Understanding colour psychology and its importance in interior design

03 March, 2023

Interior Design Fundamentals

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F&B Interior Design

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We perceive different interior designs as representations of different moods, mindsets or personality types. In this context, colour psychology plays a vital role in deciding the mood or atmosphere of a design. 

Have you ever noticed that light or earth-coloured spaces give off a sense of calm and tranquillity, whereas you tend to feel excited or rushed when you are in a bright, colourful space? This is because different colours affect moods and emotions differently. 

Some colours tend to make you feel happy and positive, while others can actually bring you mood down, making you feel restless, dull or unmotivated. 

That's why it's so important to choose the right colours for the design of your business, whether it's a cafΓ©, restaurant or hotel. 

To help you decipher the world of colour psychology, in this blog post we will delve into the world of colour psychology and its importance in interior design and how you can harness the benefits of this science to make your space not only look great, but also feel a certain way, to achieve your business goals.

We will explore the meanings and emotions associated with different colours, how they can be used effectively in interior design and tips for selecting the right colour palette for your space.

Whether you aspire to start a business or own many and want to rebrand, understanding the psychology of colour can help you create an environment that is not only visually appealing, but also emotionally impactful.

What is colour psychology and how does it relate to interior design?

What is colour psychology and why is it important in interior design?

Colour psychology is the study between colour and human behaviour. In other words, colour psychology perceives colour as a trigger for human perception, feelings and emotions.

Although the meaning of colour may vary from one culture to another, most colours are perceived equally by human beings.

For example, white is a symbol of calmness in Western cultures. At the same time, it is a symbol of loss in Eastern societies. Red is a colour of aggressiveness in Western cultures. However, the same shade brings good fortune in Chinese culture. At the same time, red is the colour of love in both Eastern and Western cultures.

So why is colour so important in the psychology of interior design? The psychology of colour in interior design highlights the purpose of the space. It also leads people to act in a certain way.

We don't find a red hospital in Western countries, do we? But what about a hospital in light blue, or white? Why are there colours that match a type of space or activity? Colour psychology is the answer.

The use of colour in interior design is more than just an aesthetic choice. It has a profound effect on the mood and emotions of those who inhabit a space. This is where colour psychology comes into play.

Colour psychology is the study of how colour affects human behaviour, mood and emotions. Understanding colour psychology is crucial to creating spaces that evoke the desired emotions and create the desired atmosphere.

Colours can be classified into warm and cool tones. Warm colours such as red, yellow and orange are associated with energy, warmth and happiness, while cool colours such as blue, green and purple are associated with calm, relaxation and serenity.

The intensity and saturation of a colour can also affect emotional response. Bright, vivid colours can be stimulating and energising, while muted or pastel colours can be calming and soothing.

Knowing the psychology of colour is essential when creating the space for your business because it can help to create the desired mood or atmosphere in your premises.

For example, a beauty clinic can benefit from cool, calming colours such as blue or green, while a restaurant can benefit from warm, energetic colours such as red or orange to create a lively and social atmosphere.

Colour is a powerful element in brand communication. In interior design, the psychology of colour highlights an aesthetic. It also influences the mood, not only of the space, but also of everyone in it.

There are some aspects that really need to be considered before you start designing an interior. For example, the purpose. What is the purpose of your interior design project? Is it a soothing beauty spa or an upscale restaurant? A nightclub or a clothing boutique? Is it an outdoor area for outdoor parties or an escape from the city? Who is the buyer persona? Which is their age and lifestyle?

Asking yourself these questions beforehand will help you assess the best options, the interior design should be functional and visually pleasing in equal measure.

What is colour?

In short, colour is the visual perception of different wavelengths of light. It is a property of light and, without it, we would not be able to perceive colours.

When light strikes an object, some wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected. The reflected wavelengths are what we see as colour.

That is colour, so what is black and white? Objects appear white if a rough surface reflects different wavelengths with approximately the same intensity. Whereas, black means that an object absorbs all wavelengths instead of reflecting them.

Colours can be divided into different categories: primary, secondary and tertiary colours. The basis of all colours are the primary colours red, yellow and blue, and all other colours can be created by mixing these three, but cannot be created by mixing other colours.

Secondary colours are created by mixing two primaries, while tertiary colours are created by mixing a primary with a secondary.

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The impact of colour on human emotion and behaviour

Colour is a powerful tool in interior design. It can create a certain mood or atmosphere in a space, evoke emotions and even influence behaviour. The impact of colour on human emotions and behaviour is a fascinating and important topic for interior designers.

Warm colours such as red, orange and yellow are associated with energy, warmth and happiness. They can create a sense of excitement and stimulate the senses, making them ideal for social spaces such as living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.

Cool colours such as blue, green and purple are associated with calm, relaxation and serenity. They can create a sense of peace and tranquillity, making them ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms and other rest areas.

Colours can also have a physiological impact on the body. For example, blue has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, while red increases appetite and stimulates the senses. This is why red is often used in restaurants and other food-related spaces.

