Six ways of influencing interior space with colour

December 20, 2022 | General

Pleasant environments can positively influence your senses and mood. This is why the crafting of interior space is a dedicated field of expertise.

Artificial lighting, spatial proportions, colour, and materials are all elements for consideration. Paynter Dixon’s design team brings this sensibility to an extraordinary range of projects, from restaurants to school classrooms, community facilities to office fit outs.

Our team shared insights on the influence of colour.

Starting with the science

In the same way that an abstract painting can produce a certain mood, the colour scheme of a building can subtly influence the behaviour and interactions of occupants.

Colour perception is highly subjective and influenced by the individual’s lived and learned responses, gender and cultural background.

There is also a relationship between colour temperature and our circadian rhythm. This internal body clock regulates our sleep-wake cycle and the physical, mental, and behavioural changes we experience over a 24-hour period.

What is the effect of this relationship? Warmer colours and bright lighting typically increase muscular tensions, respiration rate, heart action, blood pressure and brain activity. Conversely, cooler colours and dim lighting promote muscle relaxation and the inducement of sleep.

Influencing spatial perception

The arrangement of colours in an environment can also change our sense of spatial perspective. For example, lighter tones can appear to enlarge space while darker colours can make elements appear closed or smaller to the eye.

Here are a number of ways to change the perceived space using only variations in colour and materials.

  1. Condense. Evoke a feeling of safety with stronger colours on surfaces to absorb natural light.
  2. Amplify. Enlarge the appearance of surfaces with lighter colours which reflect natural light.
  3. Increase. Enhance the sense of depth by applying darker colours on the walls and white on the ceilings to elevate their perceived height.
  4. Shorten. Allude to a more intimate space with warm and exciting colours which also perceptively lower the ceiling.
  5. Widen. Expand narrow hallways with the use of contrasting colours on surrounding areas, including a lighter tone on a dedicated wall surface.
  6. Feature. Apply a lighter colour to your feature wall to provide a visual counterpoint to the darker-tinted walls.

Put into practise

Secondary Learning Precinct, Norwest Christian College
Paynter Dixon designed and constructed the new Atrium building for Norwest Christian College, embracing the College’s pedagogical framework. With students encouraged to become ‘pilots’ of their own learning, the building utilises natural colours and textures to evoke a calm learning environment.

Wide walkways are delineated with coloured flooring to create a main thoroughfare and pockets of collaboration zones on the outskirts. The use of colour within classrooms also creates study nooks. Learn more.

Redwood, Blacktown Workers Club
In fitting out the bar for Blacktown Workers Club, Paynter Dixon evoked casual urban sophistication with booths, large circular windows, charcoal-black cladding and a graffiti wall painted by a local artist. Exciting colours and a black ceiling help create a cosier setting for night patrons. Learn more. 

Cowra Services Club
A dark and under-utilised function room area has been transformed into a bar and servery with a retractable roof and operable glass wall. The light tones of interior surfaces succeed in reflecting natural light and amplifying the sense of space. Learn more.

Contributors: Design Manager Jade Cohen and Interior Designer Anantaya Kuleechuay