The incredible ability of colours to affect one’s behaviour, mood and emotional state is widely accepted today, but the first records of the psychological power of colour were in fact found on papyrus scrolls dating back to 1 550 BC.
Each colour seen by the human eye has its place in the colour spectrum, according to its wavelength or frequency. Join the colours end to end and you have the colour wheel, which shows off all the many shades that make up the beautiful world around us. This all-important tool shows decorators and artists how colours relate to one another, enabling us to determine what effect a particular scheme will have on a space.
We refer to different intensities of the same colour as “monochromatic harmonies”, while colours next to each other on the colour wheel form an “adjacent harmony”. Colours that appear opposite each other are known as “complementary colours”. Just like the many other opposites we know – north and south, male and female, light and dark – so too each colour has its opposite or complement. Orange, for example, is complementary to blue. Used together, the two colours show each other off to dazzling effect and balance each other, since the one is a warm colour and the other cool. Likewise, purple is complementary to yellow – picture the beauty of a lilac iris with its bright yellow tongue.
To read more about the main colours of the spectrum – what effect they have and how best to use them in decorating your home and surroundings – click on your favourites on the colour wheel below.