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Kevin Kelly Interiors Design Blog

Get inspired by hues of the season - Colour Psychology

Get inspired by hues of the season - Colour Psychology

Having grown up working within the family business which is interiors, playing and combining colours to great effect is a real joy of the job. Working with a client to produce a scheme and deciphering the missing colours that will enhance a palette or in reverse what colours aren’t working in the current room is where the communication and creative passion really bubbles from both sides. Whilst some of my clients have real colour confidence and a grasp of the colour scheme and style they like, I frequently chat to friends and clients suffering either an overload of colour options or a ‘writer's block’ to the colours they like. Like with all things, if you are using specific parts of your brain and looking at something similar all day, you’re going to become the expert. So colour is one of my areas of expertise and physics, VAT, algebra, baking (…I could go on) are not my areas!


Sunday Business Post


Colour - from the ubiquitous white tones made famous by Farrow & Ball to the murky shades popularised by the trendy Abigail Ahern – can and will make a huge impact to a room’s mood and sense of space and light. Once you step out of the safe zone of pale colours, the colour chart will start spinning and you need to own your sense of colour psychology first in order to make decisive choices. Be clear about what colours touch you on a deeper level and make you happy, relaxed, impressed etc and then you will love your home. I’m not going to tell someone looking to update their kitchen to go for a huge oak kitchen table with bright green chairs and floor-to-ceiling charcoal painted kitchen units and gold faucets just because the mix of deep grey with zesty green and gold is sophisticated, rich and vibrant to me, personally. Analysing our own colour psychology takes time but is worth the investment because if you can study your emotional cues to a variety of hues and patterns and start to build palettes that inspire you, you’ll soon find it fairly instinctive when you see a coloured paint or fabric or piece of furniture, whether you’ll want to build it into your home.


Taking colour psychology to a deeper level worth pursuing I believe, is a theory set out by celebrity Interior stylist, Sophie Robinson, whose master class with brand expert, Fiona Humberstone I recently attended. Their theory is that we fall into four personalities that are represented in the four seasons. The idea is each person should choose the season that best captures their personality and from there they can create a cohesive scheme.


Spring Personalities Spring is a season of optimism and energy. Following a long winter, there is a sense of fresh inspiration. Think of what denotes a typical spring day including new bulbs, fresh colours, blue skies and days that put a ‘spring’ in your step. Spring personalities would thus be characterised as enthusiastic and lively, and love to get things done. As Humberstone says, “Spring personalities multi-task well and love working with people and bouncing ideas around. They are sociable, love to entertain and can be a real inspiration to those around them.” Interiors wise, a spring personality loves plenty of natural light, gentle contrasts and colours from the vibrancy of the spring bulbs and green shoots to the pastels of spring blossoms. Clean lines and Scandinavian style furniture will be popular and spring personalities love to add a punch of colour and prints and patterns add playfulness and style. Casadeco fabrics would slot perfectly into a spring interior, as would Scion by Harlequin.


Spring scheme

Spring scheme by Scion




Spring scheme by Scion

Spring scheme by Scion

Summer personalities Summer personalities are more formal, elegant and calmer than spring personalities. Think of hot days and a mellow, relaxing mood and the bleaching of bright spring colours into delicate, hazy hues. Spring flowers have moved on to soft roses and peonies. Summer personalities love a bit of luxury and high quality, and elegance replaces the trendiness of spring personalities. They love softer more muted colours with a touch of grey. They love traditional designs and a look that is both balanced and romantic. Nina Campbell, Sanderson and Jane Churchill’s traditional line would be good examples of summer interiors. Another example would be the shabby chic look - romantic but well thought out. They love watercolours, faded prints and soft vintage styling.




Summer scheme by Sanderson


Autumn personality Immediately when you think of an autumn personality, rustic and earthy tones come to mind from forest greens to terracotta. The season is full of rich beautiful colours. Autumn personalities are all about creating a relaxed atmosphere, which can be a sophisticated or casual scheme but the overall look is tactile, comforting and interesting. Autumn personalities have a no fuss approach to interiors but love to know the history and the integrity of the room. They are more sentimental, loving to collect things, so too is illustrating through their interiors, the importance of family and friends and their personal achievements. Nostalgia, ethnicity, substance and eccentricity are all traits of the autumnal personality. The results can be dynamic and stunning when harnessed by a homeowner with a good grasp of their colour psychology! Zoffany fabrics would be a great example of autumnal interiors.


