You do not have to select trendy colors for your home. They should be right for your environment, especially your lighting conditions. And they should be right for you and your lifestyle. The "Today's Home"™ show on May 8 featured a discussion about color, with guests Teresa Tullio and Nancy Alwin (both are certified color consultants). We talked about the importance of color in our built environment, and why light and color are important, inseparable elements of our lives (listen to podcast).
Awareness of colors' effects on us has been documented back to early Chinese and Egyptian civilizations; they were the first to use chromatherapy. Johann Wolfgang Goethe connected colors and psychology in his 1810 book, "Theory of Colours". Faber Birren's book "Color Psychology and Color Therapy" was first published in 1950. Both books are still used in art and interior design classes. For this article, I'm using pigmented colors for reference. Pigmented colors are called "subtractive". Here are some guidelines to help you select color schemes for your home, based on the compass orientation of the interior rooms you want to paint:
► North and East exposures: Select warmer colors (i.e., red, yellow and orange) to balance the natural coolness of the daylight (blue). These colors include wood, because most wood is brown (achieved by mixing yellow and red, with a touch of green). It's okay (and recommended) to use cool colors for accents.
► South and West exposures: Select cooler colors (i.e., blue, purple and green) to balance the natural warmth of the daylight (yellow-orange). If you're using a lot of wood, avoid yellow or orange wood (maple, birch, bamboo, teak), and try to select cooler and darker wood colors (mahogany and cherry). It's okay to use warm colors for accents, but they should be used very sparingly.
Cool colors are often described as calming, but can evoke psychological responses of sadness or indifference. Cool, light colors will make a room appear larger (or a ceiling higher), because they seem to recede.
Dark colors absorb light, while light colors reflect light. The colors you choose could easily affect how much energy you use to light your home. When choosing paint, look at the light reflectance value (LRV). A room where you intend to cook, read, sew, use power tools, or use a computer should have a higher LRV than a sleeping room.
Be careful about using pure colors (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and purple) for walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, or large accessories, because they will dominate the room. Most paint colors are mixes of multiple pigments to achieve a "livable" look. Dramatic colors should be used only in powder rooms or dining rooms. It's been popular to paint one interior wall a totally different color, but this should be done carefully to avoid creating an artificial focal point, or accentuating a room's proportions.
Complementary colors (red/green, blue/orange, yellow/purple) should not be used equally. If both of the colors are pure (saturated), and similar in intensity (value), they will appear to vibrate. When complementary pigments are mixed, the colors cancel each other out to achieve gray or black.
Some people have been blessed with perfect pitch. I was blessed with color memory, which used to drive my mother crazy when we went shopping. "Can we get this sweater, ple-e-e-ase? It will go with my [color] skirt." Sure enough, if she bought the sweater, it would be an exact match, or blended beautifully with the skirt. The same thing would happen when she was decorating a room. No, she never asked my advice, but I'd give it anyway, especially if she was making a mistake. Neither of us understood why my recommendations were correct until I started attending interior design school. I had a natural talent, but had to learn the theories to become an expert. Anyone can have an opinion or give advice, but if the opinion or advice comes from a professional, it should be supported with reasons, based on education, training, and experience.
Get more information about color in an article on the D. P. Design website.
If you would like to get more information about updating or remodeling your home office, kitchen, bathroom, or color palette, I'm offering a FREE 45-minute phone consultation to help you.
© 2011 Diane Plesset – All Rights Reserved
We apologize, but due to pressing commitments, we are temporarily discontinuing live shows. Please do visit the podcast page, and enjoy our archived shows.
Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved.