Colour causes emotion. It’s energy light waves that hit our retina, send signals to the brain and boom. We feel it. But…and here’s the exciting part, we don’t all feel it in the same way. So, it follows that understanding your own unique relationship to colour is fundamental in creating a home that supports you emotionally which is why I enjoy teaching this subject the most. Angela Wright, the psychologist who researched how colour affects our emotions and behaviour uncovered that different personality types have different colour palettes that resonate with them in a positive way. This has been game-changing for me as a professional designer- helping me read my clients much more quickly and create a home for them that feels, well truly perfect for them. And it has literally blown the minds of hundreds of students I’ve taught this technology to.
It’s so easy to quickly feel overwhelmed with all the mouth-watering images on Pinterest, magazines and Instagram. But which look is right for you? How to you piece together a colour scheme that is harmonious and creates flow and cohesion throughout the house while also making each room feel different.
The answers to these common questions are solved with colour psychology. I love to feel inspired by the trends, but you mustn’t feel beholden to them. Talking to friends and families about your schemes can be a great sounding board, but ultimately the decision has to be made by you because here’s the thing. Only YOU know how to design a home that feels right for you.
Colour psychology offers up an easy to follow framework that first of all helps you understand more about who you are and your unique preferences and then how to harmonise a palette that will create successful schemes. With clarity and complete confidence. My wish is of course that it helps you make bolder design decisions, and ones that you love to live with for years to come!
So how does it all work? Ultimately the Wright theory establishes four different personality types. These are labelled Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter for illustrative purposes that I will go into later. (This is not ‘Colour me Beautiful’ that some of you may remember from the ’90s, where bits of fabric were matched to your skin tone!) Colour Psychology for interiors, it isn’t just about what personality you are but the personality of the room too. The hues, patterns, textures and indeed decorative style of the room can really change the mood and behaviour in a space. Read on to find out which decorating style and colour palette resonates with you.
Spring is all about new life and that burst of energy as the sun comes to warm up the earth after a cold winter. Nature is busy this time of year for nature and for gardeners. So naturally, the Spring personality is full of optimism, youthful energy and fresh creativity. Spring people are typically bubbly, social and love outdoor pursuits. It follows that their company is infectious, and their homes fulfil that purpose as places to entertain family and friends, preferably with doors thrown open so everyone can spill outside. The connection to nature and the outdoors is strong, so sunlit rooms with large windows, botanical motifs and plenty of plants is one of the ways a Spring personality will keep this connection.
The decorative style that suits a Spring personality is one that avoids heaviness or darkness. Colours are light, bright and buoyant and decorative styles help to maximise this feeling of lightness. Think twinkly chandeliers, glass furniture, mirrors. But like the Spring season there is a gentle softness, so think less bling and more twinkle! Spring people love a feeling of spaciousness and so the open-plan space where everyone can be together would be an ideal way for them to live. They are attracted to newness and the excitement of new trends, so interiors will look fashionable. And for rooms that you want to feel upbeat, joyful and energising you can borrow elements from the Spring palette.
If summer conjures up images of inflatable flamingos’, garish sombrero’s and turquoise seas in the Caribbean- banish those thoughts for a moment. Instead, picture a quintessential European summer that’s more faded and subdued and dare I say it elegant. The perky greens and daffodil yellows of spring fade to a more subtle palette of sun-bleached hayfields, powdery hydrangeas and dripping wisteria. The warm sun signifies a time to relax, bathe and take a break.
With this seasonal landscape in mind, the summer personality is graceful and elegant and more reserved in character. Summer personalities are cool, calm and collected, composed and organised. In terms of interiors, they are not so interested in keeping up with the pace of ever-changing trends and would much rather stick to their own sense of timeless style, not particularly attached to the past or the future.
Just as the summer landscape is faded and sun-bleached, this personality is drawn towards soft, cool, muted and chalky colours. Where there is a lack of colour contrast, quality and tactility become more important to invest in the real thing; wool, cashmere, linen and the finest velvets. Summer people are drawn to flowing fabrics like the drape of heavy French linen or faded painterly floral. Rooms are impeccably well-curated, planned and organised. Rooms where you want to create an air of calm and understated elegance borrow from the Summer palette.
A change in pace again Autumn has all the fiery energy of bonfire night. Colours intensify as leaves turn burning russet red, rich golds. The Autumn palette is warm and intense. And like Spring the energy is very forward moving with plenty of work to be done in the garden and for the harvest. This robust and abundant energy, in preparation for the coming winter, is at the heart of the Autumn personality.
Autumn personalities are externally motivated and busy people. They are typically fiery, full of passion, integrity and drive and have a deep connection to the natural world in all its glory and are the most likely to be concerned with its preservation.
This is reflected in their homes with the choice of materials; wood, exposed stone and brick, cotton, jute and pottery and anything organic and sustainable. They love to celebrate craftsmanship so objects with often have the thumbprint of the handmade on them. Rarely inspired by modern trends, they look to the past for inspiration, and feel most at home in a period property and will fill it with vintage and up-cycled items. The colour palette is inherently warm and intense from the colours of the autumn landscape through to rich jewel tones. Autumn interiors feel warm cosy and grounding so if you want to create a room with this feel, borrow from the Autumn palette.
In my view Winter, as a season, is massively underestimated. When you embrace it, you can appreciate the striking stillness. While nature hibernates, and everything goes underground we are left with an arresting landscape. The bare branches appear architectural against the bright winter sun making a strong visual statement in its starkness.
Similarly, the Winter personality is non-comprising and no-nonsense. They tend to speak their mind and don’t suffer fools. They are decisive with sharp wit and clarity.
A winter room scheme will be considered and efficient with no unnecessary embellishments. It’s more about creating one powerful statement and if it comes with a big price tag, that’s a plus as Winter personalities are not afraid to show off and celebrate their success. It’s less about following the trends and more about setting them.
In terms of colour again they favour the extremes, stark contrasted with dark. They are the only season that could live with pure bright white or pure jet black. Any accent colour added to this neutral backdrop would be sharp, saturated and cool in tone for max visual impact.
Their love of high-end luxury will be reflected in the materials they choose, shiny metallic’s, leather and marble. I can’t help thinking that Winter people must have been in their hay-day in the 1980s with all the chrome, black leather and geometric prints that were popular of that time. A room that wants to appear impressive and make a striking statement can borrow from the winter palette.
I hope this has given you some insight. We rarely fall into one season neatly so you may find that a couple of these seasonal personalities resonate with you. You may now begin to realise why some rooms in your home have never felt quite ‘right’ and why some spaces make you feel the best version of yourself.
My online course ‘Colour Psychology for interiors’ has been devised to take you through an easy to follow process to firstly discover more about yourself, but mostly on how to create rooms that feel as good as they look. First and foremost, I’m an interior designer, not a psychologist, but this technology has been a game-changer in helping me find my creative flow. Which ultimately takes out the wasted time procrastinating so whole decoration process more creative, fun and empowering. You can learn more about my course here.