Last weekend I was invited to host a workshop at Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place festival in Chiswick House in London. It was a glorious weekend, the sun shone down on the yoga mats and everyone there gathered to feel the happy vibes. And they were there in abundance! The main talk stage hosted motivational speakers of wellbeing and self-improvement or self-acceptance. The enigmatic Russell Brand probably pulled the biggest crowds but we were also entertained by Bryony Gordon, inspired by Katie Piper and motivated by Dame Kelly Holmes.
You could get involved in open community yoga classes, improve your breath work and with my workshop, discover how to make your happy home. I was in the mindfulness and meditation tent, so creating a workshop with no visual aids was a real challenge, but it worked! I began by sharing the recent fascinating research from The Happiness Institute, which you can read more about on my recent blog post here. I then took the group through a guided visualisation, to help people get away from looking at rooms for inspiration, and instead focus on how you want your home to make you feel. I’d never tried anything like it before, but it was areal hit, so I’ll work out a way to record it and post it here some time soon!
So onto talking about colour, which is what I want to share with you on this blog, post today. We all have a very visceral response to colour and nowhere in your life is it going to have more impact than in your home. We spend 70% of our life at home and so getting your colours right, find what resonated with you and lifts you up is very important indeed!
This is a fun exercise that you can recreate by simply gathering some paint charts around you and taking a moment to really look at all the different colours one by one. . Just take a minute to look at a family of colours, on your paint chart, and decide if this is a colour you enjoy. How does it make you feel? And what sort of tone do you like best?
Red is a colour that is very arresting, its hot, attention-grabbing and confident. The colour of post-boxes and drive-throughs red has been used to make statements and stand out, grab our attention. Move towards the warmer and brown-tinted reds and they can feel cosy and assuring. Or mix a drop of pink and red can feel perky and fun. I love the cherry red used in the Cath Kidston branding for example. Too much red in a scheme can start to feel aggressive and overpowering, so think about how red affects you. Does it make you feel strong and assured or raging and irritable! This colour can be great in sociable areas like dining rooms but it may make a busy cooks kitchen feel too hot!
Pinks are massively in favour in interiors right now and I think they are a marvellous colour to introduce to your home. Literally the colour of love, pink is nurturing and cosseting, a colour to give you a mothering hug at the end of the day. Ideal for relaxation spaces like living rooms and bedrooms but not so such a good idea in a room where you want to feel motivated, like the home office for example. Again consider the shade of pink you are drawn too. If it’s a warm earthy plaster pink, a delicate petal pink or a cool grey pink.
Always my happy colour, yellow literally is Little Miss Sunshine in a paint tin. The colour of positivity and optimism, it’s a great hue to introduce in your home. Less of a wall colour for me I’ll admit but I pop yellow in accessories throughout my home. A yellow front door has to be the ultimate warm welcome! Remember that yellow is very energising so avoid in places of relaxation, like bedrooms. Yellow can be a real marmite colour, so again take a moment to discover the yellow that sings to you, from delicate primrose, a strong citrus yellow through to an earthy mustard. And don’t forget yellow metal tones too like gold and brass.
Literally the colour of mother earth, brown is very grounding and another great colour to have in your home. If you think of timber that we use for flooring and furniture, chances are you already have plenty of brown in your home. I love my bright and saturated colour palette but I find shades of brown really help to calm the brights so I always make sure there are timber tones in my schemes. Again take a moment to discover what brown tones or timbers you are drawn to. From the pale woods like ash and beech to the rick honey tones of oak or the cool whitewashed and weathered shades of wood.
Look at any paint chart and there will always bee a healthy amount of blues. A really versatile colour it’s cool and calming qualities make it a decorating favourite. It’s a colour that helps create a sense of space, depth but can feel cold so don’t use it in chilly north-facing rooms. It suppresses the appetite so a terrible colour for kitchens and dining rooms. So many blues to choose from but which is your hue? From pale a delicate sky blues, cool grey blues, rick teals or striking cobalt. Take some time to sit and stare at the world’s favourite colour and work out which one is for you.
Another great colour to always make sure you introduce in your home. It’s the colour of nature so has all the connotations of wellbeing, harmony and rejuvenation. Like yellow it’s rarely a wall colour for me (that’s my personal preference) but it’s essential to have a little pop of green throughout your home. These could be as simple as a humble pot plant. Again like blue, so many hues to choose from. You have the fresh leaf greens, sage, olive, and hunters green not to mention zesty lime. See what energy of green you are drawn to.
A word on grey. In terms of colour psychology, grey, as a mix of pure white and black, is a neutral colour. It does nothing to us emotionally! At worst it can be a very draining colour, so expect to wake up tired in a grey bedroom. However, greys are rarely a pure mix of black and white. We have warm greys, green greys, pinkie greys and cool blue-greys to choose from. So when you are looking at grey, again consider what type of grey you love and the type of vibe you want to create. What is the background tone? Is it cool and still, or warmer and more energising? Or perhaps it’s icy and striking. Grey is a great backdrop for other colours. I particularly love greys with yellows as I think they balance each other perfectly. When done well grey can look really calming, and sophisticated but be careful of it also looking flat, cold and depressing!
Once you have worked out what colour palette you love, by listening to your gut you can delve a little further into what your findings mean. I use the framework of colour psychology on my workshops to help people discover what colours they love and what palette will work coherently throughout their home.
If you have chosen colours that feel light, buoyant, clear and yet warm then you are probably a spring personality. The energy you love to create is fun, uplifting, youthful and lively but there is gentleness too. You can learn more about how to decorate in the spring personality here.
If you have chosen colours that are cool, calm and have a grey undertone to them then chances are you are a summer personality. You love colours that feel elegant, calm and graceful and have a timeless quality. To find out more about how to decorate using the summer colour palette, see my post here.
If the colours you have gravitated towards are more earthy, rich or flamboyant then you are an autumn personality. You love strong deep colours and a cosy and welcoming vibe and you are particularly drawn to natures colour palette. Find out more about how to decorate in the autumn palette here.
And finally, if you chose colours that are striking, saturated yet cool and even icy, then you are a winter colour palette. You probably wanted to know more about your two favourite colours, black and white. To discover more about your colour story, hop on over to my post about the winter personality here.
If you are fascinated by your colour palette and how you can use it powerfully in your home, then there are still places on my Ban The Beige workshop on the 10th October. Find out more here.
Otherwise, I’ll hopefully see some of you at the next Happy Place festival on the 7th-8th September at Tatton Park, Manchester.