GET HAPPY WITH COLOUR
Interior designer Oliver Heath gives his decorating tips and tricks to help you improve your wellbeing and create a home that feels bigger, cosier and happier
‘Colour has an impact on our health and wellbeing, reducing stress, aiding relaxation and recuperation, and energising rooms, to make a home a happier and healthier place to live,’ says House Beautiful’s eco design expert Oliver Heath (pictured). It’s not just a question of surrounding yourself with favourite hues; it’s more about selecting colours we’ve had joyful experiences with in the past.’
Colours can boost our emotions and affect our moods:
Blues are reminiscent of clear skies or placid pools of water. They feel both tranquil and relaxing.
Greens have a calming, restorative and invigorating effect as they reflect healthy, lush landscapes.
Yellows remind us of the enriching warmth from the sun’s light, so are wonderfully uplifting and mood-enhancing.
Oranges bring to mind juicy fruits and berries so can be reassuring, energising and stimulating.
Reds are seen in flowers, fruits and the heat from fires, so they feel warm, nourishing and comforting.
ENHANCING SPACE AND LIGHT
To boost wellbeing, your home should provide a variety of spaces that make it easy for you to move around and to mix with family and friends. These can include:
Relaxation spaces such as lounge areas and bathrooms that will help you to recover from a long day.
Retreat spaces including bedrooms that allow for recuperation and quiet time.
Social spaces such as the kitchen and garden, where we can relax, congregate and share our daily experiences.
Energising active spaces such as dining and living rooms for family times, or as study or workspaces.
Colour can affect our physical and emotional response, but it’s not the only thing. Light is a key factor in how colour appears so consider how natural light falls into a space. Natural light creates a constantly changing spectrum of colours throughout the day, from warm in the morning, to cool at midday and back to warm in the evening. The quality of light in the UK also affects the colours we can use.
Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux, says: ‘Bright, vivid saturated colour can be jarring in our light, but when you add a little grey, it softens. The further north you go, the more subtle and grey colours become, almost in tune with the landscape and with the way we see colours outside. They work because they reflect the landscape and that helps us feel at home with them.’
The move to brighter, sharper LED bulbs is opening up new colour palettes. ‘One of the reasons there’s now a revolution in grey is because it looks so good in the new kinds of lighting,’ says Marianne.
CREATING THE MOOD
‘Longer wavelength colours such as red, orange and yellow draw the walls in towards us and create a lovely cosy atmosphere,’ explains Marianne. ‘They can suggest warmth and happiness and are stimulating, bringing to mind fire, sunshine and chilli peppers. They’re perfect for dining spaces or lounges where you want people to be chatting, enjoying food, conversation and cosying up to each other, but not so good for studies or kitchens where there may already be too much stimulation.
‘By contrast the shorter visual wavelength colours such as blue, green and violet are less stimulating and create a tranquil environment reminding us of the sea and the sky and the great expanse of nature, pastures and living things. They’re the colours that make a room seem bigger, and are great in spaces used for relaxing and recuperating from a busy day.’
A simple way to create a more relaxing atmosphere is to use tones of the same colour. Marianne says: ‘They’re easy to look at and you only have one colour to process.’ Including paler colours in greater quantities on floors and walls and then picking out smaller features such as window frames, doors and mouldings in darker tones, works really well.
Accent colours help to create a greater level of energy. Looking at a colour wheel, select a cooler neutral tone such as blue and grey to start, then choose a shot of a vibrant colour such as orange from the opposite side of the wheel. This could be in a paint colour but could also be a vase, an artwork or even a flower, and it will lift the energy of the whole space.’
A classic combination, energising orange balances the restful tones of grey
…while a mix of delicate patterns looks gorgeous in warm berry tones…
Pale dove works beautifully teamed with a block of coral…
…and pale pink is a fantastic way to highlight architectural features
…or use softer tones together as a wonderful backdrop for dramatic black furniture…
Ramp up the contrast for a vibrant energising scheme…
…and emphasise green’s natural beauty using fern prints, foliage and monochrome accessories
Blue shades are warm when combined with wood and natural finishes…
…or fresh and lively when used in ethnic-style patterns on crisp white linens
Cobalt blue makes a stunning focal point…