Colour theory plays is a key part when it comes to design, our goal is to teach you how to design with intention using colour. Colour can play a huge rule to how our day will go. Each colour has association attached to it, which can cause us to feel a protocolar way. Did you know the colour of your wall or your wardrobe could affect your mood? We have broken down each colour with the feelings and meaning associated with it. It's important to remember the shade of the colour you use is extremely import it can change the vibe drastically. How do you know what shade is best for you? Hopefully after reading this blog you'll have a better understanding of each colour and what shade will work best for you.
Red: is well known for being colour for romantic and passion. Red is theorize to be associated with passion because it is a physical stimulant. Red has the ability to enhance our senses of smell & taste which makes us more sensitive to our environment. It has the ability to boost our heart rate, temperature & blood flow. These effects make us more likely to take action & boosts our energy levels. Red is typically used to draw attention to something, it motivates us and provokes an emotional response. When we see red in our daily lives we associated with confidence & luxury holding a stance of material success, we see red being used in logos & marketing for luxury brands.
What red represents & symbolizes: love, stability, life, security, grounding, romance, energy, passion, health, action, confidence, courage, and change.
Design tips: Red could be used in a room you want to raise energy levels. My favourite rooms to use red accents in are family room's & gym's. These are areas in our home that we want lively loving energy. I suggest bring red into your space throw art, textiles and mementos. When I think of red I think of the house I grow up in which had a red door and red kitchen.
Spanish Red CC-92 from Benjamin Moore reminds me of a costal villa. This colour has, coral & orange undertones, it's vibrant, warm, and playful. This shade is lively it would be prefect in a family or dining room, a space that you want to feel, cheerful, youthful and inviting.
Rustic Red SW 7593 from Sherwin Williams, this bold & rich hues make it feel romantic, and grounded. It would be perfect in a room you want to have intimate conversations & gatherings. It's sophisticated burgundy tones are great in a lounge/library setting.
Heartthrob SW 6866 from Sherwin Williams is dynamic it would be a good shade to use in a gym setting. You feel energized and motivated just looking at it! it's youthful and encouraging!
Orange: has similar very to red but orange has a more balanced energy. It is the colour of joy and creativity. Orange is a stimulant, it has the ability to give us emotional strength. It is optimistic and uplifting, it encourages spontaneity, positivity, creativity and communication.
Other means of orange, joy, warmth, heat, sunshine, enthusiasm, creativity, success, encouragement, change, determination, health, flamboyance, determination, stimulation, happiness, fun, enjoyment, balance, freedom, expression, and fascination.
Design tips: Orange is an uplifting colour and should be used in a room you want to feel bright and lively. How to incorporate orange into your designs using the different shades. The colour orange is very flexible it is almost like a chameleon, it can be youthful, playful, warm and inviting, bold romantic all at the same time.
Sunset Boulevard 082 from Benjamin Moore is the perfect shade to use in a living room or a home bar area, it's joyful and inviting. It's vibrant, it would be perfect for a space you entertain in. Bring this shade into your space will add to an upbeat and playful environment, you can be creative and bold when adding this shade into your space! It can also be used in a intimate setting using it in a romantic way, this shade offers a lot of flexibility.
Orange Sherbet 122 from Benjamin Moore is light bring and calm, this shade can work in any space it has a warmth to it. I would use this shade in a bedroom or in a space I want to feel up lifting and joyful.
Obstinate Orange SW 6884 from Sherwin Williams is bold, warm, and inviting. This shade would work well in a dining room it can be use in a romantic way, this shade would be perfect for an intimate space. I Obstinate Orange would be a good accent colour in a cozy space.
Yellow: is associated with happiness colours and having the same effects as the sun. It's known as being one of the noblest colours representing religious figures and royals. Yellow has a wide range of means in many different cultures, representing wealth, good fortune, courage, wisdom, happiness and also mourning. Yellow can make us feel happy, joyful and energized, it brings in fresh energy into it's environment, having a playful child like effect on us. Studies have shown being over exposed to yellow can trigger anxiety, stress and a critical mind. This isn't to say don't use it, just be mind full of where you use the colour, what shade and the quantity, keep reading to find out how to mindfully use yellow.
