Vanessa Arbuthnott on colour – how different shades can change your mood

Vanessa Arbuthnott shares the best decorating choices for rooms based around the psychology of colour, from sociable shades of yellow and orange to tranquil tones of green and pink.

Colour is something we take for granted, but it has a massive impact on our mood and wellbeing. It can make us feel motivated, fill us with confidence, calm us down or even spark romance. With so much hanging on our colour choices, it’s important to get it right when decorating your home. Here, Vanessa Arbuthnott shares eight of the most popular colours from her collection, how they affect your mood and what rooms they work best in as a result.

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Boost brainpower with blue

‘It’s been proven that students exposed to blue before undertaking an exam achieved greater results, making it the perfect colour choice for a bedroom or study,’ says Vanessa. Although she does warn that too much blue can make a room feel a little unwelcoming – ‘be sure to balance with warm undertones, such as yellows and creams,’ she suggests.

Relax with restful green

Green is synonymous with nature, balance and wealth, which is why it’s so often seen in bedrooms and other rooms we like to relax in, such as living rooms and bathrooms. However, Vanessa warns not to go over the top. ‘In large doses it has been shown to make us experience feelings of jealousy – the infamous green monster,’ she explains. Mixing it in with blue or even soft pinks will avoid any eruptions of envy.

Take an optimistic approach with yellow

Sunny yellow is the happiest colour, heightening optimism, confidence and energy. However, the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ rings true, as an over-the-top yellow scheme has been proven to evoke feelings of distress. ‘Babies actually seem to cry more in yellow rooms,’ says Vanessa, ‘so it’s best avoided in bedrooms.’ Keep it low-key in sociable kitchens and dining rooms for the perfect balance.

Warm up to orange

While not everyone’s first choice – particularly in America where it’s associated with prison uniforms and Halloween (!) – orange is actually one of the most friendly of colours. ‘It’s a social shade often used in gyms and active wear brands due to its motivational, get-up-and-go qualities,’ reveals Vanessa. Give guests a warm and enthusiastic welcome by using it in kitchens and hallways.

Stir up excitement with red

Representing passion, optimism and adventure, red raises a room’s energy level, stimulating conversation and drawing people together. ‘It is used a lot in food and drink branding across the world as it is known to stimulate appetite – think Coca Cola,’ Vanessa explains. That makes it great for social rooms such as dining rooms and kitchens.’

You might want to avoid it in the bedroom, though. It’s been shown to speed up the heart rate – not what you want just before falling asleep.

Spread calm with pink

Ever heard of the pink effect? Exposures to large amounts of this pretty shade can have a calming effect on nerves, relieving feelings of anger and frustration. Choose pastel shades for children’s bedrooms or darker hues for a more sophisticated scheme.

‘In society, pink can represent a sense of immaturity, a lack of will power and self-worth,’ says Vanessa. ‘Yet this can be easily balanced with an injection of black and grey, which work well with the lighter colour.’

See our Neutral room ideas – light, dark and timeless ways with colour

Lift spirits with lilac

‘Lilac is proven to be the most spiritual colour, often linked with the area between earth and heaven and used a lot by spiritualists and mediums,’ reveals Vanessa, who suggests you use it in your bathroom or bedroom for a calming space. Be sure, however, to bring in a few brighter tones, as too much lilac can leave you feeling a little down in the dumps.

Assert yourself with black or grey

‘Although it might not be the first colour that comes to mind, black implies self-control and discipline. It also symbolises independence and a strong will and gives an impression of authority and power,’ says Vanessa. ‘However, it is worth remembering that too much black can cause depression and a negative environment so be sure to use in moderation!’ Use in small doses as an accent colour to avoid overwhelming a room, or go down the colourwheel and choose a versatile grey, instead.

For more colour inspiration, visit vanessaarbuthnott.co.uk

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