COLOUR ME HAPPY
Paint schemes and lighting can change how you work and feel
Staying at home for any prolonged length of time isn’t a natural state for most people, and yet, around the world, this is currently the new norm. Many of us are now working from home, and contending with factors like everyone else in your household suddenly being home with you, which can include small children. Any physical adjustments we can make to our home environments to make them feel happier, healthier, calmer and more productive are worth hearing about.
Colour is a good place to start, says Justine Fox, co-founder of London-based colour agency Calzada Fox, which specializes in colour research and psychology.
You can use colour, along with lighting, to draw you through the different spaces in your home, says Fox. Vibrant colour choices are a great option for social areas of the home, she says, because they make us feel lively, and soothing, relaxing colours are perfect for bedrooms.
“Because I’m a colourist, people think that my house will be incredibly colourful, but the space where I work is actually a super pale, purple grey, almost white, and it’s because you don’t always want that distraction of so much intensity around you,” she says.
The dark blue shades that have been on trend recently are very immersive, says Fox, and though they work really well in sensory deprivation, or spa rooms, they can become “daunting or depressing ” if you’re surrounded by them for too long, so not ideal for home offices.
It’s all about getting the right shade of intensity, says Fox, so you get the benefits without it being too much. People have gone “a bit nuts” with the colour grey, over the last year, says Fox, painting entire interiors in this colour.
“They must have been exhausted all the time because it kind of drains all your energy,” she says.
From a trends perspective, the paint industry is becoming more colourful and vibrant again, says Fox, which could be driven by a feeling of social unease.
“It’s that wish for a bit of escapism. A lot of people have been talking about 2020 and relating it to the 1920s, economically, and being in a very similar position to what they were in then. Some of them pushed over into utter decadence and you do see some of that coming through in colour, where people have that attitude that it’s all too much, so let’s just go a bit wild in things that don’t matter so much,” she says.
Introducing colour in your home doesn’t mean you have to do a dramatic renovation or even paint an entire room, says Fox.
“It can be the colour of some accessories that give you a focal point. Or surrounding yourself with plants, as you’re getting the benefits of oxygen, and the greenery itself has a reassuring, relaxing and calming effect that signals everything is all right,” she says.
Like many of us, Fox is presently working from home, around the needs of her two children, and has just ordered a “tiny” desk from Ikea to “shove into the corner” of her bedroom for when she really needs to concentrate. Her usual ritual for transitioning into work mode, when working from home, includes clearing away all her family’s clutter and changing the lighting.
“I have colour-changing light bulbs in our living room, so I can change the light to blue white, because it’s really energizing and it helps the circadian rhythm,” she says.
The colour of the lighting in your home is something people don’t often think about, says Fox, but it has a profound effect on our mood and energy levels.
The golden, amber light of early evening, she says, (replicated by the popular ’20s style Edison bulbs) tells the body it’s time to wind down and relax, so this isn’t always the best light for a home office.
In the last few years, people have become more aware of the effect of the blue light given off by our tech devices (phones, ipads etc.) says Fox, which keeps us awake (as it replicates the bluish white light of midday).
“People are using it later and later into the night, and it’s messing up their systems, so they’re eating more — hence the obesity and diabetes — but also it’s impacting our sleep, which is increasing mental health issues,” she says.