We as humans spend just under 87% of our entire lives inside – that’s an incredibly long amount of time. The majority of our time may be spent cooking, cleaning, sleeping, or relaxing but since the turn of the century, the number of people that now work from home has drastically increased, diminishing the separation between our work-life and our home-life.
With this, you may begin to find it hard to feel motivated to work within your home – and that’s normal! Why should I get out of bed and move to my office when I could grab another hour of shut-eye?
And, if you’re anything like me, your best work will flow through you at night so your late-night schedule will be enticing you to stay in bed for as long as possible each morning.
Easier said than done, right? Don’t worry – I have a few tricks up my sleeve that help me get motivated every morning, and I am here to share with you what has been the most important motivator within my life. It may just surprise you…
COLOUR IS A POWERFUL DESIGN TOOL
No, I’m serious. Colour.
The human mind takes in over 10 million colours and processes them in an unbelievable number of ways. Although it’s well known that colour affects our mood, we still have such little data to objectively understand the human relationship with colour – in fact, quite the opposite.
Research suggests that while colour certainly affects our mood, this interaction is highly dependent on personal preference, upbringing, culture and, of course, context. Your brain may interpret the colour red as a symbol of passion, but to others it can evoke fear, love, or even aggression.
The great thing about this is, what could be a more personal experience than designing your new home?
In this article I will use the views and opinions of interior designers, as well as data from the study of Colour Psychology to provide a balanced understanding of how we can begin to utilise colours in our home, in order to trick our brains into making us even more creative and motivated.
I have found that, for me, the most useful way of using colours effectively in my life is by incorporating a strong presence of one colour within each room.
It might sound silly, but a colour may evoke any feeling from urgency to caution – and as long as you choose wisely, your freshly painted walls can begin to make a positive difference to your day.
So here it is: my cheat-sheet to making each room in your house help you become a more productive, motivated, and creative human being.
SCIENTIFIC COLOUR FACTS
Blue is the world’s favourite colour
According to YouGov blue is the world’s favourite colour with green, red and purple following closely behind, depending on the location.
Red was likely your first love
Babies are several weeks old before they can see their first primary colour – red. Within twelve weeks our eyes are developed enough to see the full spectrum of colours. – Bausch
Men and women really do see the world differently
Woman: “What colour would you call that?”
Man: “It’s red.”
Woman: “That’s not red, it’s wine…”
Hands up if you have heard that one before? Well as it turns out, men and women genuinely do see the world differently.
Scientists suggest that the gene that helps us see red sits on the X chromosome and, with women being the owners of two X chromosomes, they are better equipped to interpret subtle differences between the colour red.
Further studies have since shown that women tend to have a larger colour vocabulary, as well as a greater ability to detect subtle changes across the whole colour spectrum. Test your own colour perception skills here.
Colour influences our buying habits
From beverages to consumer electronics, marketers are using colours in innovative ways to build their brand’s personality (defined as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand”).
Numerous studies have shown that brand loyalists become attached to a brand’s visual identity and may even complain in response to a change of colour scheme – think Spotify.
If I were to take an utterly un-scientific approach to interpreting the above, could it be that we prioritise the brands we purchase from based on human characteristics that we align with? Then form an association with that brand based on its visual identity, much in the same way we put a face to a name? Food for thought, maybe.
Being different will get you noticed
This is known as The Isolation Effect and the research clearly shows that an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be recognised and recalled.
We still have a preference for analogous colours
Whilst the study above shows the value in contrast, numerous studies have shows that on the whole consumers prefer colour patterns with a similar hue. HelpScout suggest that crafting design with a visual structure consisting of base analogous colours and contrasting them with an accent colour could be a great means of drawing attention to a centre piece in your rooms.
Your bedroom is the beginning and end of your day. You go to bed at night ready to wind down, dream of your goals and temporarily say goodbye to your concerns. Almost instantaneously, in the spirit of a time traveller, you awaken ready to take on the day ahead. It possesses the most important decision of your daily routine: determining whether you get up and take on the world, or not.
With this in mind, I recommend giving your bedroom a BLUE colour scheme.