Yellow symbolizes happiness, joy, youthful, creativity, courage, optimism, wealth, cheerfulness, hope, good fortune, faith, fun, friendliness, and enlightenment.
How to design using yellow: bring yellow into your space through decor is a very good idea, yellow is a very vibrant colour and can be distracting. If you have a focal point in your space like a fireplace placing a painting with yellow hues in it on the mantle will bring your focus to where you want it. Yellow is an inviting and cheerful colour, I like seeing it in a space you entertain or even an entryway, this will make guess feel welcome. Creative ways to bring yellow into your space, placing coffee table books with yellow on the cover or your coffee table or on a shelf. Painting and art is a great way to bring yellow into your space. If there is a yellow wall paper design you love but you think it will be too overwhelming for the space, buy a sheet and frame it as art, this will also be cost effective.
Using a shade like Morning Sunshine 2018-50 from Benjamin Moore will bring a calming peaceful and brightness to the space it's in, This would be a great shade to use in a bedroom or entry way.
Gambol Gold SW 6690 from Sherwin Williams feels inviting it had an earthiness to it, this shade can really go in any room in my opinion, it can be used in a moody space or in a brighter space adding depth and grounding the space.
Cheerful SW 6903 from Sherwin Williams is bright, bold and cheerful shade, this would be a great accent colour to use in a living room or playroom.
Green: is the most calming colour, making you feel the most relaxed. It can evoke feelings of security & making you feel refreshed. Green symbolizes nature, it can be restful and lively.
Green can also represent tranquility, life, calming, energy, peace, encouragement, relaxation, growth, encouragement, freshness, health, balance & harmony.
How to design with Green: using plants is a great way to make your space feel fresh and lively. My favourite rooms I like using accents of green in are office's, main living space, bathroom and gym/yoga meditation room. There's are rooms you want to create a peaceful balanced environment. How to incorporate green into your space throw decor, photograph & art, accent pillows & throw blankets, books, rugs, accent chair, painting your walls green or wall paper.
If you want to create a calming, peaceful space use a restful, quiet shades like Sage Tint 458 from Benjamin Moore or Pine Frost SW 9656 from Sherwin Williams.
If you're looking to refreshen up your space to create balance and harmony a quiet shade like Fresh Dew 435 from Benjamin Moore or Romaine SW 6730 from Sherwin Williams.
Find a shade that is similar to Seedling AF-450 & Herb Garden 434 from Benjamin Moore these shades inhabits a lively energy.
Turquoise: is a mix between green and blue, it holds the tranquility of blue and the growth of green, it has the ability to promote clarity for a restful mind and relaxation. The colour turquoise has been known for being used to help promote the feeling of empathy. It's also been said that the colour turquoise has the ability to stabilize mood swings and instilling inner peace, calmness and healing.
Turquoise can represent: calmness, wisdom, tranquility, protection, balance, growth, stability, peace, joy, good fortune, and hope.
How to design using Turquoise: since turquoise is such a tranquil colour it can really go in any space. When I think of turquoise I think of the ocean, we typical see this colour in spas, hotels and places we typically go to relax. That being said it would be a great accent colour in a bedroom, bathroom, home spa, entry way and living space. I think you can really have fun and be creative when adding turquoise to your space, we have all seen how trendy it is to have a bold marble slabs to make a statement in kitchens, bathrooms and bars, I would look to see natural stone with some turquoise hues in it. If this is little too far out of your comfort zone why not use textiles? bedding, drapery and throw pillows. I'm a sucker for pottery and ceramics it's also a safe bet bring colour into your space though pots. Art and photography is also a safe and classic way to enhance a peaceful environment.
Turquoise Powder 2o57-50 from Benjamin Moore is bright cheerful and calming seeing this shade puts me right into a vacation mindset, I'm ready it kick back relax and have a good time. I think this shade would be a great accent colour for a space you like to entertain it's upbeat and welcoming it can be used in indoor or outdoor spaces.
