Use of Color In Your Interior Space

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“Don’t be afraid to use color in your home. By following a few simple rules you can really bring your space to life. Do yourself a favor and don’t beigify!”

The use of color in your interior and exterior space should be considered carefully as color creates strong physical and psychological responses in people. Warm and cool palettes in all shades cause different emotions and reactions and set the tone for your environment. This article provides a basic primer on internal use of color in your home to get you started.

1. The first thing to consider when designing for color in your space is to ask, “What do you want to draw attention to?” In the picture to the left, you can see that the contrast of a solid red wall accentuates and emphasizes the pale blue and neutrals of this antique painting. There are two paintings in this dining room by the same artist that the home owner’s wanted to highlight. A neutral or cool color would have washed the paintings out, but the red makes them stand out in vibrant contrast. This is the perfect example of using color to accentuate objects with less color.

2. In contrast, a neutral painted room can be enlivened by objects of many colors. As you can see in the pictures to the right and below, neutral walls of pale blue and pale yellow can be highlighted and enlivened by the addition of numerous, bright colored objects to enhance the space. A good rule of thumb is to stick to a minimum of 3 and maximum of 5 colors in a room. Here you can see the bright orange and green set against the light blue, and turquoise blue, bright yellow and reds set against the pale yellow. The combinations are inviting, stunning and eye-catching. You can also see the wonderful use of House Plants throughout this home that help add life and color (not to mention the brilliant taste in artwork). The use of stained glass lighting is also a wonderful use of color.

3. Colors are generally divided into warm and cool palettes. Red, Orange and Yellow are warm while Green, Blue and Purple are cool. Pinks are considered cool colors, too, and Whites, Blacks and Browns are neutral. Warm colors induce feelings of joy, happiness, cheerfulness, warmth (of course) and are felt as comforting and inviting. Intense, bold, bright warm colors can create intense emotions such as excitement, passion and anger. Cool colors induce feelings of calm, relaxation, stability, clarity, purity and imagination. Neutral colors are just that- neutral- and should be used as a base to build upon with other colors. Keep in mind that most neutrals (like most colors) have either a cool or warm base, and should be chosen accordingly depending on what colors you want to add to the space (i.e. a cool based neutral should be used with mostly cool accent colors and a few warm colors for pop). Definitely mix cool and warm palettes in your rooms. Many of the combinations you see in these photos do just that – blue and yellow, orange and green, green and red.

4. Certain colors are more appropriate in particular rooms of the house, depending on the environment you want to create.
Reds
stimulate appetite (as with the red dining room wall above). So, if you’re dieting or want to eat smaller portions consider softer, soothing, pale, cool colors.
Orange is perceived as a refreshing color and stimulates thirst.
Yellows (the most difficult color for the eye to perceive) boost energy and attract attention. A great color for a morning breakfast room to wake you up.
Greens are relaxing and comforting and assist with concentration. It is a great color for a home office or study.
Blues are a comforting color, calming to the mind and body, and promote trust making it an ideal color for a bedroom or meditation space. It also helps create the illusion of larger space and a can be used to enlarge small rooms.
Purple enhances fantasy, romance and imagination making it perfect for bedrooms and creative, inspiring spaces. Purple is also known to suppress appetite, making it a good dining room color.

5. Don’t be afraid to use color in your home. By following a few simple rules you can really bring your space to life. Do yourself a favor and don’t beigify! Your home is an external reflection of your soul. Are you dull and uninteresting? No! So, you don’t want your home to be. Allow your space to reflect the truth inside of you. With a little more color you can’t go wrong.

*I am currently in a rental in the city, saving up money to buy a house and, as a result, many of my belongings are packed away in storage. Luckily, I have friends with remarkable taste that allowed me to photograph their home for this piece. Many thanks to Tim and Brian!

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