October 19, 2008

Color 101, why you eat the large fries instead of the small

I have been holding on to a Pier 1 gift card for a few months, as the past few times I've been in the store, nothing in particular jumped out at me saying "buy me!". Today, was a different story as I walked out with 3 new throw pillow's for our living room; navy, hunter green, and ivory with a blue coral pattern. Now I have too many throw pillows (8 in total), but that's for another post for another day :-)

I started to think about why and how we're drawn to certain colors, and it took me back to my first day in design school during our color theory 101 class. Ever color carries with it a tendency, feeling, it's own personality. A certain color you wear can actually change your core body temperature. Yes, I know it's hard to believe but its true.

For example, for about the past year or so, I've been decorating our main floor, living/dining room in a combination of blue, green, and even dark purple accents. I've chosen the blue and green simply because both provide a calm, relaxed, clean feeling, in any room. The purple is found only on a candle I have, mixed in with some other neutrals, but it's just enough for the space.

Every color provides a feeling, and even a purpose. Here's a short list of the more popular colors, have a look, and maybe you are choosing that fuchsia slipper chair for a reason.

Cool Colors: blue, green, turquoise, silver

All of these colors have a very calm, and relaxed feeling to them, and are often used in that applications, such as in bedrooms, ocean-side hotels, and outdoors on front porches and patios.

These same colors can provide the opposite feeling as well, cold and impersonal, sometimes blue, or "feeling blue" is associated with depression. No, I'm not saying that if you paint your house blue you'll become depressed, but for a persona that has a very busy and hectic lifestyle, painting a room the right shade of blue, or the right combination of cool colors can provide that person with the space they need to unwind, and relax.

I think I started to use blue's and green's to calm down our own home. My husband and I have very busy lifestyles and our home is where we relax and wind down. Just the right shade of blue helps us do that.

Warm Colors: red, pink, yellow, gold, orange

Warm colors are exciting, bright, and happy. If you were to wear a red sweater, or t-shirt, your core body temperature would actually increase. Red instills confidence, power, and boldness. My mother always told me to put a red sweater on if I was down in the dumps to help to lift my spirits, the scary part, is that it usually works.

Orange is known as a stimulant..it motivates emotions and even your appetite. Ever wonder why the Harvey's fast food chain in Canada had orange decor for so many years? Do you wonder how the small fries you wanted initially turned into a large? With gravy? That's right, orange makes you hungry.

Mixed Cool/Warm Colors: Purple, lavender, green, turquoise

This color group can be used in almost any space, as it will go almost anywhere holding both cool and warm color attributes. These colour both warm and excite the senses.

Turquoise makes me think of the Caribbean sea, but also the warm sun the Caribbean provides.

Neutral Colours: black, brown, gray, white, beige, ivory

These colors, I will admit are ones that I am most comfortable with, but in what I wear, and in my own personal home.

All of our furniture is neutral; khaki sofa, dark brown coffee table, dark brown dining set, etc. These colours to me are very natural, and remind me of the outdoors.

Neutrals help us to focus on other colors in a space, and to even tone down colors that may be overpowering on their own. For example, you may have a large piece of artwork you would like as your focal point in a room, the artwork using a very bold colors such blood red, and burnt orange. If you pair that painting with a red sofa, the red in the painting will blend with the sofa, creating a softer impact than if you paired that artwork with a neutral colored sofa. The neutral sofa, in a neutral room would make that piece of artwork your focal point.


There are countless textbooks written on the theory of color, too many to count. All I can suggest, is when choosing a color, go with your gut, and go with what makes you happy. It's your home, and it should look & feel exactly the way YOU want it too.

all images above from Domino Magazine


Rita vindedzis said...

Thanks for this very informative post. I think my color choices tend to be very intuitive and in reading this it reminds me why I naturally gravitate to certain colors. I prefer neutrals in my furnishings and wall colors and like to get my pop of color with artwork and accessories.

zeniamai said...

When designing, I tend to stay on the safe side even when picking the paints for our house renovation. This post opened my eyes to the different color combinations I can add to our kitchen and to my room... :)