San Jose Blue 741 from Benjamin Moore is a bit of a darker shade that would be great to use in a bright space used for entertaining. Bring this shade into your space will enhance a buoyant mood you're trying to create.
Swimming SW 6764 & Tame Teal SW 6757 from Sherwin Williams are great shades to use in entryways, bedrooms, bathrooms and home spa. Lighter turquoise shades are very tranquil and calming perfect for a space you want to unwind and relax.
Blue: is known for being relaxing it has the ability to produce chemicals that are calming giving us a tranquil feeling. Light shades of blue have the ability to lower our heart rates, blood pressure and body temperature and even affect our sleep patterns. Blue is widely known for being the colour of loyalty and trust, but it has a lot of other meanings that correlate to each shade of blue. It's really important to understand the meaning and affect the shade you chose for your space since it can have a huge impact on your mood or the feeling or your space.
Light blues symbolizes: relaxation, calm, peace, tranquility, truth worthiness, trust, responsibility, imagination, reliable, freedom, inviting, youthful, dreamy, wisdom, intuition, serenity, sadness.
Bright blues symbolizes: energizing, refreshing, dependable, communication, truth worthiness, freedom, imagination, inspiration, sensitivity, intuition, trust, confidence, depth, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith and intelligence.
Dark blue symbolizes: strength, knowledge, authority, reliability, importance, power, integrity, stability, conservative, seriousness and confidence.
How to design using blue? I will break it down into shades to make it easier to understand the impact each shade has in its space.
Light blue has a lot of meanings associated to it, but my favourite has to be that light blue is believed to ward off evil spirits according to southern beliefs. It's very common to see blue painted front porch ceilings as well as blue doors and window trim in southern states. Living in Toronto I have never seen this but I do think it's super charming! Since light blue is known to enhance the feeling of calm and tranquility it should be used in a space you want to feel relaxing and welcoming, entry way, living room, bathroom, bedroom, spa or a study. Constellation AF-540 from Benjamin Moore is light airy and fresh, it has a calmness to it, this shade would complement both warm and cool tones. The shade of blue can work in any space, it's not too pigmented so it would be overwhelming on your walls. It will make your space feel bright, fresh and inviting.
Bright blue can be vibrant and can make a statement but it can also be used to balance and harmonize a space. Flyway SW 6794 from Sherwin Williams is bright and vibrant that can make your space feel fresh and relaxing but it can also make your space feel cold if you don't style it properly. I would incorporate bright blue into a space you like to entertain in since it has evokes a lively feeling.
Dark blue is the most popular blue shade in interiors because it gives off a moody feeling but it feels safer than using black. Dark blue is classic and elegant in any shade it may come in, it's dramatic and a neutral all at the same time. Naval SW 6244 from Sherwin Williams is a classic navy blue shade it has a green under tone which makes more earthy, meaning you can use it as a neutral. This shade would be beautiful in a study or dining room. The shade feels bold, elegant and classic.
Indigo: is a blend of blue and purple it is the colour of human rights. Indigo has the ability to help us tap into our perception, intuition and is known to open up our third eye chakra. As a result we are more mindful, excepting and encourages us to seek the respect we deserve. Which is way it's the colour that represents human rights. When in the precise of indigo it is said that you can have more overwhelming and exaggerate feelings. It's known for being the most dramatic colour, this is something to keep in mind when bring indigo into your space.
Indigo can also symbolize: power, charm, insight, responsibility, intelligence, intuition, encouragement, mystery, helpful, empathic, balance, and imagination.
How to design using Indigo? Indigo can make a space feel mysterious and bold it can be used to enhance a moody vibe or to bring balance and harmony into a space. Starry Night Blue 2067-20 from Benjamin Moore can be used in a similar why to a navy blue. If you are going to paint your walls indigo pick a space with lots of natural light. I would use this shade in a intimate, sophisticated and moody space.