As you progress through the day your Melatonin levels – the hormone responsible for your sleep and wake cycles – will begin to increase. This has the effect of lowering your body temperature and heart rate to one that’s more optimal for sleep.
So how does that help us? When exposing subjects to different coloured lights for extended periods of time, a 2013 study discovered a significant decrease in both average body temperature and heart rate when exposed to blue lights in comparison to subjects exposed to red lights.
Since exposure to blue light has a similar effect on your body as a rise in melatonin, blue walls might just bring you a little closer to a perfect night’s sleep.
Popular culture has often had us view blue as the colour of masculinity, but moving beyond that we see blue as serene, calm and relaxing – think of the sky and the ocean.
Some consumer studies have even suggested that blue is a symbol of competence and quality and I believe we see this in business. PayPal, Facebook and Samsung are just a handful of brands that all make use of blue and often have access to extremely personal aspects of our lives.
We place our faith in their dependability and, in the same way, we seek our bedroom in solitude after a hard day’s graft!
Blue Bedroom Tips:
1. Pastel blue can often feel uncomfortable or distant.
2. Make use of light blue in combination with a warm hue as the accent colour for furniture and fabrics to give the feeling of tranquility.
3. A bold, high energy blue such as sapphire can be the perfect kickstart to your morning
4. Although you may not do much work in your bedroom, it is important to have this kick each morning in order to set the correct tone for your productive day ahead. This solid foundation is the key to success for many people across the world.
Your kitchen is the place you go for nourishment. It’s the place where your senses awaken and later return to be rejuvenated after a long day of expending energy. For many, the kitchen is the hub of health – just you and the most basic of physiological needs.
So what do you do when you wake up? You turn your coffee machine on, you start making some porridge, and you lean on your kitchen counter, flipping through the news of the day on your phone.
This routine is fine… for maybe five minutes. After that, you need to start utilising this glorious in-between period of not-quite-awake and not-quite-caffeinated. This whole workflow is on repeat day in, day out.
With this in mind, I recommend giving your bedroom a GREEN colour scheme.
Studies have shown that more green space is linked to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Further research has shown that children with attention deficits tend to perform better on cognitive tests after walking through parks – perfect if you have children that like to do homework at the table.
So why is it so important that your kitchen is a place of serenity?
If your kitchen is an enjoyable and calm place to be, meaning you want to do more home-cooking, you could actually live longer.
A Cambridge University study has shown that people who cook up to five times a week were 47% more likely to be alive after ten years. One reason could be that people who regularly cook for themselves are more in control of the types of food they eat and perhaps even more nutritionally informed.
Either way; Home cooking = good. Green kitchen = a tranquil space to enjoy said cooking.
Green is the colour of growth and, interestingly, The Ancient Egyptians would often colour their floors green to align with the green grass that would flourish by the River Nile.
We also tend to view green as a symbol of mother nature and, in colour therapy, green is often viewed as a strong symbol of tranquility. Land Rover, Jaguar, Tic Tac and Tropicana all make use of the colour green as a symbol of nature and freshness.
If we take it a little further, yellow is often said to be an energetic colour, with blue being its opposite. Some designers might suggest that with the mixture of the two producing shades of green, it the perfect balance for the start of your day – neither anxiety inducing nor worthy of a power nap. Green means ‘Go!’.
Green Kitchen Tips:
1. Green is suitable for almost any room in the house.
2. It’s warm enough to be inviting, promoting togetherness and comfort.
3. Celery green can look light and spacious in your kitchen.
4. Use more energetic greens such as lime to add hubs of energy to your room.
Your work day has started. You have your coffee, you’re sat in your office, you have at least five hours before you allow yourself to grab some lunch – but damn it! Inspiration isn’t striking this morning. You stare at the screen and nothing comes out.
Have you ever noticed that the best kind of background music is one that you don’t know the lyrics to? I tend to think the colour of your office should follow a similar pattern, interesting but not toxic.
With this in mind, I recommend giving your office a PURPLE colour scheme.
A University of Texas study found that bland colours such as grey or white in the office environment promoted feelings of sadness, especially in women.
To add to this, numerous studies have compared the results of red and blue on performance related cognitive tests. They discovered that red tends to aid focus on detailed tasks, where it was recorded as increasing memory retrieval by as much as 31% in comparison to the colour blue.
