Colour Design for the Cold Climate

Photo by Harlequin. An example of colour palette that energizes and nurtures during winter. Many styles and colour palettes can be also use and be quite impactful.

Photo by Harlequin. An example of colour palette that energizes and nurtures during winter. Many styles and colour palettes can be also use and be quite impactful.

The one thing that is most essential for success in every aspect of our lives—career, relationships, diet, activities, and more—is balance. When our lives have balance, we are healthy, both physically and emotionally. Without it, our best efforts become unproductive, and our experiences, unsatisfying.

In the same way balance is essential for success, colour balance in our surroundings is necessary for our wellness.

I am not talking about balancing colour in design; I am talking about balancing colour in our lives. As each colour has a different energy frequency, its wavelength impacts us in a different way. We need well-balanced exposure to all the colours.

Colour balance is disturbed during the winter season in our part of the world. In some areas of Canada, winter lasts six to eight months, during which nature is stripped of its vibrancy. To regain the colour balance in our lives, we need to bring vibrant colours indoors.

So, for those who live in climates with a long, frigid winter, here are some considerations:

The Problem With Grey

Did you know that grey is the most frequently used colour in furniture? This is quite understandable: grey is elegant, easy to use in design, and hides dirt. Unfortunately, grey palettes produce a dull environment regardless how elegant they might appear. Because grey couches are everywhere, this choice rarely reflects an individual's authentic style, but rather, indicates a trend or fad.

The Problem With White

White is another elegant colour. White spaces make a great first impression. However, after a while, dominantly white spaces elicit boredom and feelings of dullness and loneliness. White is not a colour that enhances creativity, so if you do creative work, avoid doing so in a predominately white space.

Colour Layering

Although it is possible to create a neutral palette and add accent colours in accessories, the result is rarely robust enough to restore the colour balance needed in our lives. This palette could easily turn dull and uninspiring. The most impactful method for energizing and nurturing us through winter, while producing stunning aesthetics, is what I call Colour Layering: using multiple tones of a combination of colours. The combination needs to include harmonious and complementary hues, and the central colour(s) needs to be expressed in two to three tones. The secret lies in the proportion of each hue, and the placement of colours in relation to one another. When layering is done well, a space becomes uplifting and pleasant. Layering involves more than just a couple of items: every piece in the room must play a role.


One of the essential colours that we lose in winter is vivid green. Whatever your palette might be, bring in green, whether through furniture, accents, art, wallpaper or plants. Green has both a calming and an energizing impact on us.

Although we are all different as individuals, we are wired to respond in similar ways to our environments. Though colour may not impact us immediately, the right colour combinations can contribute significantly to our emotional and mental health on the long run, and restore much-needed colour balance to our lives.

nora bouz
Wellbeing Design Consultant