Why do Rainbows make People feel Happy?

I was asked this question by a reporter weeks ago and I’ve thought a lot about my answer since then. 

This is what I said: ‘The colours of a rainbow are light, fresh and happy and since they are so rare, they elicit a sense of awe and delight in addition to bringing the promise of sunshine with the blue sky usually on the horizon’.

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In my newsletter last month (click here to subscribe if you’d like to read the entire article), I talked about how the colours we are decorating with in 2010 are from a fresher and cleaner palette, which are happy colours!
Roche Bobois

If a client were to say, “I want a happy blue!” I would automatically think of fresh blues or turquoise shades like in this room (below). I would not show a grayed blue if I had just been asked for a happy one.

Or a happy sunset, coloured sofa (below)!

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It’s why decorating for kids rooms is so much fun because it’s all about happy colours!
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However, the two rooms I’ve shown above (except the kids room) have been balanced with cooler, grayer tones. It’s more sophisticated (in my opinion) than just filling up a house with a jumble of bright colours. Even a colourful, patchwork sofa (like the one below) although not my taste and not for everyone, works if it’s the most important element in the room. I’m not a big fan of the kind of rooms where everything screams ‘look at me, look at me’!

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So now that I’ve had so much time to think about what a really great answer would be I think if were asked again I would make it much more simple; the colours of a rainbow are happy colours period.
What is your opinion? Do you agree or disagree?

Related posts:
Atmosphere; The One Thing you Cannot Buy
Happiness is. . . Living your Life with Gratitude
Ribba frames from IKEA; A Transformation

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24 Responses to Why do Rainbows make People feel Happy?

  1. Laura Trevey says:

    You know me… I am all about bright colors and feeling happy!!

    Hope you are doing something fun today Maria!

    xoxo

  2. Donna • Color Specialist says:

    I heard that if you see a double rainbow, you'll meet the man your are destined to marry that day. I don't know how true it is but the two of you can certainly talk about the beautiful colors of the those rainbows!
    :-)

  3. Dagny @ Beautiful Living says:

    Love the primary colors! They definitely freshen up a room. I'm always drawn towards interiors with bright colors, but I always end up with beige and white with green, purple and turquoise as accents. Maybe it's part of being Scandinavian?

  4. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    I agree, Maria! Although, I do think it's because it's a rare sight, too. Even now, I'll point out a rainbow excitedly. I like the bright colors tempered by gray ~ we don't want our living rooms looking like Pee Wee's Playhouse.

  5. white black red says:

    I am so enjoying finding designers and people who have an eye and a love for colour. Really enjoying your blog! I have included it in my blog roll so I can keep coming back!

  6. Kathy says:

    I totally agree!

    Also wanted to let you know I am in LOVE with the Montgomery White you suggested. Guess I can't get away from yellows, my happy color.
    Thank you, Thank you!

  7. Tracy @ Comfort and Luxury says:

    I agree with your first answer, Maria. A rainbow contains all the bright, fresh, optimistic primaries we loved as children plus it's usually an unexpected surprise to see one. All kinds of happy rolled into a few fleeting moments.

  8. Candied Fabrics says:

    LOVE those photos, again illustraing your point exactly! As I was taking in the gloriousness of that peacock /turquoise blue sofa, I realized that it was standing out so well because of all the gray/earth tones in the background! Then I read further and see that's your comment exactly! Yay! I'm thinking like Maria! ;-)

    I've been dyeing fabric for 12 years now, and have in the past struggled with color choices because there are so MANY when you can make your own. My 1st step towards control of color was spending a few years dyeing with all 3 primary colors to get those lovely "tertiary colors". After working in muted tones for a couple of years, I'm working on developing the use of bright colors with toned ones…there's always more to learn when it comes to working with colors!

  9. A Gift Wrapped Life says:

    I think they make people happy as they show us a bit of nature's magic. A show just for the ones lucky enough to be standing there.

