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Meet colour expert Sara Garanty

Sara Garanty is an interior designer and one of Sweden's leading colour experts. She works as a colour consultant for both private individuals and companies, lectures in colour psychology and inspires with colour magic on Instagram. Here she talks about how different colours affect us, reveals the most common mistakes we make when it comes to choosing colours in our homes and gives tips on how to use the power of colour to your advantage in everyday life.

Tell us a bit about how you first became interested in colour?

I became intuitively interested in colour as a child. I would sit in the classroom and think that colours other than white on the walls would probably speed up my learning. Since I couldn't repaint, I satisfied my craving for colour with colourful notepads and pencils. As I grew up and started studying interior design and later colour psychology, I realised that my childhood intuition had been right.

Colour psychology and colour science is an incredibly vast subject, and the more I learn, the more curious I become about the magical world of colour. I see colours as one big work of art – their richness of shades, the play between light and shadow. I really like artists' philosophical approach to colour as something almost spiritual, something that can make us meet different parts of ourselves and enter different worlds and dimensions. The artist Paul Cezanne wrote "Colour is the place where our brain and the universe meets."

But there is also a more scientific explanation. With colour, the surface of an object can be broken, fragmented, changed and distorted. Blue can make an object look flatter, yellow can make an object curve, green is static and red is dynamic. Understanding this allows you to influence shapes and use the knowledge of colour to transform objects.

In what way are we affected by the colours around us?

If we think of everything in the universe as vibrations and energies, it gets a little easier. Colour is made up of light at different wavelengths, and light is made up of energy. So, colour is energy that vibrates at different frequencies and affects us whether we like it or not. If we become aware of the quality or essence that each colour gives off, it becomes easier to understand what colours we can surround ourselves with to achieve desired results or moods. Green creates calm, orange makes us creative, yellow is good for studying. We often need different colours at different times in our lives. I tend to talk about colours from a health and consciousness perspective. Why not use this simple but seemingly forgotten wisdom when choosing clothes, home decor or notebooks? With increased knowledge of the powers of colour, you can use them to create more magic in your life.

What should you consider when choosing colours for your home?

Dare to choose colours you like, not just something that's trendy at the moment. I believe that a home should reflect the personalities that live there. Also, think about the whole of the apartment or house. If the rooms are placed in a row, you need to make sure that the colours go well together, as they will be visible next to each other when the doors are open. Match the colours of the walls with joinery and ceilings. Use several colours but also work with contrasts or the same colour in different tones.

What are the most common mistakes people make when it comes to colour?

People forget to test paint with samples. Colours look different in different lighting and colours also change depending on what other colours they are surrounded by. You should always test paint on all four walls, and along with curtains, carpet, sofa and so on. Many people mix different shades of greige, which usually clashes. Instead, keep the colour scheme together using the NCS codes. Also, avoid mixing warm and cool shades of grey.

What should you think about when matching and combining colours?

Use a colour scheme. A colour scheme is a combination of colours and consists of one or more of the 12 colours on the colour wheel. By pairing different colours together, you can create an infinite number of colour combinations and palettes. I always tell my students to use half intuition and half logic. There are a couple of different types of colour schemes:

Tone on tone (monochromatic colour scheme)

The idea here is to find a colour and then use different shades of the same colour. All colours belong to the same colour family but have different saturations.

Complementary colours

Two colours that are located opposite each other on the colour wheel are called complementary colours. Since they are so far apart, maximum contrast is achieved when they are paired together. What you should be careful about is using half of one colour and half of the other. A ratio of 20/80 is much better. Red and green are complementary colours, as are purple and yellow and orange and blue.

Related colours (analogue colour scheme)

A slightly softer colour scheme than complementary colours. Here you use colours that are close to each other in the colour wheel, about 3–4 of them. This is an easy way to approach colours if you don't know which colours to match, but still want to use many different ones. An analogue palette will often look harmonious and communicate consistency.

How do you choose colours that last over time without feeling outdated after a few years?

