365 Objects Of Design

Colour Psychology: Green

28th May 2019
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Today I thought we would dive into a little colour psychology with an (amended) extract from my book but looking  also at inspiration and what’s in the shops so that you can buy if you want but be inspired if you don’t. I wanted to start with green as it’s definitely one of the colours of the moment whether it’s in paint or velvet, plants or connecting to nature.

york kitchen by devol green tiles

york kitchen by devol green tiles

It’s also one of those colours (like grey) that comes in hundreds of different shades so whether you’re dark and foresty (me) or fresh and minty (never say never) there’s bound to be a version for you. It goes with all the shades of pink – think dark olive with a neon pink, or the palest of blush with a dark forest. But don’t forget the aforementioned mint with any of the pinks above depending on if you steer towards the pastel or the punk end of the spectrum.

bloomsbury kitchen by devol

bloomsbury kitchen by devol

I have found that more and more green has been creeping into my wardrobe over the last couple of years, which is a sure sign. At the moment I’m wearing it mostly with black or ivory but I quite often hang it next to the pink in my wardrobe.

So what does green mean? The colour of nature, restfulness and calm, of serenity and peace, rejuvenation and harmony. . .

pink and green bathroom image via sarah akwisombe

pink and green bathroom image via sarah akwisombe

But wait a minute. How many times have you met people who say they won’t have a green car? Whose front door is any colour as long as it’s not green? Who feel certain that green is the harbinger of bad luck? And what about the green-eyed monster? Or that time you felt a bit green about the gills? Remember the office junior who was green about the working of the  internal office politics? On the other hand, we are given the green light on a project or might have a green thumb when it comes to the garden.

green bathroom by madaboutthehouse.com

green bathroom by madaboutthehouse.com

For every positive association of a colour there is a negative to cancel it out.

As with most colours, it’s about using accents or splashes of a colour to create the effect you want. And while green is indeed the colour of fresh starts and new growth,  you might not want to use too much of it. Perhaps a sofa to create a pop of colour or paint the legs of a chair in bright energising green to keep the ideas flowing.

green kooper chair by made.com

green kooper chair by made.com

The key to getting green right is what you put with it. Sage and mint green are perfect with shades of pink  – think of ice cream as a reference point. Or flowers – if it works in nature then it works indoors too. A strong green works brilliantly in a monochromatic scheme – use black and white as the base and add shades of green for energy.

mint green colour blocking by ferm living

mint green colour blocking by ferm living

But green is one colour that can really change under artificial light so you need to check it in both day and electric light before you commit to a shade, otherwise what looks fresh and energising in the day might turn blue and cold at night.

Let’s not forget also that green is the colour of money. And who wouldn’t want to encourage some more of that their way? Money, growth and success are all linked to this colour. Of course one of the best ways to bring it inside is with plants.  Bring plants into your home and encourage a feeling of positivity and growth. But don’t forget to mist them regularly to keep the leaves clean and shiny; it’s pretty obvious that dry and decaying plants will not have the intended effect. A vibrant living green will automatically make visitors feel relaxed and positive – living plants are always better than cut flowers, by the way.

green table from ferm living

green table from ferm living

Too much of it can make you feel complacent though so throw in a little red or orange to counterbalance those feelings of relaxation and stop it leading to stagnation – think of a pond.

Mind you there was a survey recently which decided that a shade of green was the ugliest colour in the world. Opaque Couche, or Pantone  448C, is a sort of dirty olive and, said the survey, deemed so hideous that governments in the UK, France and Ireland were thinking of using it on cigarette packets to put people off smoking. It has been used in Australia since 2012. It’s not a bad colour, but it’s a long way from the fresh shades of emerald that will bring positivity into your office.

novak green chair from graham and green

novak green chair from graham & green

Another survey, by Dulux this time, in 2011 found that blue was the most popular colour in the world followed by green. They found that 23 per cent of people over 50 said green was their favourite but that dropped to 14 per cent of those under 50.  More recently YouGov carried out a worldwide survey of 10 countries across four continents and while blue won all over the world, green came second in the US, China and Thailand. In 2017 it was a deep greeny teal.

green sofa bed from rose & grey (sample sale)

green sofa bed from rose & grey (sample sale)

Mind you that was a while ago. A more recent one by Digital Synopsis found that pink and green on are on the rise all over the world, with Argentina, Japan, Spain and the UK choosing pink and Brazil, Taiwan, the US and UAE going green.

