Colour has personality. It can be used to calm a space or stimulate conversation or even hunger. Every colour has an attribute, and when put together correctly they create a dynamic impression.
If not, the attitude is the same as a sullen teenager — dour, depressing and off putting. The attitude of colour can be destructive if used in the incorrect context.
Colour impacts us in so many ways, both emotionally and physically. It is associated with different cultural connotations and experiences — for example, why is red seen as both sexy and dangerous, black as sophisticated and also a symbol of death?
Colour consists of wavelengths of light, and it is our brain’s interpretation of this energy that we perceive as colour. Red has the longest wavelengths, then orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, with violet the shortest. The longer wavelengths stimulate our nervous system, and experiments have shown that colours such as red, orange and yellow actually physically increase pulse rate, blood pressure and make you feel physically warmer.
The reverse is the case for colours such as green and blue. This phenomenon is why babies cry more in a yellow room than in a blue or green one. Yellow rooms can make babies emotional and irrational and disrupt their sleep. This also holds true for adults — in fact, if you suffer from insomnia the use of pink in a bedroom can help solve this as it can induce calm.
The ability of light and colour to affect our bodies is seen very clearly with the use of blue ultraviolet light in jaundiced babies, when the baby’s skin absorbs the light waves and converts the toxins into products that can pass through the body.
Colour light therapy is used by practitioners around the world to cure different conditions, and institutions such as Steiner organisations use colour as part of their therapy.

##A case study in colour A classic example of how colour can have an impact can be seen from a group home for which I did a colour consultation a few years ago. The occupants were four gentlemen with Autism and although when outside the home they were relatively calm, once inside their behaviour deteriorated to such extent that there were no window treatments left, and every item was literally nailed down. Fortunately, the problem was shortlived as once the bright yellow walls were changed to blues and greens a calming effect was created. The attitude of the yellow was rubbing off on the occupants like a problematic group of teenagers, and stimulating them to such an extent that they could not control their actions and behaviour. Not only can colour affect our mood and behaviour, it also has the effect of making a room appear larger or smaller, and this can be used to full effect to create a space that is enticing and to hide imperfections in a design. For example, if you have a long narrow hall, you can make it appear shorter by painting it in a cool or light colour. This type of colour advances with the effect of making the end wall look closer. The reverse occurs by using dark or warm colours if you wish to make a wall recede and make the room appear longer. The exaggerated examples can be seen on these pages. You can then apply this principle if you wish to make the room look wider. Paint the walls adjacent to the back wall in a cool or light colour. You do not need to use a variety of colours to do this — you can achieve the same effect by using tonal values of the same hue. Colour can be used to make a room feel warmer, cooler, larger, smaller. It can be used to create a focal point and to highlight a special piece of furniture, a photo that means something to you or a favourite artwork. Colour can also disguise faults and create an ambience in a room that makes everyone gravitate to it. If colour is used correctly and intelligently it can create a welcoming and wonderful space. Remember, colour combinations can be as destructive as an out of control teenager with attitude or productive like the A grade student — it all depends on the setting and context in which it is used.

Creating a summer feel

Change your bedlinen to lightweight covers with bright and cool colours.
Swap throw cushions to ones with colours of blues, yellows, greens and pinks.
Bring the sunshine in by having fresh flowers from your garden as a centrepiece on your dining room table.
Clean all windows and open them to allow the fresh air in.
Add bright cushions to your outdoor seating area.
Light floral scented candles to lighten the mood. ❐


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