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!
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 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.”