Find your true colours

18th September 2019

How to do colour well – a Paint the Town Green blog interview

Colour is all around us and it’s an intrinsic part of our lives everywhere we turn and look. We might even say we’re so used to colour that we take it for granted, it’s always there. But just imagine living in a world that’s black and white and you’ll start to realise the true importance and beauty of it. Colour is so much more than what we see: it’s how we feel, how we behave, how we’re being perceived. It’s an art and a science that has the power to transform your home and your life.

Karen Haller is a leading international authority in the field of applied colour psychology – the study of how colour influences the way we think, feel and behave. Her passion started when she was very young and realised that colour can have a real impact on us. Paint the Town Green was invited to the launch of Karen Haller’s latest book. The Little Book of Colour – How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform your Life  and we found the evening and Karen’s colour stories so fascinating and insightful, we wanted to share all we learned. Here’s our blog interview with Karen herself:

What inspired you to study colour?
“My utter fascination with colour and how colour can have such a profound effect and impact on us. I instinctively felt colour was more than something pretty and decorative and being the ultimate ‘why’ child, I sent out to learn everything I could and I’m still learning something new every single day.”

In a sentence, what is ‘psychology of colour’?
“Applied Colour Psychology, which is my area of speciality, is the study of how colour influences how we think, feel and behave.”

Why is colour so important in our lives?
“Colour is an amazing phenomenon. We’re surrounded by it all the time and influences everything we do – though we are barely aware that this is happening. In fact, we are only around 20 per cent conscious of the colour decisions that we make, though we are making them all the time: about what we wear, what we eat, what we buy, how we relax, right down to how we take our morning cuppa. We have only to imagine doing without colour for a moment to see how much we rely on it to guide us through our everyday lives. Without colour, how would we know if a flying insect is harmless or will sting us, if a road is safe to cross, or if food is ripe or poisonous?”

When it comes to interior design, how should we approach choosing our colours?
“The approach I teach my design students and use with my clients is human centred design. Instead of building the colour and design scheme around the sofa, I build it around the person who owns the sofa. I work from the inside out – their home is an authentic expression of their personality. It’s not based on the latest fashion or fads or what anyone else has, but what is true to them. They are living in a space that reflects who they are. They are coming home to self. It’s a real joy working this way.”

How does colour, especially in our home, affect our mood?
“Colour effects more than just our mood. We can’t see a mood, but what we can see is our behaviours. So, the question you need to ask yourself is: what is the behaviour you want to see? Your version of relaxed may not look like my version of relaxed or your friends’; for example, you may be able to relax only while watching television, but I prefer silence. We all have our own version of relaxed. When you know the behaviour you want to see, you can choose the colours and design style that will support it.”

What are the most common mistakes we make when choosing colour for our interiors?
“One of the biggest mistakes is that we look outside ourselves and not within. I’ve often seen people design stunning fashion-led homes that others love, and they just don’t feel comfortable in. A number of years ago I worked on a piece of research that showed 75% of people in the UK design their homes for others to like it. I just found this incredibly sad.”

Can you tell us one surprising / fun fact about colour? 😊
“I find the history of colour naming quite fascinating. The word for the colour orange didn’t begin to appear in English until after the fruit was imported into Britain in the Middle Ages. Before then, if an English-speaking person wanted to refer to something orange coloured, they choose the next best thing – red, hence why we have the robin red breast, red squirrel and red fox.”

There’s so much more to colour than it being visually appealing. At Paint the Town Green we know that choosing what colour you live with (and live ’in’) needs to be an expression of who you are and when it comes to interior design, Karen’s approach is human centred, an approach we applaud.

Trends, other people’s opinions, misconceptions about the effect of certain colours, can all lead to a wrong choice. As colour specialists, we consult customers every day at Paint the Town Green on what works best for them, their lifestyle and their personality – there are so many factors to consider, it can seem like a minefield. But starting from one’s personality and working your way to outside life factors will lead you on the right path.

If you are looking to redecorate your home, we encourage you to observe the colours around you, and notice how they make you feel and how they influence your actions. What colour would you bring into your living room? What about your bedroom, or kitchen?

Karen Haller’s The Little Book of Colour – How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform your Life published by Penguin Life is out now.

Paint the Town Green was invited to leading colour psychologist Karen Haller’s new book launch ‘The Little Book of Colour’


Paint the Town Green offer an in-house colour consultancy. Our eco-friendly paints have the lowest possible levels of VOCs making them a better choice for you and the environment. All water based, they are odourless, quick drying and come in three finishes: matt, wipeable or eggshell.

For more information about our paints or for a decorating quote, please visit our showroom at 39a&b Allfarthing Lane or call us on 020 8871 0531.


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