A Question of Colour

CMB colour swatches

Is dressing for success a question of colour? Whether it is yourself or your home that you are dressing colour is a key element as it always evokes an emotional reaction.

Lady in floral patterned dress and corresponding colour chart
Lady in floral patterned dress and corresponding colour chart

A number of years ago a friend and I each had a personal colour consultation. We were both ‘Autumn’. This came as no surprise as our physical colouring was similar.

We each received a file containing our relevant colour swatches. These were the colours that would enhance our natural looks. The swatches would determine what colour clothes and accessories we should purchase right down to our underwear!

CMB colour swatches
CMB colour swatches

More recently I encountered colour guru, Karen Haller. She spoke about colour psychology in the home. In fact, she has written a whole book about it.

I read the book and inwardly digested some fascinating facts. For example, did you know that men and women see colour differently? I suddenly realised why my partner and I could never agree on a colour scheme.

Whilst the first half of the book concentrated on colour in the home, the second half focused on personal colours. I couldn’t resist doing the quiz. Would I still be Autumn? The interesting thing was that this analysis honed in on personality rather than physical appearance. I was still Autumn!

It seems I should not only be wearing these lovely warm earthy shades but I should be bedecking my home in them as well. In principle I am not opposed to this idea but it is, perhaps, verging on the side of obsessive.

Warm autumnal colours
Warm autumnal colours

Karen Haller’s Little Book of Colour raised a very good question relating to personal colour choices in the home. That is, how do you cater for different colour personalities living together? The answer to this is to try and find some common ground.

The results of her quiz provide a primary set of colours but it is common for there to be a secondary set as well. With six A’s and three B’s my true personality is Autumn/Summer. This therefore provides some scope for me to be a bit more flexible with my colour choices.

Another interesting fact about using colour in the home relates to ‘tone’. Karen touches on this in her book as does Joa Studholme of Farrow & Ball in her writings. For a home to feel balanced the decoration needs to create a cohesive look and feel. The key to this is to use the same depth of colour throughout the building.

For example, my current home is built from reclaimed materials. The walls are wobbly, the oak beams exposed, and the fireplace is built from red bricks. To compliment these features I have erred towards tones that you might see in nature; earthy browns, sagey greens, palest blues, and a thread of purply/pink. If I now added a neon yellow, for instance, the scheme would jar.

House built from natural materials

One last thing to consider when choosing colours for your home is the emotional response to a particular hue. Achieving the correct emotion will ensure harmony. Let me give you an example.

Red in the bedroom.

Red is a very stimulating colour and might therefore be appropriate for an adult’s room. In this scenario it might be associated with romance and passion and that’s fine if that is the mood one wishes to create.

In a child’s bedroom, red is still a stimulating colour. This might therefore lead to the child being over excited and not sleeping well.

Bright colours in a child's bedroom
Bright colours in a child’s bedroom – IKEA catalogue

I hope this has given you an insight into how colour psychology works. I am not claiming to be an expert but I can certainly relate to some of the theory. If you would like more information please go to Karen Haller’s website or Farrow & Ball website.

📸 Images taken from my Rhodec International coursework and individually credited where possible. 

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