Autumn scheme by Lewis and Wood





Autumn scheme by Mulberry



Winter personality Surprisingly to some, winter personalities are the most popular season with Interior designers and the reason: winter is a season of extremes. One day the skies are piercing blue, the next it’s grey, followed closely by crispiness of frost. A good example of Robinson’s is ‘stark landscapes with just a pop of red of a Robin red breast’. Winter personalities are all about the drama with sleekness, opulence and glamour. They are stylish and will make a big impression. Worlds Away and Daniel Hopwood are both good examples of winter designers.

Winter scheme by Larsen


Winter scheme by Worlds Away



Whilst there are only four categories, it’s such a good place to start and will really help you build your own colour wheel and a sense of your own colour psychology especially if you haven’t thought about it (and have been guided by outside images). For me I actually started thinking about my own colour psychology in terms of my website and brand identity and have been really energised about how what a powerful communication tool colour is. As Fiona Humberstone helpfully explains, “Colour works on a subconscious level, faster than words or images and creates a gut response.”

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How to discover your interior style in the Sunday Business Post May '17

How to discover your interior style in the Sunday Business Post May '17

A home style worthy of any homes interior glossy is practically the standard remit of every progressive, dynamic Irish person. Its not enough to whip up an egg white omelette with Donegal cheese and Connemara kale, drop your kids off dressed head to toe in cool labels from Dublin 4 boutiques, run a Hell and Back and then go to work. We also all want an awesome pad that we and our partner and kids are proud to show off, but equally a home that ensures all its inhabitants will unwind from their own anxiety and work ridden days.


In our search to improve and ultimately create a ‘perfect’ home for ourselves, we scroll through the feeds of Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz and 600,00 of us tune into RTE’s Room to Improve on Sunday nights. The feedback we receive from our clients is, totally understandably, that you are overwhelmed by choice and have lost a sense of what your own style is.


We run a lot of consultations to help decipher what our client’s styles are and how to best execute it in their home. Often clients come in loaded with printed Pinterest images, many of them of wildly different interiors; go through our fabric library chasing different colour schemes and moods, only to go for something completely different, which is undoubtedly their core sense of style.


I always have my radar on when I’m looking at Pinterest to recognise when the interior is completely incomparable to the clients or where the photography has falsely played with the reality of the room. So how then does one discover their interior style?


One way I read a client's style is by looking at what they are wearing. This isn’t 100% the case, but is more often than not extremely telling and I would definitely recommend to someone who is confused about their interiors style to analyse their wardrobe. How do you dress when you want to look great? Do your special clothes lean towards a conservative cut (safe but expensive looking) or do you go for an awesome design before the fit. If you like wearing cool trainers you’re probably lean towards industrial chic materials; Tory Burch pumps I’d go with textured fabrics in a neutral palette but with a twist – nothing overly traditional.


Study your wardrobe objectively and think about why you love certain clothes and ultimately how you want to feel at your best. If those pieces are predominantly sophisticated yet modest then this is how you probably envision your home. To the extent of how comfortable you are bringing in patterns, bold colours etc into your fashion, this may well be reflected in your ‘perfect’ decor. Look at the colours and fabrics of your favourite pieces too and what mood they create in you, which again may well cross over into your interiors.


Another way to depict your style is to revisit the accessories, homewares and other items in your own home. You may have picked up pieces over the years but not realised why you are drawn to them. This is a good opportunity to do some editing and styling by riding off dust collectors and reworking uncluttered spaces with a fresh eye. Taking away all the accessories will create a clean canvas and help you to recognise which pieces are making the room and what might be missing to enliven the scheme.


Another source of inspiration for you to look at is your travels as these environments that you love say a lot about the mood you can transfer to your own home. Do you love a very slick city appeal or prefer coastal chic ambience? Think about the colours that you associate with that place and how they make your feel – crystal clear blue waters, hot pink Indian colours or do you prefer the softness of Provence?


At the end of a consultation, I pull some of the fabrics they are leaning towards as a starting point to teaching them how to build a mood board. A mood board can include pictures of furniture, images you’re drawn to, pieces of fashion, patterns etc. When you step back from the board/s you’ll notice a style emerging and hopefully an interesting colour scheme with certain similar patterns coming together.

Don’t be overwhelmed if you think you like a myriad of interiors looks that you worry can’t be married as we will find a common vein running through and help you to choose the best of each style and mix and match it with other styles. The thread running through might be a core colour palette and a defined mood, which we will bring out so that ultimately you have an even flow throughout the house. It is essential to remember that the most interesting homes embrace uniqueness and personality.

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