Blue, on the other hand, is said to aid creativity and ‘reinventing of the wheel’. Could this be because red is so commonly associated with failure or stop, resulting in an avoidance response? One things for sure, when we see red we pay extra attention.
Purple is the perfect balance here. Not only is it proven to be attractive to us, in fact we share more images on Pinterest with the focal colour being purple, red or pink than any other colour.
It’s the mixture of red and blue, crafting an office that’s built for the versatility of your daily working life.
Purple is viewed as the colour of sophistication as it’s rarely seen in nature. Not only has it been used since the time of the Ancient Egyptians into the present day as a symbol of royalty, it also has the strongest electromagnetic wave of any colour, being just a few up from x-rays and gamma rays, having a calming effect on your mind.
Brands such as Hallmark, Asprey London and Cadbury’s use purple as a symbol of luxury.
Does luxury necessarily equal success? Probably not, but when you’re in your office you want to feel as if you are on the way to success.
Purple Office Tips:
1. Use maybe one-or-two low-light lamps for illumination, your mind will settle into a creative mood.
2. A comfortable chair and a generous amount of natural light is especially important in this room.
3. Light colours of purple such as lavender can bring similar levels of creativity to your room as blue, but without being overly relaxing.
4. Dark, rich colours of purple can be used as an accent colour to compliment a neutral colour palette.
After the hard day’s work, you’ll no doubt want to retreat into your living room, settle down into your sofa, throw Netflix onto your TV, and spend a bit of time with your family for a while. The best part of the day! But, how can the colour of your room help or hinder entertainment in the hub of your home?
I recommend giving your living room a RED colour scheme to encourage lively conversation and intimacy.
We’ve already mentioned that red can increase your performance on intensive cognitive tasks. Similarly, red also has the effect of increasing the heart rate and adrenaline and reaction time. With the living room being the hub of entertainment, playing the PS4 and stimulating conversation worthy of a GoggleBox episode, red is a great shout.
Red has long been thought to stimulate appetite – think McDonalds and KFC. Of course when your appetite increases so to does your heart rate and attention. If we forget about our stomach for a second (which is far from easy), red is also the colour of passion. It’s hugely popular in the entertainment industry with brands such as Nintendo, Netflix and ESPN all using red to symbolise excitement.
Red Living Room Tips:
1. A touch of red can immediately warm up a room.
2. Full red feature walls can give the appearance of intimacy.
3. Use lots of natural light so that the room doesn’t appear confined.
4. After dark with lower light level, make use of illuminating lamps to accentuate the rich and elegant appearance of the red.
Eating dinner is the perfect time to start thinking productively again. At this point you might fall into one of three categories:
1. The mindful eater. This is the person that enjoys every bite, consciously chewing at least 15 times per mouthful.
2. The ever-present family. This person encourages conversation and enjoys food time as a means of enjoying family time.
3. The gadget consumer. This individual can be seen be grabbing their tablet, flipping through some cool blogs, feature articles, or watching some TED talks.
With this in mind, I recommend giving your dining room a BROWN colour scheme.
Research suggests that consumers heavily associate brown with ruggedness and nature. To add to this, we noted before that studies found users who spent time in green areas such as parks experienced lower levels of cortisol in the immediate aftermath.
Your dining room should be a versatile, enabling you to alter the mood depending on its occupant whilst maintaining the earthly feel that you have built with the green in your kitchen.
Brown is heavily associated with the earth and it’s rich soil – full of nutrition, it’s heavily responsible for support, anchorage and comfort. You’ll often see brown whole food products in the supermarket using brown for this very reason.
Brown Dining Room Tips:
1. Brown is a colour that oozes security, but can feel stark in large quantities.
2. Experiment with orange shades of brown as an accent to provide a warmer tone.
3. Mixing a cool blue with a deep brown can add to the earthly feeling of your dining room.
4. Soft browns such as beige can add warmth to the walls without absorbing the light in the same way a darker shade of brown might.
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Over to you…
Now it’s your turn. We want to hear what’s your favourite colour to decorate your home with and why… Tell us in the comments below!