Colours of life

We must be mindful of the impact that colour has on a child and the way it can affect them, both positively and negatively, depending on which colours we use and how we use them.

Colour is an energy vibration that is visible to the eye. Just like you wouldn’t play the same music day after day, you shouldn’t have the same colour palette in your lives all the time. The aim is to have balance and variety. See colour as a nutrient that feeds you visually and has a physiological and emotional effect. You would not just eat one category of food, or just one colour of food.

If your child’s room is a certain colour, bring changes by introducing new colours into pictures, rugs or duvet covers. Remember though, balance is the key because each colour represents different aspects of the personality, and you want to express all aspects. If your child wears a certain colour school uniform, for example, bring other colours into their out-of-school clothes. Bear in mind also that changing the colour of your child’s bed linen to a calm, relaxing colour can really change their quality of sleep, as well as being an inexpensive way to bring colour balance into a bedroom.

However, as with anything, you can have too much of a good thing and if you are over-exposed to a colour, it can have a negative effect. For example:

  • too much orange - overwhelming
  • too much red - over-stimulating and aggressive
  • too much blue – isolated and depressed
  • too much yellow – critical and fault-finding
  • too much purple –dogmatic

Personalities of colour

Red
This colour is associated with action and the need to experience life through the five physical senses. It rouses emotions and builds excitement but should be used only in small doses as it increases blood pressure, heartbeat and energy in most people. Its characteristics are determined, energetic, strong, pioneering, fiery and aggressive. It also instills feelings of intimacy and passion, as well as increasing the appetite, which explains why it is used so often in restaurants, and why it can be a good choice for a formal dining room.

Orange
The most flamboyant colour on the planet! It’s the colour most associated with fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth and organic products. It is also associated with ambition. There is nothing even remotely calm associated with this colour. It’s conversational, irrepressible, creative, extrovert, sociable, irrational, likes challenges, full of confidence, but can be overwhelming. Orange, like red, tends to warm a room, but in a more friendly and welcoming way. As a result, paints in various shades and tints of orange work well in living rooms and family rooms.

Yellow
cheerful yellow, the colour of the sun, is associated with laughter, happiness and good times. A person surrounded by yellow feels optimistic because the brain actually releases more serotonin (the feel-good chemical in the brain) when around this colour. But be careful with yellow because when intense it is the colour of flames, and studies show babies cry more in (bright) yellow rooms, and tempers flare more around that colour too. It has the power to speed up our metabolism and bring out some creative thoughts (legal tablets are yellow for good reason!). Yellow can be quickly overpowering if over-used, but used sparingly in just the right place, it can be an effective tool in marketing to achieve higher sales. Some shades of yellow are associated with cowardice; but the more golden shades bring with them the promise of better times. Yellow is warm and welcoming, but it is more attention-grabbing than either red or orange. For this reason, it is a good paint colour to use in poorly-lit foyers or dark hallways.

Green
The colour of growth, nature and money. It’s also a calming colour that’s very pleasing to the senses. Dark forest green is associated with terms like conservative, masculine and wealth. Hospitals use light green rooms because they are found to be calming to patients, and the colour is also often used in workplaces and schools. It is also the colour associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility. It is the traditional colour of peace, harmony, comfortable nurturing, support and well-paced energy. It’s a relaxing colour that is much more versatile than blue. Light greens are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms, whereas mid-tones are good for kitchens and dining rooms (many foods are green).

Blue
Ask people their favourite colour and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (sky and sea). Seeing the colour blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn’t true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send a cold and uncaring message. Many bedrooms are blue because it’s a calm, restful colour. Over the ages, blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many uniforms are blue). People tend to be more productive in a blue room because they are calm and focused on the task at hand. Some studies are showing that weight lifters can lift more weight in a blue gym - in fact, nearly all sports are enhanced in blue surroundings.

Purple
Many adults dislike purples, but are fond of the rose family, which can work in many rooms, including dining rooms, bedrooms and libraries. Young children, on the other hand, respond favourably to violet, so this colour can be used successfully in children’s bedrooms and play areas. What colour were the robes of kings and queens? It’s our most royal colour and is associated with wealth, prosperity, and rich sophistication. This colour stimulates the brain activity used in problem solving. However, when overused in a common setting, it is associated with putting on airs and being superficial. Use purple most carefully to lend an air of mystery, wisdom and respect.

Brown
Those who like this colour are generally those who like a safe, secure, simple and comfortable existence with supportive family and friends. This colour is most associated with reliability, stability and friendship. More are more people these days are likely to select this as their favourite colour. It is also associated with things being natural or organic.

Additional colours and key associations

Pink - tolerance, love, nurturing and femininity.

Turquoise - spontaneity, creativity, emotional balance, individuality, idealism, intuitiveness and peace.

White - simplicity, independence, self-reliance, gentleness, purity, cleanliness, innocence, youth and marriage.

Black – power, elegance, sophistication, discipline, power, wealth, mystery and fear.

Grey - emotional detachment, professionalism, intellect, structure and solid foundations.

Gold - spiritually wise, maturity, compassion, self gratification and being financially aware.

Silver - understated, modest and honest.

Ask people their favourite colour and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (sky and sea) so seeing the colour blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming.

By Mary Ashby-Green
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