When choosing lampshades, cushions, furniture, or  re-decorating rooms, often we choose colours that ‘feel right’ without ever realising why.

Colour has a powerful impact on our moods and our emotional wellbeing. This psychological effect may possibly stem from the time when man could first understand what colour actually meant (for example, clear blue skies indicated tranquillity in the weather, the orange and red of fire signified danger). Put simply, colour has, and always will be, nature’s way for us to assess our immediate environment.

When it comes to preferring colours for our own interiors, our choices are often a result of these primitive responses or even deep rooted childhood memories.

So what are the psychological effects of different colours?

Green has a calming, restful and protective effect. It is the colour of nature and promotes harmony. As it can steady the nerves, it is a good choice for areas where high stress levels may occur (e.g. the office or medical waiting rooms). However, combine green with a high proportion of yellow, and a feeling of nausea can be induced, hence this form of green should be avoided where calming influences are required.

Blue encourages tranquillity, reflective moods and intellectual studying. It can also feel authoritative. It has the ability to create a feeling of space although it can appear chilly if used in North facing rooms.

Red indicates danger, but also encourages lively social interaction and excitement. It can flatter the skin and stimulate the appetite and thus is often a colour used in restaurants. In some people it can create an aggressive mood and because it can also be stimulative, it is best avoided in young children’s bedrooms.

Yellow is associated with sunshine and warmth and can lighten up the darkest of areas bringing with it a sense of radiance and contentment. It is a favourite in many UK interiors as it is often used to counteract our Northern light. It suggests energy, optimism and stimulates inspired thought.

Purple is a regal colour that promotes a serene, soothing and dignified environment, particularly when paler shades are used. It can evoke feelings of opulence and reverence although if darker tones are used in larger quantities, it can tire the eye and induce  uneasiness. Patel tints can be romantic.

Orange can encourage feelings of fun, assertiveness, warmth and security. However, it can be overwhelming when used in abundance, and can create a sense of frustration, or give the impression of immaturity.

Pink is a tranquil colour particularly when pastel forms are used. It is associated with all things feminine and induces feelings of peace. Strong pinks can be seen to be frivolous and fun.

Black is the colour of drama and sophistication. It can be used effectively in the interior provided it is not the main hue as it may generate feelings of angst and depression.

White gives the impression of cleanliness and freshness. It creates a spacious and airy environment even in the smallest room.  If used as the main hue it can cause an interior to look rather sterile, so to counteract this, one should introduce different textures and accent colours.

In practice however, interior schemes will usually consist of more than one colour, or different tones of the hue, resulting in a dilution, exaggeration or combination of the effects described.

So next time you are thinking about a spot of re-decorating, take time to think about why you are drawn to a particular colour, and consider whether its psychological effects will benefit you and your scheme.