just three measurements the colour wheel shows what goes compliments and clashes.
For contrast select colours opposite to one another on the colour wheel, to blend colours select ones closer together.
This is very important when putting together a look for a room and making it productive.
‘Colour response is highly personal. What one person is attracted to, another may be repulsed by. There is no such thing as a bad colour – only unpleasant colour relationship’s’ (Ronald Reed, Colour + Design)
Due to the intimate relationship we have with colour it is important to feel confident in your choice, do it for you and it will create a productive space.
Follow trends and not have a good association with it, you will get bored and it will not enhance a room’s productivity.
Let’s think about where you choose colour; either in the clothes you wear or how your decorate your home.
Do you prefer block colours or are you a pattern lover?
When you leave the house in black and white you may feel powerful, because it is a strong contrast or you could feel restricted and uniform. When or if your choose to add a splash of colour to make it your own.
The right colour combinations can project your visual personality, story and confidence to the world, the wrong ones could make you feel exposed, vulnerable and timid.
How you portray yourself and your home reflects on your perception of you and what makes you tick.
Vibrant contrasting colours vs. blended muted tones. It does not matter what the colours are, if you are happy and comfortable, you will feel productive and confident.
Applying The Theory to your Home & Office
Now what to pick? How do you choose from all the colours and shades of colours? A human can identify millions, there is are just too many to choose!
We all know there is a faithful army of off whites available but why not add a little colour to your home?
Think about the mood of each room (the space, the lighting, the purpose of the room, etc.) and then pick a colour that you feel will reflect that feeling; this will increase your productivity and your use of the space.
You do not see many bright red offices and bedrooms and the answer is obvious. Most of us (sub- consciously or consciously) understand colour theory and psychology behind it and apply this knowledge to our colour choices.
What different colours represent?
Red - is vibrant, it shows passion and anger. It requires urgent attention. This is not needed when sleeping. (perfect for your urgent To-Do Lists, not for your entire office!)
Yellow - Sunny and happy, bright and cheerful. It will make a room feel just so too.
Blue - Can feel cool so if your room is feels chilly; then you might want to add a warmer tone to compliment.
Green - Is calming and helps to you to feel studious and relaxed. Why not try a green office?
Purple – Is associated with luxury and is great as a secondary colour, it's also a great alternative to blue if you want to warm a space
Orange – Is bright and exciting, it can be muted and it adds warmth and depth.
Pink – Available in many shades and can be a very warm cheery addition to any room, this colour is often gendered, but also has similar properties to red making this a colour for spaces where you want to move a little quicker!
Neutrals – (black, whites, greys and browns) are part of most colour schemes and can be used on their own with a non-neutral (like black and pink) or together, a soft grey and warm white for a subtle blend.
Choosing Colours for a Productive Home
I would advise Ignoring trends and focus on the room’s mood and use. That should help you to decide the best colour.
You are less likely to get bored and will be help you to be more productive and efficient, meaning you will spend more time in there!
I am not going to decide a colour for each room as it is important for you as an individual to decide for yourselves.
To give you colour confidence I have picked a few examples showing how the psychology behind a colours tone will work.
Have a think or work with an interior designer to explore the colours you love and what will work for your home.
Before you do anything to any of your rooms, ask yourself this -
"When you walk in you want to feel..." then marry that feeling to a colour and start selecting the right tone and depth for you.
Office – Cooler colours will keep you alert and motivated. Avoid earthy colours and tones such as browns and rusts.
Blue and green stimulates productivity; adding colours like oranges, yellows and bright neutrals enhances thoughts, feelings and emotions to inspiring your creative side.
Or flip it around and have yellow or green to inspire creative thought with blue accents to exert productivity.
(Mine is yellow, blue and grey!)
Living Space – A lot of time is spent living in your living space. Who is it used by? What do you do in there?
Do you want to calm it down or liven it up – or both?
Pick a palette. Go with three main colours and play with it from there.
By recreating the feeling you love most, you will boost your productivity and sense of ease within the room.
A deep dark teal or grey blue will make a living room feel cosy and sophisticated.
So go on, it’s only paint after all. Create your space, use your colours. Blend tone and contrast to turn your home into the productive, inspiring place you want to be.
Eleanor Mitchell is a trained colour analyst and interior design student studying at the British Academy of Interior Design. Eleanor understands colour, what goes with what and how to wear it or paint it!
Eleanor runs a colour analysis business which take a persons skin tone, hair and eye colours matching them to different colour palettes. This shows what colours make a person look their best and which less so. Running individual consultations and workshops Eleanor is able to ensure her clients look and feel amazing.
Studying interior design Eleanor advises on colour combinations for the home and how to bring a bit of colour into your home or wardrobe.