Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

Chromophobia n. an abnormal fear of colours

Last night I was honoured to attend the launch party for the latest gem to hit the bookstores – Karen Haller’s The Little Book of Colour – How to use the Psychology of Colour to Transform your Life.  It’s about time that we all started to learn more about colour, and the effect that it has on our lives.

© Karen Haller

There is nowhere that colour doesn’t exist.  We are constantly influenced by it, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning to when we go to bed at night.  Although we see colour with our eyes, each different wavelength of coloured light stimulates a distinct part of our physical being, evoking a specific physiological response, which in turn produces a psychological reaction.

On top of that, we don’t just respond to specific, individual colours, but to all the colours present in our field of vision.  That is why it is important to achieve balance of colour within a scheme – cool and warm, contraction and expansion, sedation and stimulus, yin and yang.  A home without balance can appear wonderful but, for some reason that you can’t put your finger on, it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, and so does not support happiness and harmony.

But there is more to colour than merely hue (the attribute of colour which enables us to classify it as red, blue, etc).  Our colour personalities echo the patterns and natural order of the seasons, and so it is important to choose colours that match your own tonal family – spring, summer, autumn or winter.  Surrounding yourself with colours at odds with your own natural pattern is, in the long run, stressful.

I know that there has been a recent swing away from grey, and towards more colour in interiors, but often I find that clients don’t quite know what to do with colour.  They’re scared that they will get it wrong, chromophobia creeps in, and so they tend to avoid it all together and play it ‘safe’ with shades of grey or beige.

But these neutral colour schemes seldom bring us joy – that feeling of great pleasure and happiness!  And without joy, we may be surviving, but we are not thriving. If our surroundings lack energy and harmony, then no matter how beautiful our homes might be, they will not make us feel truly alive. The drive toward joy is synonymous with the drive for life.

It is vital that we understand our individual colour preferences to enable us to create homes with balance and harmony, and to design more happiness into our world.

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