In your own home try a restful forest wall with grey accessories – everything from silver to charcoal. Or jazz up a dark olive with a bright magenta or soft blush. Green has been given the green light and it’s coming to a wall near you.

reclaimed tiles in the home of Sophie Robinson

huntsman green walls by zoffany in the home of Sophie Robinson

Finally, as I have said you need to look at green paint in both natural and electric light to see if it’s the right for you. Lovers of dark can try Zoffany’s Huntsman Green as seen in Sophie Robinson’s Kitchen above. Green Smoke by Farrow & Ball is a good one as are  Brompton Road and Meisel by Mylands.  Below is Invisible Green by Little Greene, who have a whole green shade card. Now, I’m going to put my hands up and say I’m not familiar with the paler shades (yet) and, since it’s so subjective, I’m not going to point you towards things I don’t know so if anyone has any recommendations then stick them in the comments below.

little green invisible greene and leather

little green invisible greene and leather

That said, I do like Arsenic as seen in my client’s home below but it’s a bold choice. That said it’s great with gold as well as pink- one of my clients used it in the back of an alcove in the kitchen and put gold and white crockery on display. I have also liked Teresa’s Green, which will be blue in some lights.

beverly hills at hoover building by paul craig

banana leaf wallpaper at hoover building by paul craig paint is arsenic and pink ground

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  • Jacqueline 3rd June 2019 at 6:04 am

    I have painted 2 walls in my tiny Victorian terrace Citrine by Little Greene. The one in the dining area sets off my low pine dresser on which sits a Chinese orange and cream lamp base. The wall in the kitchen backs a white painted cabinet with an oak top. I have one striped blind nearby in lime and cream. Hence the Citrine which goes so well with it.
    Please note my foray away from white walls started when I read your book!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 5th June 2019 at 11:27 am

      This all sounds delicious. I’m so glad the book gave you confidence.

  • gautami raletta 31st May 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve always loved GREEN!, and your post just gave an even bigger reason to love it.
    Every shade of green in the pictures you posted looks amazing.
    Thank you for sharing it.

  • Eve 29th May 2019 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve just moved and bought some gorgeous light and dark grey bedding trimmed with mustard. However it looks too utilitarian and seems to need another colour to make it look more sumptuous, I was thinking of a dark green or navy on the walls but never used dark colours before. Love the forest green mentioned above. Hmmmm shall I be bold???

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 30th May 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Yes be bold! I think navy would be lovely with the grey and mustard. Just make sure – when you paint the walls that you do the woodwork in either mustard (better) or pale grey. It would look odd to have white suddenly introduced. So match the door either to the wall or the woodwork as well. I mean ideally the ceiling wouldn’t be white either. Your palette is navy, mustard, pale and dark grey.

  • Vicky 29th May 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Green is my favourite colour, and always has been (I wasn’t even put off by the colour of my school tie), possibly because it was the less obvious choice. Having said that, the ubiquitous dull sludgy olive-greens and khakis of my 1970s childhood home are best forgotten.

  • Anna 28th May 2019 at 11:25 am

    Ha, well …the saying is “Red and Green must never been seen” in clothing that is!
    I like your dark green bedroom choice and in the 80’s I used pink and soft green to great effect, so it’s coming back into vogue.
    F&B have a colour called Light Blue which to my amazement photographs green but turns from green to grey in a north facing bedroom, so yes got to try paint in all kinds of light.

  • Annie 28th May 2019 at 11:12 am

    I love green and pink! My daughter’s room is a sort-of pale grassy green (called Summer Lichen from Fired Earth) and it looks fantastic with pops of coral or peachy pink in particular. I also think green may be the “red thread” running through almost all of our house, with a slightly greeny grey colour on the walls in the hallway, green border on the stair runner, a green tiled bathroom, and the aforementioned bathroom. Not every room but several…

  • Jade 28th May 2019 at 11:06 am

    I painted my son’s room in fired earth’s celadon and it is beautiful. It looks great with red/yellow/teal colours so can put lots of colourful kids stuff with it without ruining the look of the room. His room is north facing and it doesn’t look cold like a blue would, even thought it is quite a bluey green.

    I’m currently making a banquette with faux leather upholstery fabric in an olive green which isn’t too dark and looks great to add a bit of colour to an otherwise quite colourless kitchen. It works nicely with the wood and brass accents in there.

    I never realised I liked green so much but it actually features quite a lot in my home. It’s snuck up on me.

  • Skye 28th May 2019 at 8:24 am

    oI love green, but I have made mistakes before, with dank greens. My lounge alcoves are painted with Little Greene Olive Colour 71, it is gorgeous, so velvety.

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