Colour can also influence behaviour. For example, yellow has been shown to improve attention and concentration, making it a great choice for home offices and work spaces. Green has been shown to promote a sense of calm and balance, making it a good choice for meditation rooms or yoga studios.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone responds to colour differently. Cultural and personal experiences can influence how a person perceives and responds to colour. This is why it is important for interior designers to work closely with their clients to learn about their preferences and how they want to feel in their space.

The impact of colour on human emotions and behaviour is significant and should be taken into account when designing a space. Understanding how colour affects mood, emotion and behaviour can help interior designers create environments that are not only visually appealing, but also emotionally impactful.

By using colour intentionally, interior designers can create spaces that enhance the well-being of their clients and create a more positive and welcoming atmosphere.

Colour Psychology Basics: The colour wheel and its primary, secondary and tertiary colours

The colour wheel is a tool used by designers to create colour schemes and coordinate colours in a space. It is a visual representation of the colours of the spectrum, arranged in a circle.

The colour wheel is divided into three categories: primary, secondary and tertiary colours.

Color combinations

Each colour on the wheel has a relationship to the colours around it.

By understanding primary, secondary and tertiary colours, as well as the relationships between them, designers can create colour combinations that are aesthetically pleasing and emotionally impactful.

Whether you want to create a bold and dynamic space or a calm and relaxing environment, the colour wheel is a valuable resource for any interior design project.

Emotions and moods associated with colours: The role of different colours

Here is a list of 11 colours that are commonly used in hospitality interior design and the effects they have on the human mind:

Colour has a significant impact on our emotions and mood, and different colours can evoke a wide range of feelings. The best interior designers use this knowledge to create spaces that convey a particular mood or emotion.

Here is a breakdown of some of the emotions and moods associated with different colours:

Red

This colour is associated with energy, passion and ambition. It can evoke strong emotions, increase heart rate and blood pressure and stimulate the senses. Red causes excitement, which is why this passionate shade is often associated with aggression.

In a hospitality project, red is best suited for a fast food restaurant or gym where a lively and energetic atmosphere is desired.

Red is bold and provocative. However, depending on its shade, red can fit into any style of interior design.

Brown

A lighter and softer deviation from red is the colour brown. With its natural tone and soft, soothing essence, brown can work wonders in large spaces to synchronise different elements.

Brown tends to relax the senses, perhaps too much, leading to inactivity and aimlessness.

In contrast, in combination with vibrant tones and other natural shades, brown can symbolise resilience and security.

Orange

This colour is associated with warmth, enthusiasm and creativity. It can create a sense of optimism and positivity, making it an excellent choice for spaces where people gather to socialise, such as kitchens or playrooms.

Orange is cheerful and jovial. The juxtaposition of red and yellow results in a warm and fierce colour.

When it comes to colour psychology in interior design, orange is a very interesting colour for restaurants. Why? Because orange provokes hunger and sociability. The perfect duo for a profitable business.

Yellow

This colour is associated with happiness, joy and optimism. It can evoke feelings of warmth and cheerfulness, making it an ideal colour for spaces that need a boost of energy, such as entrances or hallways.

Yellow is vibrant and full of energy. Yellow is the colour of the sun and the core of flowers. In interior design, yellow will energise people and lift the mood of the room.

This colour fits perfectly in a retro Bauhaus-inspired interior design project. Yellow is also a good colour for bohemian or maximalist interiors.

Green

This colour is associated with balance, growth and harmony. It can create a sense of calm and tranquillity, making it a good choice for spaces where people go to relax, such as spas or meditation rooms.

Green is the colour of nature and the colour of greed. Found in leaves and money, green is the colour of things we cannot survive without. Consequently, green means fertility, growth and perspective.

Blue

This colour is associated with peace, serenity and stability. It can create a calming and soothing effect on the mind and body, making it a good choice for bathrooms or other spaces where people go to relax.

In terms of the colour's psychological effects, blue relaxes the mind and slows down heart rate, metabolism, blood pressure and hypertension.

Aquatic shades of blue in particular, such as sky blue and light blue, have a healing effect on the mind. It is reminiscent of the sea or swimming pools. Blue is the only colour that has a whole range of positive effects and little or no negative effects on the psyche.

Most dark shades of blue are associated with elegance, luxury and royalty, while sapphire colours add prominence to the design scheme. All in all, blue is an excellent colour combination that goes well with all modern and contemporary interior design trends.

Purple

This colour is associated with luxury, creativity and spirituality. It can evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue. In contrast, lighter shades, such as lavender and mauve, create a calm but regal effect in design.

As purple inspires creativity, you can add it to dressing rooms, dressing rooms, art studios or meditation rooms. This colour is particularly popular with teenagers, as it inspires them towards the creative and performing arts.

The royalty of purple also works well in public areas, bringing an essence of calm, elegance and luxury.

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Pink

The colour pink influences the emotions closest to the heart. When used properly, pink and all its shades create an atmosphere of love and sympathy.

Although pink is largely associated with feminism, it can also be used for a masculine effect. Simple motifs and sophisticated designs can take pink to a new level in modern interior design trends. It provokes feelings of comfort and love.

Complement pink with natural or vibrant shades of red and white for form and function. It helps prevent any feelings of loss and excessive sweetness.

