Research has demonstrated the undeniable impact of art on the body and brain. How we respond to colour is deeply personal and often influenced by past experiences, culture and spatiality. Imagery, hues and tones can transport us back to fond memories or elicit feelings of excitement, awe or even melancholy. The concept of colour psychology is somewhat of a hot topic in the art sphere, but it’s far from a new theory.
Colour Therapy at Home
In some ancient cultures, colour therapy was - and still is - a revered practice. Chromotherapy - sometimes referred to as colourology - is a centuries-old holistic concept that uses the visible spectrum (colour and light) to heal various physical, mental and spiritual imbalances. It is said that different colours give off different wavelengths of electromagnetic energy. This explains why some colours are thought to have alternative effects on our general well-being.
Today, you can find lamps, body pads, saunas, hot tubs, and more marketing the rebalancing power of the rainbow. Ever tried a Happy Light? Light therapy lamps, also known as Seasonal Associative Disorder lights, trigger your brain to release feel-good hormones such as serotonin, the happy hormone, and melatonin, needed to help you sleep. In much the same way, art can serve as a natural pick-me-up, an elixir to winter blues or a remedy for tiredness and fatigue.
The connection between colour and mood is a must-consider when deciding which paintings are good for the home. Interior designers are prone to using a dash of purple or a drop of gold to encourage feelings of indulgence, luxury or opulence. The hue has long been associated with nobility and good fortune. Further along the colour spectrum, shades of red often symbolise love, passion or anger, and can therefore be highly stimulating. Blues, on the other hand, often convey and evoke feelings of calm, serenity and melancholy.
A Room-by-room Approach
It’s tempting to approach decorating a room as child’s play. However, there is a real science to it. While you don’t need to be an interior designer to know which paintings you like, matching them to a fixed colour scheme or an already established aesthetic takes patience and consideration. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all. Here’s a room-by-room approach to help you find the best paintings for your home.
Humans have an astounding awareness of even the slightest energetic or emotional shifts in the room. For the bedroom, the utmost sanctuary in our homes (apart from, perhaps, the snack cupboard), it’s wise to seek out soft hues and gentle imagery that evoke peacefulness. Restful spaces require subtle works that don’t overwhelm the senses but rock them into a blissful state of relaxation.
For bedroom art, seek out collections of calming and therapeutic paintings to invite a little zen into your room. Floral still life scenes cast a thoughtful, romantic shadow while flowing landscape paintings invite openness, clarity and escapism.
The kitchen is oft-neglected when it comes to paintings, despite being the so-called heart of the home. Create a kitchen focal point by adding lively and uplifting paintworks between the cabinets and above the sink or your kitchen island to add vitality and visual intrigue.
For the perfect finishing touch, don’t forget about the details. If you’re working with a backdrop of patterned tiles, add a graphic painting to your mosaic to bring a little pizazz. That said, you want to add just the right amount of visual interest without overwhelming the senses. A little spice adds depth; too much spice spoils the dish.
The term Living Room arose around the mid-19th century. It was coined to label a space where general social activities are performed. We’re a true nation of lounge-lovers in the UK and spend most of our time at home in this space. From said general social activities to nap time, reading time, and dinner-in-front-of-the-TV-time, the living room is just as much a place for fun as it is for resting.
Living room paintings should be versatile and able to suit multiple occasions. For contrast and playfulness, opt for warm but abstract paintings that bring colour and shape but maintain a feeling of approachability. For example, deeply emotive works by Andrew Kinmont or Magdalena Morey. You could also commission an artist to paint directly onto your walls for a refined and minimalistic look.
Art can have a positive effect on our productivity. Existing studies indicate that warm colours can considerably impact our attention levels. This gives cause to believe in the power of some arousing colours to increase our memory performance and capacity to concentrate. Besides, especially when you’re working from home, nobody wants to stare at a blank wall all day.
Make your home office or study an inspiring and motivating place to be with paintings that energise without overwhelming. Think bold, bright colours for creativity and vigour, black and white for order and efficiency, and pastel hues for contemplation and meditation.
For your bathroom, you most likely want a clean and fresh look to match the crisp atmosphere of the space. For bathroom paintings, bank a classic but understated feel with refined and sophisticated styles. Colour field paintings with soft edges and organic palettes are modern and polished but still present a marked tenderness. Alternatively, tasteful seascapes and ocean themes recreate the quiet tranquillity of water or swimming at sea. Shimmering, dynamic brushstrokes in photorealist paintings give the illusion of undulating waves on the surface of your walls.
For something a little different, consider choosing a single, large paintwork to take centre stage that catches the eye. For example, an expressionistic painting will bring life and personality to neutral bathroom walls.
The entrance is the first room you see when arriving at your home. While we’d all love a grand entryway to match a Savoy foyer, we’re often dealing with limited space. To avoid overpowering the room, look for unfussy, elegant works that invite you in. An array of small yet punchy paintings can bring a refined flair and draw the eye up and around the space available. Bold, botanical works bring the outside in with you, too. Modern portrait paintings, alternatively, add character and are a welcome greeting home.
If you run out of wall space in your hallway, play with perspective. You could choose a small painting and hang it over a window. This delicately frames the work and animates the surrounding space. Who needs curtains?
Invest in your Space, Invest in You
We simply can’t deny the power of paintings to alter our mood and perception of a space. To invest in art for the home is to take another step towards living a life of colour.