Purple: is associated with royalty. Back in the 1850's purple dye was the same price as gold! That's why it holds the status of royal colour, since only royals & high class families could afford it. Did you have a purple bedroom growing up? I did I loved my purple room it was playful and peaceful.
Purple can also symbolize: royalty, nobility, peace, power, creativity, wisdom, pride, bravery, luxury, spirituality, magic & mystery.
How to design with Purple: Purple can make a space feel very luxurious & sophisticated. Purple sparks creativity, it's playful and whimsical I love seeing purple in office, playroom, library and bathroom. Ways to incorporate purple into your space, is throw art plantings, pottery & sculpture like blown glass, throw pillows, crystals, retro antiques just to name a few. What shades to use to enhance the mood you are going for.
To create a luxurious experience a bold and rich tone is the way to go, Shadow 2117-30 from Benjamin Moore or Dewberry SW 6552 from Sherwin Williams are bold & mysterious. These shade will make your space feel sophisticated, I would use this shade in a moody space.
To spark creativity use a shade like Purple Heart 1406 from Benjamin Moore, or Forget-Me-Not SW 6824 from Sherwin Williams. These shades are what comes to mind when I heard purple. I would use these shades in a space you want to make a statement, it has some warm undertones, that makes it feel inviting and playful.
For a peaceful whimsical feel use a shade like After the Rain 1452 from Benjamin Moore or Potentially Purple SW 6821 from Sherwin Williams. These shades are soft and cozy, they can be used in any space.
Pink: is known as the colour of love and compassion, pink takes all the passion, romance, and energy from red but is balanced by white's purity. Pink has the ability to be a mood stabilizer reducing aggression and anger, light pink is known as being soothing. Dark pinks can have the same effects as red heightening emotions.
Pink can also symbolize: love, romance, innocents, youthful, sweetness, good health, playfulness, cheerful and kindness.
How to design using pink? pink is known for being a calming colour, it's playful and romance. Pink can be used in multiple ways using it's different shades enhance the feeling you're trying to create.
Mellow Pink 2094-70 from Benjamin Moore is a light bright and calming colour, this shade would work well in a bedroom, living room and bathroom. It's soft and inviting, it will pair well with both cool and warm tones.
Easter Pink 2076-50 from Benjamin Moore is vibrant and playful this would work well in a room you entertain in. This is the perfect shade to add some drama into your space, is fun and upbeat vibe will make you feel enthusiastic, be careful not to go overboard with this shade it can be dominate.
Hot Lips 2077- 30 Benjamin Moore is bold cheerful and playful it would be a good accent colour in a room you entertain in. Similar vibe to Eater Pink this shade is vibrant can will make a statement.
Brown: is know for being the most wholesome colour it's said to be the colour of healing. It's also associated with being boring or dull, but we all know this not to be true, in 2022 brown is having it's much deserved moment. It's a rich neutral earth tone that can grounds it's surroundings and makes you feel safe and cozy.
Brown can also symbolize: strength, reliability, security, safety, dependability, warmth, comfort, simplicity, protection and grounding.
How to design using brown? Brown is a soft and warm neutral it can really go with any other colour, it can be both warm and cold toned. From dark rich espresso brown to soft beiges, tans and creams there is always a shade that will ground and elevate your space. One of my favourite ways to use brown when designing is to layer it in through furniture and textiles brown is a neutral that lets texture speak and the other elements in the space be the star.
Hillsborough Beige 1033 from Benjamin Moore is soft and cozy, it leans more towards the warm tones. This shade isn't over whelming it can be use as a good base for any space, acting like a blank canvas.
Mocha Cream cc-458 from Benjamin Moore is a soft and airy shade it has cool undertones which will make your space feel fresh and inviting. This shade can work in any space, if you have a smaller room that doesn't get a lot of natural light this shade will make it feel bright and airy. If you are someone tends to like cools tones this is a great base colour for you it will make your space feel warm and inviting.
