“Color is one of the great things in the world; that makes life worth living to me.” –Painter Georgia O’Keefe
In part one of this blog, we started looking at the characteristics of different colors and the feelings and emotions they inspire when painted on the walls in your home. Now, we’ll examine more variations on color psychology in the home, including the best colors room-by-room, and other tips how to use color to positively affect your family’s moods and emotions.
Here are some great colors to use by room:
You want comfort, familiarity, and conversation in this living space, so try warm tones like reds, yellows, and oranges, and natural earth tones like brown and beige, or even gray. You’ll also want to take a good look at the furniture, rugs, window coverings, and accent pieces like pillows that you plan to use in your living room, as you want colors that complement each other and a balance between vibrancy and more muted tones as a backdrop.
The foyer is actually a great place to introduce people inside your home, creating a smooth transition by blending your exterior house color with the colors they’ll find in your living room, hallways, and other interior areas. This can be done not only with paint but the decorations, picture frames, light fixture, or other elements you use.
The kitchen is probably the most popular common area in your home, and the one that truly denotes family, togetherness, and even brings up memories of childhood. Therefore, some people feel really great walking into a kitchen that is painted the same as the kitchen or walls of the childhood home they grew up in. Additionally, subtle reds, burnt oranges, and yellows are ideal colors for a kitchen because they actually stimulate appetite (that’s why every fast food restaurant uses that color scheme!) While many people paint their kitchen off-white or some sort of tan, you may find that a little bland and uninspiring in the best room of the house.
Once again, red shades work great in the dining room because they are energetic, signal food time to our minds, and also stimulate conversation. But break up the walls in your dining room with chair rail, wallpaper, an accent wall, or something to make it more visually interesting than just blank painted walls.
The bedroom should be relaxing, calming, and invite slumber – but you might also want colors that help you feel romantic when the time is right. How can you find that balance? Use hues that are deeper and darker, whether they’re navy blues, forest greens, or dark gray. If it’s a small bedroom, yellow will make it look bigger, and for those romantic feelings, try a rich lavender, but you’ll probably want to avoid red since it’s an energizing color.
When we’re in a bathroom, we want to automatically think light, fresh, breezy…and clean! For that reason, whites and off-whites work great in the bathroom, where they denote cleanliness and purity. That’s the psychology behind bathroom fixtures, too, as you’ll notice a lot of them come in white because it’s easier to clean – and look spotless. For a children’s bathroom, you can have more fun with yellows, turquoise, or other light and bright shades.
There are really no rules when painting your children’s bedrooms, and often you’ll end up using a color palette from their favorite Disney movie, superhero, etc. But just make sure they are not the brightest of shades because that may actually deter them from falling asleep.
You want to feel energized, motivated and full of vigor in your home workout room, but the traditional reds and oranges that stimulate can also make you feel hot, and cramped in a smaller space. So try blues, greens, or yellows in your workout room to stay energetic, but also happy and positive.
Your home workspace shouldn’t be serious but not solemn, calming but not relaxing. You want to be able to focus and get productive in your home office without feeling it’s too dark or even making you tired. So try a nice sage green, which is the color of concentration, or mature navy blues for rooms with good natural light. Of course, you’ll want to find your office desk or shelving as the centerpiece and then match the wall colors to complement those pieces.
Here are some more rapid-fire tips for painting the walls of your home, or adding any colorful elements and decorations:
Is your home a little short on square footage, has small rooms, or slightly low ceilings? You can create the illusion of more space by using bright, airy colors like off-whites, yellows, etc. in an eggshell or satin sheen. But plan old white won’t create that same effect.
Studies show that complex colors and patterns actually appeal to homeowners and guests with higher education levels, while simple colors appeal to “lower budgets and lower education levels.”
Use colors from your past: Many color consultants will say that using familiar colors from your childhood that remind you of fond memories – especially in the kitchen – can bring those memories back and create a pleasant mood. If you can’t remember any colors from your kitchen when you were growing up, just remember that reds and yellows are perfect for playful yet sophisticated kitchens.
Match the paint color to how you’ll use the particular room, using relaxing and calming colors in bedrooms and places your family likes to lounge (like around the fireplace), but bold and vibrant colors that incite energy and conversation.
Research shows that strong red colors actually can increase high blood pressure, as well as promoting hunger, so you might want to skip the red if you have health issues or on a diet.
Be careful with purple, as it’s not a color that’s typically found in nature, so it usually doesn’t give a room a genuine, warm feeling. Only use lighter shades of lavender sparingly in rooms with a lot of natural light.
Likewise, the color brown can easily dominate a room, turning it dark and morose. In fact, psychologists say that the color brown can actually cause depression in some people. Use off-whites with hints of tan or beige instead of full-on browns, and you’ll notice the room remains light, classy, and the white baseboards and trim really POP!
Yellow is a powerful color, inspiring optimism, positivity, and good feelings – probably because it’s the “color” of the sun and sunlight!
Want to add some strong red color without painting your whole room that shade? Add distressed brick veneers to a wall or backsplash, and you’ll be amazed how much it grounds and solidifies the space.
Use the color pink in your meditation, yoga, or zen room – that color has been proven to inspire tranquility and relaxation. In fact, some sports teams have tried painting the visiting locker room pink because it depletes energy!
If in doubt, use colors from nature and you’ll always feel centered and positive in your home.
Not only do you have a lot of colors and shades to choose from, but also sheens – which is how shiny the paint appears. The spectrum of sheens may vary slightly depending on the brand of paint, but they usually start with flat, then eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and then gloss. Dens, offices, living rooms and hallways may be flat, kitchens and bathrooms eggshell or satin, and trim like door casings and baseboards are typically semi-gloss.
When picking a color off of a small swatch or display in the paint store, remember that it will always look much brighter and bolder on an entire wall. It’s a good idea to avoid primary colors and go with subtle shades.
You can buy a quart of the paint color and try it out on your wall for a week to see how it feels, and then buy the gallons you need to paint the whole room. By the way, always buy extra paint, mix it all together in a bigger bucket because each gallon may have tiny color variations, and always label the can before storing it in your garage!