I often get this question, but unfortunately there are no such colours. We live in a world that is influenced by trends and even white and grey are trends that come and go. Choose colours at home that you like and that you have liked for a long time, that gives you the best chance of succeeding. Or choose colours according to the psychology of colour. Here is a simple description of the meaning of colours and what they bring to a room:

RED

Red can be used when you need courage, strength and endurance. In cultural terms, it stands for both love and destruction. It is a great colour to surround yourself with when you need strength. I always wear red on Mondays to get some extra energy after the weekend. However, I don't recommend painting you walls bright red, instead you can opt for a toned down version and use more colorful red tones on details in your home. Given the intensity of red and the fact that it gives us energy, it's a colour that can be difficult to be around for a long time. I therefore recommend using red in rooms where you will be staying for a short period of time and where you could use some extra energy. For example, in hallways, waiting rooms and corridors. Red is not as suitable for bedrooms or offices.

ORANGE

Orange is the creative force that drives everything we want to achieve. It brings desire, passion and joy and sparks creativity. I recommend all shades of orange, from lighter "peachy" tones to stronger orange colours in rooms where you want to bring out your creative spirit. Orange is an active colour that also encourages us to be more social, and works well in spaces where you have social activities, such as the living room, dining room and the kitchen. I really like to mix together warm colours like yellow, orange and red in different shades.

YELLOW

Yellow stands for optimism, joy and self-esteem. Yellow helps you gain the confidence to turn your orange ideas into reality. It's a great colour for learning new things, so it's perfect in study rooms and children's rooms. Yellow can also work well in an office if you're working on something where you need to take in a lot of new information in a short space of time.

GREEN

Green has strong associations to nature and is the colour we find easiest to relax around. It's also the colour our eyes can see the most shades of. Green tones calm the nervous system and make us want to slow down and take a break. It's therefore an appropriate colour in spaces that you use to unwind, such as bedrooms and living rooms. Green is a quite grateful colour because it goes with almost any other colour. Think about how colourful flowers and the greenery of nature go so well together. Goethe, who was one of the first to study colours, believed that time moved more slowly in green and painted his entire library in this colour.

BLUE

Blue conveys confidence, seriousness and stability. It provides focus while also making us feel safe and relaxed. Research shows that we concentrate 20 percent better in blue environments. That's why it's great for offices and the workspace at home. Blue instils attitude and self-confidence, an awareness of yourself and what you want to express. To keep it from appearing too serious, it can be nice to mix it up with green or pink.

INDIGO (DARK BLUE)

Indigo helps you gain insights and become more aware of who you are, what you are capable of and what you long for. Use this colour when you want to gain deeper insights about yourself or a project. I have painted part of my office corner where I sit and reflect in dark blue. However, be careful with dark blue walls – they can also make you fall asleep and is therefore a great choice for bedrooms.

TURQUOISE

Turquoise is the colour of change. It gets all that stagnant energy moving, creates new possibilities and gives a sense of openness. Turquoise can therefore help us enter into the search for something new.

PINK

Pink is the colour of love. Love for ourselves, for a partner or for everything beautiful around us. Pink also helps us to open up and be more social together, so it's a suitable choice for social spaces such as living rooms and dining rooms. Pink goes very nicely together with blue and green.

BLACK

Black stands for stillness. I like black in small amounts, but it can be difficult to use in an entire room. It makes the energy stagnate.

WHITE

The white energy doesn't give off anything special, and maybe that's why many Swedes have appreciated it for so many years. With a lot of white you can get a feeling of space, but if you want more personality in a room I recommend one of the other colours.

BEIGE

Beige is actually a lighter version of orange and works in the same way as orange, but to a lesser extent.

GREY

Grey is a mix between white and black and creates balance. It generates movement in the stillness, and stillness in the movement. Grey is a good choice of colour when you want to keep it neutral, but doesn't add as much as the other colours and can therefore become a bit bland and boring after a while.


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