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PostHeaderIcon Finding Your Perfect Color - March Designers Log

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As spring arrives, and thoughts turn to refreshing your home, The Designers Log updates and revises this previous post from 2 years ago.

You've probably seen them too, people at Home Depot or the local paint store, holding a handful of paint swatches with puzzled looks on their faces.

For most of us, selecting a paint color is difficult.  Beyond deciding which blue matches your eyes or which green is closest to your daughters bedspread, there is a psychological impact of color in our lives.

Every color we encounter in a space has some impact on how we feel.  It can make us happy or sad, literally give us a headache or put a warm fuzzy feeling into our hearts.  A recent study by Olympic Paints found that yellow, an old standby for babies rooms, can actually provoke anxiety and babies in yellow nurseries tend to cry more.

Color can also affect our appetite, work productivity and even our lovemaking.  The saturation or intensity of a color can alter how you feel.  A soft blue can bring back fond memories of childhood while a strong dark blue can be depressing.

Cultural preferences can be another factor in color selection.  In China and India white is the color of death, as opposed to black in this country.  We think of white as meaning peace, virginity and it's usually the color for wedding dresses.  But in many Latin America countries, it's considered good luck to wear bright colors, not white. 

Here's a quick primer on how some colors can affect your psyche. 

Yellow -  A very invigorating color, yellow can also bring on anxiety.  Don't use it for high energy areas like the kitchen, but keep it to smaller areas like hallways or laundry rooms.  If you enjoy this color, opt for one with honey or golden tones.  This will add an elegance to the room

Red - Did you know research brought the use red for stop signs?  Red literally tells the brain to slow down.  It's often used in bars, casinos and restaurants to keep customers engaged and remove any feeling of being rushed.  Red is perfect for dining rooms and sexy reds, like the color of Merlot, is soothing in the bedroom.

Blue - It's not a stretch to understand that blue is a calming color.  It's the color of the sea and the sky.  Be careful that the blue you select isn't what I like to call "little boys room" blue, but choose a turquoise or navy for large rooms.  Blue is also an appetite suppressant.  When was the last time you ate blue food?

Green - Again a color associated with nature,  greens make us feel secure and tranquil.  Green is not a good color for skin tones, so shy away from using it in a bathroom or bedroom where you look in the mirror.  However, mossy green is a great neutral, while apple green feels fresh and clean.

Brown - Another color that prompts comfort and security, brown really runs the spectrum from organic to muddy.  Don't use a dark brown in small rooms, it only intensifies the feeling of claustrophobia.  But a light brown, like soft suede is very conducive to dens or home offices as it cuts down on eye fatigue.

Don't let the paint color you choose have the wrong effect.  That pink in the store can look like Pepto-Bismol in your bedroom.  Terra Cotta might seems like the perfect selection for that Italian look, but can be dreary and depressing when it surrounds you.

The next time you are stymied and overwhelmed with the choices at your local paint store, think beyond what might be netural or safe.  Color is a psychological tool and can hugely affect your mood and life.  Use it well. - SEW

An established Interior Designer for over 20 years, Steve Wallace Design is based in Walnut Creek, California.  His work has appeard in Palm Springs Life and other interior design publications, and he is the author of a soon to be published book about design and the way we live.  He can be reached at  925 915 1005, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit www.SteveWallaceDesign.com.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 28 November 2012 07:40)



0 #2 James Tobiason 2012-03-26 14:12
Steve--- When I was taking Psych 101, about a hundred years ago, the prof told us about a colleague who specialized in the psychology of color and worked in private industry as a consultant, making beaucoup bucks. Very interesting log!
Take care,
0 #1 Marcella Ruch 2012-03-18 22:24
Writing well must run in the family. What a nice bunch of comments on color.

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