10 Dec 2014


by Ciarda Barrett (Course Director)

We recently had a very interesting chat online about colour and its effects on our mood and the room that we are in. Here are some notes that I have used over the years and would still refer to on occasion when contemplating what the best use of colour in a specific setting would be.

Monochromatic Colour Scheme

  • This colour scheme is based on one colour only - you can use different variations of this colour i.e. light and dark tonal values.
  • Be careful it doesn't become too boring.
  • Use texture and form to create interest.
  • Used in contemporary, minimalist designs.
  • You can use neutral colours such as beiges, creams and browns and/or black and white.

Harmonious ( Analogous) Colour Scheme

  • Based on two colours next to each other on the colour wheel.
  • Usually a calming and soothing scheme because there is not a lot of variation between the two colours used

Triadic Colour Scheme

  • Created by using three colours on the colour wheel equal distance from each other.
  • Fun and lively.
  • Whites and creams used as backgrounds and to soften effects of scheme.
  • Can become stressful and irritating if overdone.
  • Suitable for playschools, children's rooms etc.

Complimentary Colour Scheme

  • These schemes are used by combing two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel.
  • They are opposite in temperature i.e. one warm and one cool.
  • They can bring balance to each other.

Basic Colour Psychology


  • Most powerful colour in the spectrum.
  • Can attract and repel.
  • Very symbolic - leaders traditionally wore red, red carpet etc.
  • Symbolic of power.
  • Colour of fire / passion (brothels etc).
  • Has been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Very vibrant.
  • Can be used in building where you want to increase physical activity.
  • Can stimulate appetite.
  • Not used in doctors/dentists surgeries/butchers etc as the colour of blood.
  • Makes a room seem warm.
  • Should be avoided in hyperactive children and violent adults.
  • Not a good choice for bedrooms as this is a place of relaxation.


  • Warm, vibrant and energetic colour.
  • Thought to raise tolerance and strengthen will.
  • Cheerful colour.
  • Can be used around children or any place that needs cheering up.
  • Thought to increase creativity and appetite.
  • Not suitable to use in places of relaxation.
  • Shouldn't be used for areas where people that suffer from addictions congregate.
  • Can invoke irritability and hyperactivity in children.


  • Cheerful, warm and welcoming colour.
  • Children's playrooms & areas that creativity is required.
  • Kitchens.
  • Hallways.
  • Sales areas and offices as it is a positive colour.
  • Used for high visibility areas.
  • Can seem sickly when mixed with green.
  • People can lose their tempers in yellow rooms so avoid in customer complaints, airport waiting rooms etc.


  • The colour of calm and reason.
  • It is the colour of contemplation and reflection.
  • It is a good colour to use in areas where you want people to calm down physically or mentally.
  • It is a good colour for areas of studying and thought.
  • Can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
  • Not a good colour for playrooms
  • Sick rooms, recovery rooms, dentists waiting rooms
  • Bedrooms and rest rooms.


  • Purple represents good taste, an affinity for the arts, greatness and opulence.
  • It can appear pompous and overbearing when used in the wrong setting.
  • Good in an area that you where you want to inspire, be creative ie: Boutiques, Jewellery stores etc.
  • It has spiritual connotations and is used in meditation rooms, religious buildings, holistic healing, spas etc.
  • It can seem dark and lonely at times. Avoid in areas where feelings of loneliness and melancholy prevail - rehabilitation clinics, recovery rooms etc.