Color can have a powerful impact on our mood. Light is absorbed by the eye and converted into a form of energy, which enables us to see color. This energy stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, which affects hormones and other physiological systems in the body.
This isn’t to say you’ll always feel calm in a blue room or sociable in a room that is painted bright orange, but a wealth of scientific research validates that colors — to some extent — have an undeniable effect on our feelings. So it goes without saying that choosing the paint scheme for your primary living space is a big decision! Here are some tips to help you choose.
Consider what moods certain colors represent.
University of British Columbia researchers found the following associations:
- Red – Alertness, Focus, Loving, Less Likely To Take Risks
- Blue – Tranquil, Creative, More Likely To Take Risks
- Green – Nature, Calm, Soothing, Wide Open Spaces
- Yellow – Intelligence, Inspiration, Pleasant
- Gray – Slow-Moving, Peaceful, Calm
- Orange – Sociable, Togetherness, Busy
Generally speaking, “warmer” tones fit with spaces like living rooms, dining rooms, kids’ play rooms and kitchens, while “cooler” tones are more suitable for bedrooms and bathrooms.
Take inspiration from your favorite fabric.
One of the interior decorator secrets is to use fabrics to tie rooms together or bring harmony to a space. For instance, in this photo, the silver from the accent pillow makes a nice matching color shade for the wall. The beige/gold mirror and artwork can make a good accent wall color in the adjacent dining room.
Consider the amount of natural lighting in the room.
- A north-facing room adds a touch of blue to produce a warming effect. Dark colors are darker. Light colors are more subdued.
- A south-facing room will receive the most intense light. Dark Colors are brighter. Light colors (especially white) appear washed-out.
- A west-facing room will have warmth from the evening sunset. Orange, red, or yellow rooms may appear more deeply saturated.
- An east-facing room will add a bit of green to the walls, which has a brightening effect, especially in the morning. Cheery yellows work best here.
Pay attention to undertones.
When ignored or poorly matched, undertones can create dissonance in your home, leaving the rooms of your house looking odd and completely unrelated. For example, some blues lean more toward purple or red, while others lean more toward green or yellow. This also explains why there can be different shades of white. As you can see below, cool or warm undertones change the hue considerably.
Warm undertones include red, orange red, orange, yellow orange, yellow and yellow green. Cool tones include green blue green, blue, blue purple, purple, and red purple. Paint manufacturers have made the process of choosing an undertone easier by creating color palettes that follow the same undertone family.
Consider flow — how the colors of neighboring rooms affect each other.
According to Sherry Petersik at YoungHouseLove.com, “Repeating a color across the house isn’t weird — it’s smart. Making your master bedroom the same color as your entryway is a great way to take your house ‘full circle’ so things feel like they’re part of a bigger picture. We use 80 percent of our home’s colors in at least two spaces (sometimes three) and the result is a nice layered and serene feeling.” Sherry adds that you can also slide one tone lighter or darker on the color swatch when you want varied interest with a cohesive feel.
Consider accent walls to achieve a more interesting look.
Using intensely colored accent walls can make a wall look more stand-out and change the entire shape of the room. They break up that traditional feel with a design style that is a little more artsy and avant-garde. You can use the color of your accent wall in other rooms to create continuity, as the photo above clearly shows.
Now that you have a good idea of where to start, try Benjamin Moore’s “Personal Color Viewer,” which lets you upload a photo of your room and “test-drive” different paint colors on the walls! You can also visit the Bill Beazley Design Center for inspiration. We’d love to help you recreate your space. We also have references for reputable, affordable painting contractors if you need them.