  10. DesignTies says:

    Rainbows are just plain magical!! Like Kathy @ Creative Home, I get excited like a child when I see one ;-) My excitement and pleasure could be about the happy colours… but it could also be the promise of a big pot of gold at its base!!
    Victoria @ DesignTies

  11. Sara @ Russet Street Reno says:

    I completely agree that a rainbow color is an instant boost. Rainbows are amazing, I think because when you see them you realize they really exist, not just in a textbook.

  12. Jürgen says:

    As always you are absolutely right.
    I think that colors affect the mood is something accepted by almost everyone.
    The rainbow makes us happy because it is the promise of better weather (and sun).

  13. Carol Ann says:

    What a great answer you gave…
    I find it interesting that since we are in money problems, the world over… as before, we are now going to happy colours, history repeats itself, in art history class they talked about how design changed with mood of the country, we want to be happy (money or no money) so we change our homes to help us get there, anyway I think its interesting to watch it happen…
    Great post, I loved the room with the turquoise sofa, wonderful wallpaper and window coverings, just a fab room. (since I am beige a sofa designer, lol)
    Regards, Carol Ann x

  14. Linda in AZ * says:

    * Dear Maria~

    Reading your description, as well as those of the others, was so very interesting & insightful, in soooo many ways!!

    We live in the desert~~~ our incredible sunsets are legendary, & their beauty can almost/very easily leave one breathless. I often, on a beautiful sunset evening, quietly whisper to myself "Wow! How DOES He "DO that?"~~~ Then I smile, & of course, I KNOW the answer, for He is undoubtedly the best artist there ever was or ever will be.

    (Uh, yes~~~ "Hello, my name is Linda, and I am a sunrise and sunset addict"… and it is WONDERFULLY BEAUTIFUL! If there were only one word I COULD use to describe MY feelings upon seeing a glorious sunset (or sunrise), it would definitely be "H*O*P*E"~~~!

    Thanks & HAPPY SUNDAY!
    Linda in AZ *
    bellesmom1234@comcast,net

  15. chanteusevca says:

    Rainbows are a sign of hope and I've never met a rainbow I didn't love! Not long ago I realized that everything I love about color I must have learned in kindergarten. Most of my favorite colors have remained a constant since that time — red, turquoise blue, green and yellow. And thanks to you, I'm learning that those are colors that I can use in my home and not just in my wardrobe. No wonder I've been unhappy with all the other colors I've tried in my home. They just aren't "me."

  16. Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    When I was little if a rainbow was out I would run out and see it. Then, I would fantasize about all toys I would buy if I found the gold at the end of the rainbow. It was magical and they still are.

  17. "Yeah, that works..!" says:

    I agree with the others – rainbows are magical and the pot of gold is all the goodness and happiness in our hearts.

  18. Traci Zeller Designs says:

    I think *both* of your answers are exactly right!

  19. Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP says:

    And there is always that promise of the pot of gold.

    I think too it's something about seeing something that isn't there – can't be touched, moves as you drive – it's an illusion created by physics.

  20. LesleySW says:

    As always, I think you are right on. I had not really thought about the "happiness" of a color, but I knew exactly what you meant immediately.

    Nice photos and thoughts!

  21. pve design says:

    So much of it totally depends on where you are. I am in love with a farmhouse in Europe that has juxtaposed bright colors with an old world spot. Then I do love just entering a space of calm with neutrals.
    I think an artist needs a palette cleanser of white or neutrals to come home to. Too much color makes me feel sort of "garanimal-ish" like I am trying too hard to match. Does that make sense?
    pve

  22. Eliana Tomás says:

    colour is happiness and this is a beautiful happy post. love it a lot. great selection of images.

  23. Cristin says:

    What a lovely post! The images you selected do make me happy!

    It has been raining a lot here lately and last week I saw a double rainbow. Can't help and smile when you see one.

    Also, many thanks for tweeting my post! You are a doll.

    xo,
    cristin

  24. ashlina says:

    thanks for the comment sweetness!
    :)

    rainbows definitely make me happy. and so do the rooms in this post…
    that wallpaper is amazing!

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