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Colour me Happy - How to choose colour that sets the tone

Posted on 04 March 2017

Great design influences how we think, feel, interact, react and behave, and one of the easiest ways to do this, is using the psychology of colour.

As with all design, our appreciation and perception of colour and how it makes us feel, is influenced by our gender, culture, age and our experiences with that colour. As a retail designer, I am fascinated by how the perception of a brand can influence our trust and belief in their product, to the point where they become iconic – think Tiffany Blue (yes please!), Coca-Cola Red, ANZ Blue, JB Hi-Fi Yellow.


Looking to add some colour to your life? Before you get started, grab fabric, laminate, tile and paint samples, accessories and go nuts, playing with how they work together. If painting, the new Dulux Colour app allows you to take a picture of the space you want to add colour to and will even render it so you can see what the finished product will look like.

What’s your brand colour?

When using colour in the design of our home it helps to have an understanding of what colours mean to us and how they make us feel.

In a neutral space, perhaps use a beautiful piece of furniture to add some colour? Featured here is the Gable Arm Chair which features a plush Duck Wash Blue Velvet. Lighter blue's like this often invoke a calming feeling - exactly what you want when your retiring to a comfy chair.

In the Chinese tradition, red is associated with luck and traditional Chinese and Indian bridal gowns are red. In general, red is associated with passion and dynamic energy. It is an invigorating colour often used in restaurants to stimulate our appetite. It is not a colour I would use when designing a dementia ward as it is believed to influence violent reactions in some people. So when you consider your home and how you want to use each space, one must consider not only the functions of each room, but how people may react to the injection of that colour.


Adding art work to a neutral space (maybe a rented apartment) is an easy way to add colour to your home that also gives you the freedom to move and adjust your palette.This piece "Midori" is by Melbourne based artist - Anne-Maree Wise Acrylic on stretched canvas

And how much colour is too much?   Do you paint every wall in the room you want to appear sophisticated and moody Dulux “Domino”? Or do you give a colour more prominence by using it sparingly? Personally, I take my cues from modern architect Mies van der Rohe’s famous quote “Less is more”; but then again, I DO have a beige feature wall…

So ultimately, the amount of colour you use is up to you, but the biggest mistake I see when people start to incorporate colour into their home is that they have not considered how the use of each colour influences another space. There is a tendency to stand in the room they are decorating and see it as if in a bubble, without considering how the design interacts with, reacts with and influences its adjoining rooms.

Renting, or not ready to commit to larger expanses of colour? How about using rugs, cushions and accessories to bring colour into your home? Check out our range of colourful home furnishings to inject some colour into your home.

When considering colours for each of your rooms, please take time to step outside of that room to get a sense of what you will glimpse as you pass by. Or if you are sitting in the next room with a view towards the one you are planning to decorate, what can you see? For instance, I remember standing in the corridor of one house that had rooms of varying bold colours throughout. Standing there I felt like I was being hit in the face by glimpses of all these different colours All. At. Once! It was visually confusing and completely disorientated me, to the point where I really didn’t want to hang around.

I understand the owners’ need to create various themed rooms, but in not considering how these work with each other it made the overall feeling in their home quite disharmonious. Another way to create rooms with individual personalities, but maintain harmony throughout your home, is to choose a colour you like and play with shades of it in each room. This still allows each space to have its own distinct personality, but creates a sense of cohesion throughout.


How crisp, clean and invigorating is this lime green wall by Perth based designer Nicky Papaioannou of ‘The Design Envelope’?

Colour is very personal, but here’s a few common feelings inspired through colour.

Warm colours embrace us and make us feel welcome and energised: 


Cool Colours are usually restful and calming:


Neutral colours are not always neutral:



A small injection of colour can have a big impact.

To create a home that is distinctly yours, first understand how you want your family and friends to think, feel, interact and react in each space, and then use colour to bring those feelings and reactions to life.


'Tina Murray is a Melbourne based interior designer, author and speaker who believes good design (and life) comes from the heart -


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