Using color psychology in the home

Phantom Screens / May 1, 2015

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Deciding on the perfect color for your living room can often involve countless chip samples, many trial-sized paint cans and a lot of squinting. While many approach color from a sense of aesthetics or intuition, there is a more scientific approach that may help you get started down the road of bolder and more exciting color palettes. Color psychology is the branch of science that seeks to understand how different colors affect our mental state. By applying its principles to your interior decorating, you can have a profound influence not only on how the room looks, but also on the emotional well-being of your family.

Playing with space

The colors you choose for your room will inevitably have an effect on how large or small it feels. When confronted with a smaller room, many choose to use darker shades of navy, maroon or mahogany to give the space a cozy, intimate feel. These deep, rich colors are especially effective in libraries and studies where you are trying to create a private space to be alone with your thoughts.

Lighter shades, on the other hand, will create an airy atmosphere making the room feel much more expansive than it actually is. Living rooms and dining rooms benefit from off-white shades such as bone and eggshell, as well as very pale yellows as these colors make the room feel open, inviting guests to engage in conversation and creating a general sense of conviviality.

Calming the children

The color you choose for your child’s room or play area can have a stark effect on their disposition. For example, reds have always been associated with fiery passion and excitement. This may be good for an accent color in the playroom as it will excite the imagination. However, too much and it may begin to incite aggressive behaviors. Yellow is a good choice for inspiring concentration as well as a bright, cheery demeanor. Err on the side of paler yellows, as the more vibrant shades can be too overwhelming, especially for children. Greens and blues are great for inspiring feelings of calmness and serenity. They are known to reduce anxiety and promote a more balanced sense of self. Keep these traits in mind when choosing a color for your child’s room.

Outdoor Living Spaces

Color need not be limited to the indoors. In fact, outdoor living spaces often offer some of the best opportunities for creative color use. The first place to look to inject a little bit of color into your patio or deck is your furniture upholstery. Thanks to advances in technology, outdoor fabrics now come in a wide range of fade-resistant colors and patterns. Try matching these with any colorful blooms you may be growing in your garden. Note that because green is often the dominating color of a landscape, any color palette you choose will have to account for this. For example, because reds are complementary to greens, any red accents you have in your outdoor design is going to stand out quite strongly.

Light and color

Our perception of color is wholly dependent on the amount of light in a room. Therefore, it is always important to test out your chosen color with trial paint before you buy gallons of it. The more light there is, the more of the color you will perceive, in lower light, the color will seem washed out or grayed. Use this fact to your advantage to create dramatic tonal shifts in various parts of your home. And finally, never underestimate the power of a nice neutral gray or beige thrown into the mix.