When picking out your paint, it's not just about how well it matches your couch or curtains, but about how the colors make you feel. The meanings colors have are less subjective than you might think. You can use the emotions certain colors tend to evoke to create a specific mood in every space.
Red is a high-energy color. It's passionate, excitable and romantic. In deeper hues, it's a perfect accent (or main color if you're that bold) for a steamy bedroom. In brighter tones and small doses, it makes for an eye-catching pop of color in a seldom-used or walk-through room (like a hallway or foyer). Since it stimulates the appetite, it can also be effective in a kitchenette.
Warm, welcoming and contemplative, a deep reddish-brown is best for a guest room or any place you go to relax without sleeping (a woman's study or library, for example).
Brown is earthy and natural. It's the very definition of reliable. However, men are more likely than women to list it as a favorite color and some people find it a bit sad or wistful. This color is best to create a masculine room, but be careful to balance dark colors with light accents and furniture. It can also be used with pale pinks, greens and blues to add a level earthiness to a woman's room.
Did you say energetic, bright, cheerful and optimistic? That's yellow. But use it sparingly. People lose their tempers more frequently (and babies cry more) around this powerful color. On the bonus side, less harsh shades do increase levels of concentration (which is why legal pads come in canary). Try yellow in rooms that would otherwise be dreary and keep them out of the bedroom and nursery.
In contrast to its close cousin, yellow, a golden color is warm, welcoming and sophisticated. It symbolizes wealth and prosperity. It makes a luxurious guest powder room and can be an elegant theme for a formal dining room. It's likely to make people feel very formal unless used in moderation, though, so be careful in a space where relaxation and comfort is a must.
Greens of almost any hue are calming and natural. It's the most popular decorating color for a reason. Because it's so calming, performers and talk show guests often sit in a "green room" as they await their turn on the stage. Paint your room green if you want an oasis from the chaos of the outside world. It's most appropriate for living rooms and kitchens.
Purple is the color of royalty and magic. While it's a popular color in its most bold tones for creative and artistic types, it should be used sparingly, as it often comes off as artificial or overbearing. In lighter shades like lavender, it can be a sweet and romantic color for a kitchen or little girl's room.
In its lighter colors, blue is soothing, cool and tranquil. It's often used in classrooms because it calms learners (and suppresses the appetite, an added bonus when some students have to wait until afternoon to eat lunch). Use blue in any room to create a relaxing atmosphere that isn't likely to put people to sleep. If your child has behavioral issues or problems focusing on homework, it's the perfect choice for their bedroom walls.
Peach colors are warm, delicate and happy. It's a peachy color for a little girl's room, but use it sparingly in rooms (like bedrooms or bathrooms) where adults get dressed in the morning. It makes your skin look great, but can fool the eye when you're applying makeup.
A cooler neutral, gray is stylish and sophisticated. When people think gray, they think steely and masculine, but a warmer gray can be used with pinks and other feminine colors to create an ultra-modern, ultra-feminine environment.
Fresh and clean, white makes any room seem refreshing and inviting. It's best in bedrooms and bathrooms, especially paired with primary colors (red, blue and yellow). The big drawback to white is that it's hard to keep clean. Scuffs from shoes and little hands against the walls will show quickly and these areas must be cleaned and repainted frequently.
Pink can be soft and sweet, romantic and tranquil and even a bit juvenile, depending on what shade you choose. Bright pinks are fun in little girls' rooms, though lighter colors are preferable in an adult woman's bedroom or guest bathrooms. But beware: Pink is another color that will fool your eye as you apply makeup, so don't use it in a room where you're likely to do that.
Black is a bold choice to be sure, especially when used as a main color rather than as an accent, but it can make large rooms with a lot of natural light seem more cozy and is an excellent choice for creating a more sophisticated man-cave when paired sparingly with lush and well-thought-out furnishings.
Avoid trendy colors unless you just love them or plan to update and repaint often."Don't let the salespeople convince you that you want [a particular designer color]," advises Broc Clark of Bróc Interiors in Dallas, Texas. After all -- you're the one who will be living in the space, not them! "Get a color you like and will like for a long time."
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