Why do we feel at ease in one place but tense in other places? What makes us choose one product over others? Walls, architectural accents, products, really anything you can think of are all made more or less appealing with certain colors. Color psychology is the idea that color can have a significant effect on peoples’ moods and decisions. It’s a popular notion these days to plan your color choice around psychology but doing so can be difficult because the effects of color can be very subtle. Paint color use is important to us in our own homes and workplaces, so let’s talk about how to make an informed decision when starting a painting project.
Start with a small project
If you’re not sure where to begin with a big project, try to find a space that is small — like a bathroom, a small hallway, or an accent wall. If you’re doing the painting yourself, you will be able to finish the small area and see the results sooner. You’ll quickly find out if you love or hate the new color and won’t feel so bad about starting fresh if you aren’t pleased with the results. To get started, consider picking a favorite color or a color from a piece of art or furniture in the area. This color can be the main color or an accent color.
Consider the mood you want in the room
When making your color selection, think about the mood you want to induce in that particular room. For instance, in a bedroom, you might want the mood to be restful and subdued. Soft cool colors or neutral colors will help to create a more soothing feeling. But in a kitchen or living room, you might want a more dramatic feeling. Rich vibrant colors like reds and bright greens will help create a dramatic effect.
Perhaps you want your dining area to feel like a stimulating social space. Warmer contrasting bright colors will add to the stimulating nature of a room. To produce a more formal ambiance, you should consider deeper blues, greens, and more neutral colors.
For a child’s bedroom, intensely bright colors might create active and exciting energy. Alternatively, an orderly and restful feeling can be attained with more neutral and subdued colors.
Think about how the room is lit
Paint stores have lightbox displays to make it easy for you to test paint samples in a variety of lighting. Natural daylight will always show the truest color, so a room with lots of windows or a skylight will bring out the most accurate hues of each color choice. Incandescent lighting (from older style light bulbs) will exaggerate the warm tones and yellow hues of a paint choice. And fluorescent lighting (many light bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs nowadays) will add a distinctly blue tone to your color choice.
With these effects in mind, a strong color might be too much for a naturally lit room or a wall near a large window. But that same strong color might work very well on an accent wall that isn’t directly lit.
Understand color terminology
When choosing colors, it’s helpful to know the different terms used to describe colors.
- Hue is another name for color. Red, blue, yellow, green, and other color names are all hues.
- Value is a way to describe how light or dark a color is by measuring the amount of light reflected by the color.
- Color shades are created by adding black pigment to darken a particular hue.
- Color tints are created by adding white pigment to lighten a particular hue.
- Saturation measures how dominant a particular hue is. As paint goes from red to pink, the red hue becomes less dominant or less saturated.
- Intensity describes the brilliance of a color. Pure colors like red or blue are more intense than combine colors like yellow-green.
Play it safe and test your paint colors first
You can boost your confidence by painting a piece of poster board and hanging it on the wall before you make your decision. This way you can go outside of your comfort zone knowing that nothing is permanent. You will feel more free to experiment with bold color choices or softer deeper neutral colors you might not otherwise consider. Think about adding drama by changing a ceiling color in your favorite room. Tinted ceilings can dramatically change the look of a room.
Create depth with decorative finishes
Broken color patterns or visual textures can be added to walls to mute particular features or make other features stand out. Burnished mineral and metallic finishes will add depth to a room.
Consider adjoining rooms
Always remember to walk from room to room when making color choices. Keep in mind how colors will need to flow from one room to the next. You can usually see parts of adjoining rooms while sitting in each room, so a smooth transition is usually necessary.
Use a color wheel
A color wheel is a great tool for modifying or intensifying two or more colors. The wheel is useful for finding complementary colors or for dividing colors into cool and warm groups. Take a color wheel and draw a line between the yellow-green mark and the red-violet mark and you’ll see the colors on one side will all be warm while the other side is cool. Using a color wheel may help you find beautiful new color combinations or whole new pallets you hadn’t previously considered.
You might think only using one color could make for a dull room. But you can create bold or subtle variations within a single color group or by using contrasting paint finishes. Consider using three closely related colors or try a single color but it three different finishes for walls, trim, and ceilings in one space.
White or off-white accent colors can be striking when used on the trim in a monochromatic color group.
See our other article about understanding gloss and sheen to get an idea of how you can use paint finishes to provide a contrast between different features of a room.
If you’re considering having your space professionally painted, Rhodes Custom Finishes offers color consultations so that you can feel good knowing you’ve made the right color choice. Give us a call at 636-385-6655 to schedule your color consultation today.