Mood magic – the psychology of colour

Mood magic – the psychology of colour

11th March 2016

Pantone blew the design world away earlier this year when instead of releasing the much-awaited Pantone Colour of 2016, it released its Colours of the Year, plural. While the ‘s’ may seem insignificant, take it from us, that simple letter generated a whole load of column inches and blogs ,all asking the question: Why two? And why these two – Rose Quartz, a pastel pink, and a soft-tone blue, which Pantone have named Serenity?

Pantone colours of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity

Pantone colours of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity

 According to report in the Wall Street Journal, Leatrice Eiseman, executive colour director of Pantone’s Color Institute, explained that they chose the dual shades as they’re often seen together and so make a natural pairing. She went on to say that ‘it makes for the perfect combination in the home’ and describes the colours as ‘inducing feelings of stability, constancy, comfort and relaxation. ’Psychologically speaking, she’s right. There’s a wealth of science behind colour meanings and the effects of colours on our moods. Warm, sunny shades such as red, yellow and orange have been shown to promote feelings of sociability, reassurance, warmth and optimism, while cooler shades of pink, blue and violet conjure up peaceful, emotional responses. Neutral colours – browns, creams and greens – make us think and feel stable and homely.

Colour effects

We see this ‘psychology of colour’ all around us. Hospitals painted in pastel shades to relax patients; primary schools bursting with, what else, primary colours to appeal to the pupils; offices decorated in calming blues and greens to promote productivity (interestingly, grey, white and beige, while seemingly neutral, have been shown to depress and demotivate workers, so bosses beware!). These ‘mood colours’ translate to our own homes too, with certain hues lending themselves to particular rooms. Yellow – sociable and warm – is particularly good in kitchens; lavender and violet, with their connotations of peace and love, are shoo-ins for grown-up bedrooms (bye-bye rows before bedtime!). And if Pantone has got it right, Rose Quartz and Serenity in the living room to make us all feel comfortable and relaxed… and let’s face it, in today’s hectic world, that’s something we’re all looking for.

How to make pastels work in your home

According to DFS design director Helen Leigh Jones, people tend to shy away from pink thinking it ‘too saccharine’, while the wrong shade of blue can ‘feel uninviting’. But a dusty pink shade such as Rose Quartz, especially when used in Pantone’s ‘natural pairing’ with a cool blue like Serenity, can, says Helen, “give a real sense of wellbeing". So this spring, embrace your softer side, décor wise, and plump for pastels. Here's some of our sofa picks from the ice cream dream..

 Paper or paint your walls in a subtle rose pink or a tint of pistachio green and offset this with a stunning muted blue or pale lilac sofa – or vice versa. Candy-colours rule and nothing is off limits. Style your room with metallic cushions and throws in shimmery silvers and greys for a complementary tone-on-tone look, or go for bold and add a huge dose of contrasting oomph with accessories in hot pink and deep blue shades to really emphasise the sorbet shades.

Indigo accessories with pastel pink sofa

Stylist tip: Accessorise dusky pink with dark indigo

Accessorising with metallic blush

Stylist tip: Accessorise candy pink with warm metallics

Pop psychology

Those clever people over at Buzzfeed have concocted a quick quiz that shows (allegedly!) how your favourite colours reflect your personality. Are you realistic? Grounded? Or emotionally engaging? Take the quiz and find out!

Back to homepage