White

White is a primary colour that represents peace, care, purity and wholeness. This shade also represents freshness.

As a result, white is the predominant colour in the minimalist style of interior design, resorts, cafes and restaurants.

White is the favourite colour for clinics, spas and wellness centres.

It represents cleanliness and makes it easy to spot any marks or dirt on the surface.

Grey

Grey is another neutral colour that is associated with elegance and style. Although there is some controversy about the effects of grey on the human mind, if used correctly, it can have quite a positive effect.

Some people find it depressing. However, grey can be used as a neutraliser for vibrant colour combinations.

It is best to avoid light grey on walls, but you can use dark grey on a wall and surround it with cheerful colours such as white, yellow or pink.

You can also implement grey colours on furniture in a bright room. It brings elegance and sophistication to the design.

Black

The colour black has always been synonymous with versatility and elegance. Black stands for simplicity and functionality. This colour works best in modern architecture and interior design.

From a psychological point of view, an all-black room can be overwhelming and gloomy.

However, when combined with red, white, blue or almost any other colour, it provides an outstanding contrast.

As described above, colour plays a powerful role in creating emotions and moods in interior design.

By understanding the emotions and moods associated with different colours, interior designers can create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also emotionally impactful.

Colour is an essential tool in any interior design project, whether the aim is to create a lively and energetic space or a calm and relaxing environment.

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How cultural differences can influence colour associations

Colour is not only a visual aspect of design, but also a cultural one. The meaning and significance of colours vary from culture to culture and may have different connotations and associations. These cultural differences can significantly influence the use of colours in interior design.

For example, in Western cultures, white is often associated with purity, innocence and cleanliness. However, in many Eastern cultures, white is associated with mourning and funerals, so it is not a popular colour in interior design. Red, on the other hand, is often associated with love and passion in Western cultures, while in some Eastern cultures it is associated with luck and prosperity.

In Indian culture, bright and bold colours are often used in interior design, such as oranges, pinks and yellows, which are associated with joy, happiness and celebration. In contrast, in Japanese culture, muted colours, such as beige and grey, are often used in interior design to create a calm and serene atmosphere.

Understanding cultural differences in colour associations is crucial to bring your brand to its full potential and connect with customers from different cultures.

It is essential to take cultural nuances into account when selecting colours for a space to ensure that the design is culturally appropriate and in line with the client's preferences and values.

By taking a thoughtful and nuanced approach to colour selection, interior designers can create spaces that reflect the personality, cultural background and values of your brand.

Colour psychology: Tips for choosing a colour palette that reflects the desired mood and ambience

When it comes to interior design for businesses, choosing the right colour palette can make all the difference in creating the desired atmosphere and ambience for the space.

Here are some tips for choosing a colour palette that reflects the desired atmosphere and ambience for your business interior design.

Selecting the right colour palette for your business interior design can have a significant impact on the ambiance and atmosphere of the space.

You can develop a unified and powerful color scheme that reflects the character and values of your company by taking into account the type of business, the desired atmosphere and ambience, using a color wheel as a guide, taking into account the lighting and space, and testing the colors in the space.

How to use colour to create a coherent concept for a hotel, restaurant or coffee shop

When designing a space for a business, colour can be used to create a consistent theme or brand that extends through customer touch points.

By carefully selecting a colour palette that reflects your brand identity, you can create a memorable and cohesive experience for your customers.

Here are some tips on how to use colour to develop a cohesive brand throughout the interior:

Using colour to develop a consistent brand throughout the interior is essential for businesses that want to create a memorable experience for customers.

By starting with your brand identity, choosing a primary colour, using complementary colours, considering colour psychology and maintaining consistency, you can create a space that accurately reflects your brand and creates a consistent theme that customers will remember.

A well-designed interior that accurately represents the brand identity can help businesses build customer loyalty and stand out from the competition.

Final thoughts and recommendations on the importance of colour psychology in hospitality interior design

Incorporating colour psychology into interior design can have a significant impact on the overall success of a space, especially in the business and hospitality sectors. Here are some final thoughts and recommendations for interior designers and business owners interested in using colour psychology in their spaces:

Before choosing colours, always consider the mood and purpose of the space. For example, warm and welcoming colours may work well in a cosy restaurant, but not in a professional office.

Be aware of cultural differences and how they may influence colour associations. When designing for a diverse audience, it is essential to take into account different cultural perspectives and their unique colour meanings.

Test colour combinations in the intended environment to see how lighting and other factors may influence the appearance of colours.

Use colour to create a cohesive brand and theme throughout the space. This can enhance the overall customer experience and create a memorable and recognisable identity.

Don't be afraid to experiment with bold and unconventional colour combinations. It can lead to unique and impactful design choices, as long as they fit the intended purpose of the space.

In conclusion, colour psychology is a powerful tool in interior design, and understanding its effects can help designers and business owners create successful and impactful spaces. By following these recommendations and guidelines, you can create interiors that are not only visually appealing, but also evoke the desired emotions and behaviours in the people who occupy them.

Now you can go ahead and apply everything you have learned. Or contact me and my team will take care of everything. We are just a click away.

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Yaiza Martinez

Founder and Lead Designer

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