study with green walls

For Consideration: The Power of Color

As we find ourselves relegated to the indoors and staring at our walls, many of us are probably noticing things we have dismissed or ignored. One of those things is paint, or more specifically, color.

Color is a powerful tool that can dramatically transform a space. It can enhance wellbeing, provide an infusion of energy, and emphasize points of interest. Yet, choosing the perfect hue can be quite challenging.

There are numerous factors that play into selecting this important design element. Not only do you need to consider the lighting and materials in your space; it has been shown that people rarely feel and view colors exactly the same way. Personal experiences may evoke specific emotional responses, and as color is energy (in the form of light waves), it can cause distinct physical reactions.

But do not despair. There are common properties and characteristics associated with each hue that can aid with your decision-making. Check out the following to understand how to harness the power of color and decide which may work best for your situation.

WARM COLORS provide energy; but may over-stimulate. Darker hues can make a cavernous/chilly room seem more intimate. Warm-colored walls advance because of light absorption — making rooms appear smaller. These colors quicken visual movement and are always good for eating areas.

COOL COLORS are generally calming; but used alone may seem cold and impersonal. Cool-colored walls do not absorb as much light, so rooms seem larger. These hues may appear more sluggish than warmer colors; and will not always hold a viewer’s attention. They are a great choice for use in restful areas.

PINK: Healthy, happy, sweet, playful

More widely accepted in all settings, not just feminine. Great as an accent or, in lighter shades, as a base color (think blush). Can uniquely provide warmth and personality.

This warm but sophisticated blush pink wall covering serves as a great contrast to dark wood and crisp white wainscot. Builder : BJ Drueding. Interiors : Joanne Bateman. Photography : Tom Crane.

RED: Energetic, passionate, attention-grabbing

This warm hue is shown to increase heart rate. Good for focal points. Not a lot is needed for impact. Can work in many rooms — but use judiciously in a bedroom for optimum sleep.

red walls and shelving
Our client took advantage of the opportunity to embrace a bold red in this smaller scale sitting room. In addition to serving as a striking background for art and objects, it creates a warm and energetic atmosphere conducive to lively conversation. Builder: E.B. Mahoney Builders. Photography: Tom Crane.

ORANGE: Lively, vital

Combines the cheer of yellow with the boldness of red. Stimulates appetite. Softer tones like peach can flatter a complexion so are great in salons, at vanities. Bolder tones are good for rec rooms.

orange walls
Invigorating orange plays a starring role in the color scheme of this home study; our client has to look no further than the walls for a dose of energy and inspiration. Builder: Providence One. Photography: Jim Graham.

YELLOW: Hopeful, happy, optimistic

The warmth in yellow stimulates creativity and energy; and is motivating. Try in a play space or kitchen. In big doses can overpower, so a lighter shade or a small amount can go a long way.

yellow kitchen
This cheery and bright kitchen and breakfast nook provides a sunny start to any day.

GREEN: Calming, fresh, serene

Symbolizes renewal and awakening. Darker shades imply affluence. Brings the outdoors in. Good in multiple settings like yoga studios, nurseries, libraries. A great marriage of a cool blue and warm yellow.

green walls and shelving in library
The gray-green in this library creates a serene setting perfect for relaxing with your favorite book. Builder: Cherokee Construction. Interiors: Jane Good Design. Photography: Angle Eye Photography.

TURQUOISE: Spiritual, healing, protective, sophisticated

Excellent range from deep to pastel. Interesting alternative to blues and greens.

turquoise walls in bedroom
An inviting fireplace nook set amid turquoise walls and window treatments creates a peaceful safe haven for relaxing and resetting.

BLUE: Trustworthy, secure, dependable, relaxing

This cool hue puts people at ease and creates a feeling of balance. Good for bedrooms. Known to decrease appetite.

blue walls in home office
The stately all-blue custom millwork of this home office sets the tone for getting some serious work done. Builder: Pohlig Custom Homes. Interiors: Patricia Gorman Associates, Inc. Photography: Tom Crane.

PURPLE: Mysterious, sophisticated, spiritual, royal

Historically, the most expensive pigment, considered exclusive. Today it is readily available and extremely versatile. Exudes the warmth of red and coolness of blue.

purple butlers pantry
You’ll feel positively regal storing your wares in this sophisticated and highly functional butler’s pantry done in a high-gloss aubergine. Builder: Providence One.

BROWN: Richly earthy, uncomplicated, durable, secure

Can be soft and relaxing or dogmatic and conservative. Popular in dens and living rooms.

family room done in brown shades
Think brown is boring? Think again! Interior designer Tammy Connor uses shades of brown in a variety of textures and patterns to create a comfortable and cozy family room. Builder: Worthington Shagen Custom Builder. Photography: Tom Crane.

TAN/BEIGE: Dependable, flexible, crisp, conservative

Popular neutral. Can range from warm to cool; use to contrast or as a tried-and-true all-over treatment. Some feel it is too safe, but it can go with most anything.

dining room in gray and tan
Beige walls share the stage in this stunning all-neutral dining room. Builder: Dewson Construction. Interiors: Bunny Williams Interior Design. Photography: Francesco Lagnese.

GRAY: Reliable, intelligent, secure

Another popular and versatile neutral, whether warm or cool. Depending on usage, may read gloomy or oppressive. Mixes great with metals, materials, and a wide range of colors.

pale gray master bedroom with vaulted ceiling
Soft gray walls and furnishings in this airy master bedroom create a calm and secure oasis for rest. Interiors: Builder: Pohlig Custom Homes. Patricia Gorman Associates, Inc. Photography: Tom Crane.

BLACK: Timeless, sophisticated, expensive-looking, chic

Try it as a wall color, not just an accent. And, the finish (flat, eggshell, high gloss, etc.) can significantly change its character.

study with black walls
Black walls and custom millwork create a dramatic and chic atmosphere in this home study. Builder: Dewson Construction. Interiors: Bunny Williams Interior Design. Photography: Francesco Lagnese.

WHITE: Pure, clean, soft, classic

Like black, white provides excellent contrast and can function superbly as a backdrop. Sets a clean, unobtrusive slate for furnishings and art. Layer various tones and textures to avoid a cold and sterile feeling.

bathroom with white cabinets, walls and countertops and hardwood floor
All-white kitchens and bathrooms remain popular and with good cause; crisp walls, cabinets, shelving and fixtures create a sense of purity and cleanliness perfect for these types of rooms. Builder: Griffiths Construction. Interiors: Barbara Gisel Design. Photography: Jeffrey Totaro.
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