2012 October – Colour for Interior Design


color-wheel-primaryIn my opinion COLOUR is an essential and important element of interior design, and not purely from anaesthetic point of view, but has huge impact on the human psyche and can affect our moods.

RED, YELLOW and BLUE are the primary colours. They are pure and cannot be made by mixing other colours. However the combination of any two primary colours creates a secondary colour.



ORANGE, GREEN and VIOLET are the secondary colours, each produced by an equal mixture of two ot the primary colours either side of them on the colour circle. color-wheel-secondary


A tertiary colour is a colour made by mixing one primary  with one secondary colour. For example: Blue (Primary) with Violet (Secondary) will produce Blue-Violet. There are 6 tertiary colours shown in the colours wheel. color-wheel-tertiary

Every individual colour on the basic colour wheel can be altered in three ways by Tinting, Shading or Toning.

In colour theory, a tint is the mixture of a colour with white, which increases lightness.

A shade is the mixture of a colour with black, which reduces lightness. It can be extremely dark, nearly black to a barely shaded pure hue. What is more almost every colour we see in our day-to-day world has been toned either a little or a lot, so the tone refers to how light or dark it is. Mixing a colour with any neutral colour, including black and white, reduces the chroma, or colourfulness, while the hue remains unchanged.

A hue is an element of the colour wheel and refers to the pure spectrum colour.

“ Colours, like features, follow the changes of emotions” (Pablo Picasso)

The psychology of colour is based on mental and emotional effects colours have on people in all facets of life. It can affect moods, feelings and emotions, but also can be used to signal action or cause physiological reactions. Furthermore feelings about colours can also be deeply personal and are often influenced by our own experience or even culture. Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) believed there are certain natural reactions to colour regardless of social and cultural conditioning, “colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious”. The Mother Tongue he referred to assumed that reactions to certain colours were universal, for ex.

Blue – sea, sky, calm, trust, serenity, truth, space. Imagine sitting in a boat far out to sea, does this give you a sense of freedom and perspective or does it make you feel cold, scared and lonely?

Blue colour also represents feelings of calmness or serenity, but can create feelings of sadness or aloofness too. What is more, blue can also lower the pulse rate and body temperature.

Green positive: nature, luck, new beginnings, prosperity, health and harmony; negative: stagnation, jealousy and inexperience. Green is a cool colour that symbolizes nature and the natural world. The natural greens, from forest to lime, are seen as tranquil and refreshing.  It has long been a symbol of fertility, but also can relive stress and help heal. Green colour is often used in decorating for its calming effect.

Complementary colours are the opposite colours on the hue circle, they contrast with each other.

For example:

Red and Green

Violet and Yellow

Blue and Orange


Monochromatic colour scheme, starting with a single colour uses tones, tints and shades within that colour to create variation. In addition, the one colour is often paired with white or another neutral.

Harmonious colours refer to pairs of colour that lie next to each other on the hue circle. They are less contrasting than complementary colours and give a restful harmony to a scheme. For example:

Red, Orange and Yellow

                                                  Blue, Violet and Green


Unit_3_3&5 C copy Unit_3_historical_3C copy


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