Lesson 1: The Meaning of Colors

By Susan Welch, ASID

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Many studies on color association have been done in the past to find out how colors affect people. A persons choice of color for their home depends on many things; trends, childhood influences, etc. Some of the more common beliefs on colors and moods are listed below.

Red expresses excitement, high energy, warmth and vibrancy. It is the strongest of all colors. It is a very stimulating and active color. It would be a beautiful color for an entrance hall or foyer. Warm reds are also inviting and intimate in the dining room.

Green represents nature, growth and relaxation. It is a soothing color and may remind us of rebirth. Green goes with almost any color and in its darker and more neutralized shades can be used as a neutral. A green kitchen feels fresh and clean.

Pink hints at trustworthiness, happiness, youth and sweetness. Pink is a very complementary color to skin tones and is an ideal color for the bath or powder room.

Blue reflects a calm, restful and relaxing environment. Blue is one of the most popular colors and tints of blue will make a room appear more spacious. Pale blue ceilings, such as a faux sky with clouds, are soothing especially in the bedroom.

Yellow represents happiness and optimism, however vivid and light tints can appear even brighter and more glaring than white. Yellow is an excellent color to use in a room that does not receive any natural daylight or in a dark hallway.

Brown conveys contentment and comfort. It is a subtle and masculine color and would be a perfect choice for a den or library.

Purple is a regal color which can denote nobility, dignity and luxury. Deep purple or plum is a wonderful color to have in a guest room to make your visitors feel like they are getting the "royal treatment."

Orange symbolizes spirit, warmth, comfort and action. Orange would be pleasing in a family room, but, an extremely vivid shade of orange can be tiring when used over a large surface.

Taupe communicates conservative thinking and is considered a very sophisticated color. A taupe living room will appear rich and glowing.

Black is bold, elegant, sophisticated and dominant. It looks great with white, gray and chrome. Black is used often in sleek and contemporary rooms.

White implies virtue, purity, cleanliness, spaciousness and innocence. White rooms tend to be very dramatic and create a feeling of quiet luxury. A master bedroom with large amounts of white could become your oasis from a hectic world.

Gray depicts a sedate, neutral and composed environment. Gray is a very appropriate color to use in a home/office office.

Of course, there are many different shades and tints of each of the previous colors and each will have it's own distinct personality. Designers should base their color selections on how their client feels about a particular color. One person may be energized by a room filled with bright vivid colors, another person may find the intense hues tiring.

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