The Ambiance of Colours

Picking the right colours for your home

You can change the ambiance of a room simply by changing its colour. Painting it a different colour is the quickest and easiest way of giving a room a facelift. Colour has a profound effect on people that it can even be used for therapeutic purposes. Public and commercial buildings are painted with this in mind so it is best that you should apply the same principle to your home.

Colour is emotion. Red is identified with anger. Blue is sad. Green is envy. White is pure. Yellow is happy. It is definitely intimidating to use these colours because of the association but mixed in the right shade and in combination with other hues, and then you can have a room that is alive and cosy.

There are seven hues in the spectrum of colours - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. A more detailed presentation is the colour wheel where the 7 colours are mixed and blended to represent 3 primary colours (red, yellow, blue); 3 secondary colours (green, orange, violet) and 6 tertiary colours (yellow-green, blue-green, red-orange, yellow-orange, red-violet and blue-violet).

A basic in colour application is that warm colours such as reds, oranges and yellows advance making objects seem closer. Cool colours such as blues, greens and purples, make objects recede. A cramp and small room could be made to look larger by painting it in light and cool hues. A large and imposing room could be made to feel and look more intimate by painting it in warm colours.

Colours could be used in conjunction with other textures and materials for a more visual effect. The colour of a room will dictate the mood it sets off to the occupants. Do you think you will be able to rest and relax in a room that is painted bright red and orange? Do you think painting an office subtle shades of blues and whites will make the employees more productive?


The colour white has always been associated with innocence, purity and cleanliness. The colour white and its variants create a peaceful and relaxing interior. White is easy to use as it combines well with other colours. It could make small areas look bigger. It could brighten up a dark room. It could invoke a simple country style or optimum elegance when combined with gold. Pure whites have a bluish tint. This kind of white is perfect for areas that receive a large amount of sunlight somewhere where the sea is just a stone's throw away. Using pure white, however, is not advisable in most homes as it would look quite sterile and cold. It is best to add a pigment of red, yellow or brown for a creamy-warm white.


Blue has always been associated with calmness, infinity, relaxation, tranquillity and coolness. Blue rooms are peaceful. The colour conjures up an image of the summer skies, the gentle waves in the ocean. It is gentle and soft to look at making it the most "spiritual" colour in the spectrum.

Bright blues can be lively and vibrant. However you can subdue a shade of blue that is too bright by adding a touch of white. Cobalt and aquamarine are quite bright. Powder blue is gentle and nice - makes you think of babies and cute puppies. Too many shades of blue used together can look too cold. However, blue can be combined with other colours in similar tones. You could use dusty blue with pale green, sandy yellow or pale mauve. For a stronger shade of blue, complement it with orange, bright green or egg-yolk yellow. To make the room warmer get in some wood and terracotta finishing. Blue, used in colour therapy, has been said to reduce blood pressure and inflammation.


Green is the colour of spring and fresh air and breeze. Green is the perfect choice for creating a natural, restful and secure ambiance. Greens have a cheering effect much like after seeing the first green leaf after a long and bitter winter. Shades of green that are wonderful to use in your home are: emerald, turquoise, apple green, lime green, olive, sage, forest green and pistachio. There are shades of greens that seem neutral. You can put some pizzazz in a dominantly green room by adding a splash of red. Green is so peaceful and calming that surgeons use green scrub suits. For a subtle effect choose light soft greens like sage or pistachio. Strong and dark greens are for a more dramatic and plush effect especially when used with reds, oranges and dark yellows.


Yellow is a very positive colour. It is the colour of sunshine, spring and hot sandy beaches. Yellow can be hot or cold depending on the amount of red added to it. Egg-yolk yellow and butter-yellow are warm. Lemon yellow is sharp. Ochre is earthy and mellow. Any shade of yellow would enhance natural light. If you choose strong yellows, be ready to complement it with strong colours too like pinks, greens and blues. If you use softer yellows like primrose yellow, then you can add white or shades of whites, lavender, cool blues and greys for a soothing and relaxing feel.


Red is passionate, angry, warm and energetic. It has been known to increase heart rate and blood circulation. Red could be a demanding colour for you to use in a large area. However, red is a rich and wonderful colours that would emphasize a room's focal point. It is recommended to use red in fairly small dosage. You can try soft reds such as: pink, russet and terracotta have natural and autumnal ambiance which would complement greens, blues, whites and gold. This earthy combination has been used for centuries but it is still used today. A room decorated in soft and subtle reds seem timeless.

Colours can make or break a room. Choose wisely.