Making Color Make Sense

200376726-001.jpgSpring is officially here, and we’re feeling the itch to freshen up our lives and our moods! And, I know I’m not alone here. The thought of opening my windows, feeling the breeze and the warmth of the sun, makes me gladly want to open my arms to welcome the new growth around me that feels oh so good…but, wait a minute! The inside of my house still feels a bit sad, leftover from these dreary winter months. The seasonal colors traditionally used for the winter months are warm and make you want to burrow into your blankets by a fire, but that all changes once the sun breaks through and the green begins emerging.

I look around my house thinking, “What do I do? What could I do to easily and affordably freshen up this house, the moods surrounding me, and my mood?” And you’re probably wondering the same thing…
Color! That makes sense! Paint is fairly inexpensive and transforms a room more quickly than anything else. Plus, you don’t always have to paint the entire room!

Think about how you would like to feel in your home. Let me help by asking this: When you think about different colors, how do they make you feel? Relaxed, comfortable, energized, peaceful, refined, or restful? How do you personally want to feel in your home, or what type of feeling would you want your home to present? Colors definitely hold a significant psychological value in our lives and in our surroundings — just as a red vehicle would make you feel sportier than the same vehicle would in the color tan, and so on. It would sure make me feel sportier! To have a beautiful home, you don’t have to worry about trends or the newest fashion unless that’s what your personal taste is. Color trends come and go. You make it beautiful by choosing colors that reflect your likes and your personality. The key is to blend them into pleasing combinations.

Now, onto the main event! Let’s look at how color affects our moods, makes an impression, and visually changes the whole look of a room or piece of furniture:

BLUE is considered calming, relaxing, and serene because it brings down blood pressure and slows respirations and heart rates. But be careful when choosing a blue — avoid one that comes across as a bit too chilly, or one that is too dark and evokes feelings of sadness.

PURPLE in its darkest values are rich and sophisticated, associated with luxury. Use dark purples when wanting to create a dramatic feel. When used as an accent, it adds depth to the scheme. Lavenders and lilacs bring the same calming effect as blue without the risk of feeling chilly.

RED raises a room’s energy level and is a good choice for you entertainers who want to stir up some excitement! At night, the color will appear muted, rich, and elegant, but beware! It can also evoke feelings of irritability.

ORANGE is an energetic color, and is used often for exercise rooms. It’s not recommended for a bedroom or living room where most people do actually want to rest!

YELLOW captures the joy of sunshine and communicates happiness. It is uplifting and energizing, and should be used in such common rooms as kitchens and dining areas. Use it in entries to make it feel more expansive and welcoming. Although it is known to be a cheerful color, it is not a good choice in main color schemes of a room. It can (but not always) create feelings of frustration and anger in people. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for your guest room! We want to keep them happy.

GREEN is considered the most restful color for the eye. It combines the refreshing quality of blue and the cheerfulness of yellow. It always gives a fresh, airy, feel to any space and encourages unwinding while providing enough warmth to promote comfort.

Reader Question: “It always seems as if colors are discussed when it comes to selecting wall colors, but what should I do about my very boring white ceiling?”

Designer Answer: That’s a great question the majority of people don’t normally think about! Color on ceilings has been very underrated. Ceilings represent one-sixth of the space in a room, and are usually sadly overlooked. For decades, white was commonly considered the best color for ceilings, but adding a touch of color to your ceilings can aid in the feel or mood you are striving to achieve in your space. You could select a ceiling color that is the same hue as your wall color, but is a touch lighter than your walls. This will give the visual impression that the ceiling is higher. Darker ceilings do feel lower. Some of you out there who are claustrophobic may be feeling some anxiety coming on right now, but darker, visually lowered ceilings can evoke cozy intimacy. Darker colors would be suggested more for structurally higher ceilings, i.e. vaulted, trayed, cathedral, etc., while lighter colors would be better suited for lower ceilings. Either way, I do encourage you to add a touch of color! It will make the room feel more finished.

If you’d like to ask Laura Kirkpatrick, Allied ASID, a design question, please send an e-mail to You can also check out Laura’s Web site at

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