Merry or subdued, energetic or calming, colour is so much a part of our lives we sometimes take it for granted.
According to Asiphe Ndlela, a psychologist, colour is the first element the eye sees before shape, size or texture.
"Colour is what makes the first impression," Ndlela says. "It can make or break the feel of a room. It is the very first thing most people notice when they walk into a room and has an immediate effect on their emotional response towards it."
Kate Johannes, an interior decorator, says people should not take colour for granted, especially if they are about to paint a home.
She says changing colours is the most effective way to inject newness into an environment. Colour, she says, is the lifeblood of any design.
"Colour affects how people perceive space. Though there are no right or wrong colours, if chosen incorrectly they can have the wrong effect on the space."
How do you choose colours?
To achieve a balanced result Johannes advises buyers to always shop for colours with what they already have in the room in mind.
"Your new colour scheme should not clash with the existing or permanent elements of the space," Johannes says.
"It is also important to keep in mind that what you liked in a magazine or at the paint shop might not look the same in your home."
Johannes says the amount of light in a room can dramatically change the way a colour is visualised by the eye. She advises people to always experiment with colour samples by placing them against the surface to be painted.
Bob Masemola, a realtor in Soweto, says when a seller is getting ready to put a property on the market, one of the most cost-effective and impressive things one can do is to paint.
"When choosing a paint for resale, make it neutral. Neutrals appeal to the largest buyer segment," he says.
"While you might love bright red as an accent wall in your living room or must have lavender in your bedroom, think again. The average home buyer will see those colours and shy away from your property," Masemola says.
What are the hottest trends?
According to Johannes, the trends for 2008 are blues, magenta, lavender, earth tones, neutrals, black and white and metallic.
But she warns people not to be taken in by decorating rules and trends.
"Your home is your retreat," she says. "You have to feel good in it and love it. Think about what makes you feel happy, relaxed, excited and cosy.
Then think about the colours that are associated with those experiences. You'll start to see what colours you like and how they make you feel."