Brown Sugar 2112-20 from Benjamin Moore is a toasty rich brown if you're looking for a moody shade that still feels welcoming this shade is for you. This is a good shade for a large room with an abundance of natural like that feels cold. It has a soft red undertone that will ground your space making it feel cozy. It has a burgundy hues that will make your space feel elegant and sexy.
Deep Forest Brown SW 9175 from Sherwin Williams is a bold dark brown that adds depth and sophistication to it's surroundings. It has a purple undertone that makes it feel mysterious. If you're looking for a moody shade that will ground your space look no further. This is a great shade to use in dining room, it will make the space feel cozy and not too cold.
White: is known as the colour of purity, peace, innocence and cleanliness in western culture, in eastern culture it is known as the colour of mourning. White has the ability to make you feel open minded, hopeful, it brings clarity and refreshing our minds. White is the colour of balance and harmony, white is a designers best friend!
White can also symbolize: purity, peacefulness, bright, innocence, cleanliness, empty, mourning, sadness, lightness, hope, clarity, new beginnings, simplicity, boring, balance, freshness, perfection, and cold.
How to design using white? White can be used in any space, hallway, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dinning and living room. Designers love using white because it can really transform a space it acts as a canvas allowing us to tell a story. When using white you have to be careful because it can make a space feel sterile cold and boring. Think of white as a tool, how do you want your space to feel? White can be both warm and cold the key is finding the perfect shade for your space. White can add balance and bring you peace of mind if you use it correctly. Leaving white space similar to painting can elevate the story your are telling. One thing is see being does is we paint our rooms white and then it feels cold so we start layering things in and it can then feel cluttered. Let's get into it!
Swiss Coffee OC-45 from Benjamin Moore is a soft shade that has the perfect amount of warmth. You have probably seen this shade in a few of Studio McGee projects, it's bright warm and inviting it complaints both warm and cool tones. It's the perfect shade for large spaces with looks of natural light because of it's warm hues, it will ground the space making it feel cozy rather than cold. Remember to add texture and layers into your space, white acts as a canvas.
Simply White OC-117 is a classic shade of white it bring a freshness calmness to it's surrounding. It has the slightest warm hue that keeps the shade from feeling cold. This shade is a designer favourite because it pairs well with both cool and warm tones.
White OC-151 from Benjamin Moore is timeless crisp white that hues of cool tones. This shade works like a canvas allowing the focal point to be the rest of the elements in the space. How to use this shade, cool tones are good from spaces that feel dark, a shade like this will make your space feel bright and airy.
Grey: is a mix between to dominate colours white and black, grey is well known for being the colour of balance and neutrality. Grey has the ability to reduce energy from other colour which is way we find grey to be calming and relaxing. Grey is soothing and can make us more willing to obey, but it also has the ability to dampen our mood make use feel isolated, alienated and depressed. When bring grey into your space it's all about finding balance.
Grey can symbolize: wisdom, control, stability, calm, seriousness, balance, isolated, lonely, neutrality, relaxation, soothing, boredom, reliable, practical, tranquil, intelligence and sophistication.
How to design using grey? Grey is actually a great base colour if you pick the right shade for your space. Some designers will use grey as a substitute for white since it can have similar effects as white but can be more forgiving and less scary for clients. Builder tend to paint new builds white to give new home owners a fresh canvas to work off of, this can also cause them to lose buyers when an all white room isn't stage because the room can feel cold and most people have a hard time visualizing a space. When walls are painted in a light grey off white the space feels bright, airy and calming, it's less daunting. Let's talking about grey flooring! Natural slate and limestone flooring pull at my heart strings, this is a great way to add character and texture to your space, with out stealing the limelight. Wood or vinyl flooring with grey undertones can date your newly renovated space, I'm not saying all flooring with grey hues will date your space but because it is trendy I'm not sure it will stand the test of time.
Icicle OC-60 from Benjamin Moore is the colour I painted my bedroom, it's a soft creamy grey with a green undertone. It makes my space feel cozy and light, because I have a large room with tall ceilings and not a lot of natural light this shade was a no brainer. I tend to light cool and earth tones which this shade of grey has cool earthy hues in it, it's a great natural base.
