How to Pick Colours

Paint colour swatches

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." - Pablo Picasso

Congratulations. You have decided to redecorate.

What colours shall I choose, how will I pick several colours, are there wrong colours? All very important questions and there are lots of ways to address them.

Most people decorate as they dress, if you like bright colours you may put them in at least a few places in your home. Most however choose what is trendy, or their favourites or neutrals "that will go with anything".

The best way to choose is pick what you like and what makes you happy. One of the easiest ways is to find the colour you like on a paint strip and use the whole strip to compliment the rest of your room and home. (See example below)

For the price of a couple of gallons of paint you can hire a professional who will guide you in your choices and explain why what colour works and why others may not be the best choice. Your local paint dealers are very knowledgeable as well and are happy to help regardless of where your painter gets his paint.

Below is a Psychology of Colour it is fun to see what colour means.

Colour and How It Makes You Feel

Eye with colour choices

Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed?

Artists and interior designers have long understood how color can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood and cause physiological reactions. Certain colors can raise blood pressure, increase metabolism or cause eyestrain.

Of course, your feelings about color can also be deeply personal and are often rooted in your own experience or culture. For example, while the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.

Why is color such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? Continue reading to further explore the history of color including how it's used, the effects it may have and some of the most recent research on color psychology.

What Is Color?

Colour theory

In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colors. Newton also found that each color is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colors.

Further experiments demonstrated that light could be combined to form other colors. For example, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange color. Some colors, such as yellow and purple, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light.

Color Psychology - The Psychological Effects of Color

While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.

Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Color Psychology as Therapy

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or using colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

In this treatment:

Most psychologists view color therapy with scepticism and point out that the supposed effects of color have been exaggerated. Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. Research has demonstrated in many cases that the mood-altering effects of color may only be temporary. A blue room may initially cause feelings of calm, but the effect dissipates after a short period of time.

Studies have also shown that certain colors can have an impact on performance. Exposing students to the color red prior to an exam has been shown to have a negative impact on test performance. More recently, researchers discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities

Most important spend some time considering your color choices before you paint — perhaps buy a quart of the main colors and put some on the wall or a large piece of paper or card just to see what it looks like… Have fun with your decor change.

Colour strip


This example of a color strip could be used in the following way. Say the main color you like is "Sweet Innocence" you could use "Black Panther" as a feature wall. If you were brave you could use "Wedding Veil" as ceiling and trim color and for the doors too. If you had an office which wants a darker cozier feel you might use "Gray Shower" as a wall color with "Sweet Innocence" as a trim and door color with ceiling done in "Marilyn's Dress". The point is they all work in harmony with each other, and using this method is fairly easy and typically ends up with a coordinated look.

Thanks goes to Donna Fairweather BFA, Architectural Designer
Livingstone & Company Design Inc. of Winnipeg 887-4841 for her help with the article