Using colour: the different effects of tones and hues

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The way you decorate and design your home's colour scheme can have an enormous impact on the overall ambience and atmosphere of the particular domestic space. Colour psychology has been well-documented within the realm of interior design, and can help inform choices when it comes to picking furniture, as well as general colour palettes. The ethos and attitude associated with each hue can impart various moods within an internal space, and can often be extremely helpful when attempting to impart a certain air, or desired emotion. Moreover, within each colour there are also many different sub categories of tones and shades, each with their own psychological effects and impressions. 

So how can you utilise different colours to enhance your property and its rooms? We here at homify have does the hard work for your and are going to take a look at some of the main colours that are employed within dwellings, and discuss some of their associated advantages and disadvantages. If you would like some assistance in choosing a new hue for your bedroom, or perhaps some dining room furniture, then look no further than today's Ideabook. Read on for creative and colourful inspiration!

Monochromatic grey

Shades: light grey, dark grey, charcoal, steel, French grey, warm grey, cool grey, sliver, chrome, slate

Grey is a truly interesting colour to employ within the home. Often assumed to be a depressing or bland hue, grey is actually a multi-faceted colour replete with many different tones. Grey exudes elegance, simplicity, and confidence. When paired with other colours such as white or black it is a conservative hue, with an understated calmness.  In the example above we see a brilliant room that has employed many different grey tones to create a space that is welcoming, clean, and clutter-free.

Tips: be careful when employing grey as too much can cause a depressive ambience, and when combined with too much brown, it can look drab and disjointed.

Earthy brown

Shades: terracotta, mahogany, birch, caramel, chestnut, bark, straw, wicker, dirt

Brown is the colour of the earth, a natural hue considered to evoke feelings of warmth and hospitality. Reassuring in its tone, it is perfect for homes that require a welcoming ambience, or a comforting atmosphere. 

Tips: If you are trying to create a warm space, remember to pair with plenty of cool colours as well. Cool colours will help to balance the intense warmth of your earthy brown hue, and keep the room fresh and inviting.

Luxurious blue

Shades: cobalt, ultramarine, sky blue, sea blue, aqua, teal, indigo, turquoise, dusty blue, duck egg, sapphire, royal blue, lapis lazuli, sea foam, naval blue

As one of the most popular colours on the wheel, blue is an easily understood hue. Calming and reminiscent of the ocean, blue is an intellectual colour that can create a cool and reflective environment. Perfect for within a hot area of the home, blue will instantly decrease the heat, and give the perception of a much cooler space.

Tips: as a hue blue is considered to be a colour that suppresses appetite. For this reason it is often avoided in places such as dining rooms and kitchens, although hints of the shade can work beautifully

Dramatic black

Shades: ebony, dark taupe, outer space, cafe noir, black bean, black olive, onyx, jet, liquorice, squid ink

Black is a powerful colour that is interpreted very differently in many cultures. In the western world it is associated with prestige, formality, mourning and often evil, whereas in other cultures it can mean the complete opposite. Ideal for drawing attention to a focal point within a room, black is dramatic, eye-catching, chic and sophisticated. 

Tips: black is often best used as a contrast hue, as it works well in conjunction with other colours. Too much black and it will absorb the light within the room, and may end up feeling cloistered or cluttered.

Delicate purple

Shades: lilac, violet, lavender, royal purple (Tyrian), pastel purple, mulberry, pansy, thistle, mauve, orchid, wisteria

Purple is a colour that has one of the most interesting histories. Originally the most expensive of all pigments, Tyrian purple was created by harvesting the mucus glands of the murex shellfish. As it was so pricey to create, it was consequently the chosen hue for royalty and kings. It is a passionate colour, and can create an opulent and luxurious aesthetic. If you are finding it difficult to employ your chosen hue, or you aren't achieving your desired results, chat to a professional interior designer for some handy advice and tips. 

Tips: among many of the connotations and psychological theories associated with the colour purple, it is widely regarded as a colour that increases sexual drive and also tension. So perhaps consider the volume of purple you include in different areas of your home.

Passionate red

​SECRET GUEST HOUSE Pascal Arquitectos Modern dining room
Pascal Arquitectos


Pascal Arquitectos

Shades: cherry, rose, merlot, garnet, crimson, scarlet, wine, blood, brick, mahogany, currant, blush, candy, sangria, shiraz, auburn, burgundy, carmine, cerise, fire engine, maroon, oxblood, raspberry

The colour of passion and indulgence, red is a tried and tested favourite. Use this hue as a feature within a room, or make it the star of the show on the walls. Red evokes luxury, desire, hunger, and has been suggested it increases appetite. 

Tips: As there are so many different shades and tones of red, it is extremely important you choose your hue carefully to obtain the desired ambience and air.

Lively yellow

Shades: canary, bumblebee, gold, flax, dandelion, butterscotch, banana, pineapple, honey, lemon, pastel yellow

Lively, bright, and full of effervescence, yellow is a fabulous colour to create an optimistic and sunny ambience. As a hue that stimulates the mind and body, yellow can also help with concentration, and emotional issues. Many individuals are divided on the use of yellow within the home, but it is undoubtedly a colour that works very well in reflecting light and creating a brighter, more cheerful space. 

Tips: yellow can cause crankiness and anxiety. Ensure you implement your yellow wisely, and perhaps choose areas of your home that will benefit from a little liveliness, such as the bathroom where yellow can brighten and enliven a compact space.

Revitalising green

Shades: mint, pistachio, chartreuse, sage, olive, emerald, basil, crocodile, parakeet, jungle, grass, juniper, British racing green, shamrock, cerulean, veridian

A natural colour, green is calming, relaxed, and gentle. Perfectly utilised as a reflective and relaxing hue, we see green employed in many different domestic settings. The colour of grass, trees, and many other natural elements, this hue is wonderful in relaxing the mind and soul, and is therefore recommended for bedrooms, bathrooms, and tranquil living spaces. 

Tips: green is a colour that can really go wrong when used or employed incorrectly. Green works best when combined with other colours, so ensure you break up the hue with complimentary or contrasting shades.

Neutral white

Shades: antique white, titanium white, ecru, cream, off-white, ghost, smoke, powder, snow, ivory, seashell, corn silk, lace, champagne, eggshell, bone, vanilla

Probably the most commonly employed hue within the home, white is a versatile, practical, and timeless colour. Not actually a colour at all, white is the shade that is produced when all of the tones and hues on the colour wheel are combined. White is clean, minimal and crisp, perfect for any internal space, but especially compact areas that need to be opened up. 

Tips: white is an easy to use hue that is almost full-proof when decorating. However, if you want to avoid your space feeling sterile or hospital-esque, pair with contrasting hues, or different white shades.

Now you have a starting point for your interior refurbishment or refresh! If you would like to continue reading about colours and their impact in the home, check out our other Ideabook: Using colour in your home

Which colour is your favourite for decorating and designing your home? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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