Classic Grey OC-23 from Benjamin Moore is a classic soft grey that is the perfect neutral for any space. This shade will make your room feel bright and relaxing. This shade will act similar to white, giving you a blank canvas. This is a good shade to use if you have a space that doesn't get a lot of natural light.
Agreeable Grey SW 7029 from Sherwin Williams is warm and earthy, it has brown and warm tones that make it feel calm and cozy. This shade would work well in a large room with lots of natural light it was make your space feel more intimate and inviting. If you want to add colour to your space this is a good natural base, it will pair well with both cool and warm tones.
Cheating Heart 1617 from Benjamin Moore is a timeless charcoal grey shade that will add a moody depth to your space. It has blue undertones making it feel fresh and crisp. This is a good shade to add drama to your space. I recommend using this shade I a space that gets lots of natural light. Cheating Heart will complement both warm and cool tones.
Black: is a classic colour we all have that go to black outfit in our closest that make us feel more confident. Why do we feel more comfortable in black? Because it evokes the feeling of power, authority, luxury and elegance and it's a sliming colour. We associate the colour black with professionalism, sophistication, neutrality and simplicity. It's bold and evokes mystery, we tend to see the colour being used in negative ways. Black is widely known to be the colour of mourning. What affect does the colour black have on us when it's in our space? Black absorbs all light making it a low energy colour which mean that on it's own it can make use feel depressed, gloomy or sad but it can also boosts feelings of confidence in appearance. When bringing black into your space remember the balance of the yin and the yang, people theorize that black can enhance its surroundings bring out the best of the worst of what it's around.
Black can also symbolize: Elegance, power, sophistication, status, professionalism, formality, mystery, confidence, grief, mourning, evil, rebellion, heaviness, depression, sadness and fear.
How to design using black? Moody spaces seem to be a tread that's here to stay. I think it's because they can be elegant, sophisticated, sexy and mysterious, these are all things we desire. Black kitchens, home offices, dinning rooms, bathrooms, restaurants are as popular now as they were. Adding black to your space creates drama, when used properly black can bring harmony to your space. When I think of a moody space the first thing that comes to mind is a whiskey lounge, weathered leather chairs, moody hued walls, candle light, a fireplace and warm layers of throw blankets, it feels cozy, sophisticated and sexy. The prefect play to curl up and read a book on a crisp fall night. There are really brilliant ways to bring black into your space, my favourite way is through stone and iron. Soap stone counter top, tile floors or even a fireplace mantle, this is a great way to add drama and character into your space. Rod iron stair case, antique iron fireplace, light fixtures and furniture. Another way to add black into your space is through fixtures and hardware this is a popular trend right now. Remember when you use black it's going to be the focal point in the space, so use black to draw attention to the things you want the most emphasis on. When painting a room a moody black hue make sure it has a lot of natural light. Black will make your space feel smaller then it really is so it you have a large room with an abandons of natural light painting it black will make it feel smaller. Once you layer in other neutrals and natural materials you can create a really cozy, welcoming and elegant space, restoration hardware vibes!
Jet Black 2120-10 from Benjamin Moore is a classic black shade, it's bold and elegant it looks good in a matte or glossy finish. It's a good neutral that will complement both warm and cool tones.
Inkwell SW 6992 from Sherwin Williams is a cold toned black it will bring cool tones from things in it's surrounding environment, this is something to keep in mind well picking the perfect black for your space.
Black Beauty 2128-10 from Benjamin Moore is bold and mysterious but has a warmth to it. This shade will enhance the warm tones in it's space. This is a good shade if you want to create a cozy and sophisticated space.
I hope this blog helps you find the right colours for your space, I hope by reading this you feel inspired to use colour when designing! I could go on and on talking about colour, so if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out! I encourage you to share this blog with anyone you know that may be considering a renovation or loves design. Thanks for reading!