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The “Psychology” Behind Color

“Feeling blue...” “green with envy...” red
with rage...” “mellow yellow...” “in the pink...
These age-old expressions say it all! Nothing
touches our senses and affects our moods
more than color. Color -- with
it’s various hues, tints, tones and shades --
paints the emotional canvas of our daily

Color can stir memories from childhood,
charge our spirit and change our outlook.
Notice how you feel when it rains for
several days in a row. You may feel listless,
or your usual pep and enthusiasm wane.
Some people go from unmotivated to
downright glum. But when the sun finally
comes out, it seems as if everything has
turned to spun gold. Suddenly, nothing is
as bad as it was yesterday. Our energy
returns and our optimism e as close to the
beginning of the project as possible. “From
a technical point of view, you have to let
the electricians know where you’ll be wanting,for example, recessed ceiling lights and/or junction (or fixture) boxes. Ceilings should be thick enough or have enough space above them to accommodate the height of recessed light fixtures. And electrical wall sconces and some types of swing arm

Ah... Color! It can soothe or irritate... calm or invigorate. Color can bring a sense of peace -- or stir up a sudden passion. Color can inspire creativity or distract. Color can encourage warm conversation or a heated argument! Color carries the power to lift our spirits, express our personalities and, some say,
even heal. So use it wisely! lamps require junction boxes, which are cut right into the walls behind them.” “From a design perspective,” she continues, “light distinguishes tasks and purpose by its pure presence and level of intensity. Much like color. So it is little wonder that lighting is as soars. That is the power of color.

From the objects we surround ourselves with, to the clothes we wear, to the paint we choose for our walls, all have a profound effect on how we think about ourselves and the world around us.

Color has the same effect on a room or space, too. It can transform a cold, dreary home into an inviting, warm climate. It can inject excitement and fun into an ambiance awash with indifference. It can even change the perceived size of a room, dramatically taking it from small and cramped to sweeping and spacious. Color can transform a plain, unadorned room into a cozy, intimate gathering place. And... just as in the world of fashion and beauty, color, cleverly applied, can emphasize good points and camouflage the undesirable in a room or space.

Gaining a deeper knowledge of color -- and its power to influence -- can bring you the kind of lasting results that go well beyond decor.What follows is a fun guide to today’s popular colors and the images and feelings they commonly invoke:

Red • Love • Power • Heat • Roses • Blood • Strength

Orange • Pumpkins • Goldfish • Marigolds • Sunsets •
Fall Leaves • Rust

Green • Grass • Ferns • Cool • Calm • Growth • Mint
Ice Cream

Blue • Sea • Sky • Cold • Sadness • Intelligence • Birds

Purple • Violets • Heather • Mourning • Luxury •
Passion • Royalty

Pink (pale) • Softness • Piglets • Strawberry Ice Cream •
Roses • Sea Shells • Clouds

Pink (hot) • Tropics • Celebration • Exotic Flowers •
Lipstick • Lobsters • Heart

Yellow • Sunshine • Gold • Daffodils • Ducklings •
Primroses • Warmth

Brown • Wood • Dogs • Earth • Comfort • Chocolate • Velvet

Black & White* • Penguins • Piano Keys • Tiled Floors •
Photography • ChessBoards • Newsprint

*Because black and white are seldom used as singular, or
dominant color, we paired them as they are most likely to be
seen and felt!

WHAT IS COLOR? Color can be defined in many different terms. Depending upon its properties, color can be considered a hue, a tint, a shade or a tone.

Hue defines a color in its freshest, purest state. Namely, its color pigment is clear and unaltered.

Tint means the original hue, above, only with some white
added. (SEE PASTELS.)

Shade refers to the original hue with some black added.

Tone is the result of an original hue with some gray added,
or a mixture of gray and white. (SEE NEUTRALS.)

follows is a brief guide to the colors available to us -- and
all the combinations we can use to create a full rainbow of
hues, tints, shades and tones that flatter our rooms and
speak to our souls.

Primary Colors = Red, Yellow and Blue

Secondary Colors = Orange, green and violet -- the colors “in
between” the primaries. These secondary colors are
achieved by mixing equal parts of primary colors together.

Tertiary Colors = Primary colors mixed with secondary colors to form color combinations such as red-green, red-orange, red-violet, yellow-green, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-orange, and blue violet.

Quarterary Colors = Two primaries mixed with one secondary, or one primary mixed with two secondaries. This can result in a red-red orange or a green-green blue, for example. The color will take the direction of your color scheme, depending upon how closely you adhere to the primary or secondary hue.


There are as many approaches to color planning as there are designers. Some designers prefer fresh, sheer, colors over muted or “dusty” shades or tones. And yet, with today’s technology that machine mixes paints, an immense variety of muted shades is available. Some designers think they are limiting their client’s’ choices by not offering these colors for consideration. Others feel the industry has led consumers to believe that these “repressed” or “conservative” colors -- usually refereed to as “neutrals,” are perfectly appropriate for interiors. For example, some designers are fond of recommending a mostly beige-gray palette with the rationale that this color choice is “sophisticated” or deemed “safe” and, therefore, a better investment than brilliant, 100% honest color. For a full discussion of “neutrals,” please see NEUTRALS, on this page. And, finally, many designers feel strongly that the most successful interior color scheme emulates that which is outside -- the awesome, wondrous palette of nature. (A discussion on nature-inspired palettes will take place on this site at a later date.) At Home Plan Designs, we think the very best guide to planning a room’s color palette is to stick to the colors that appeal directly to your senses -- the colors that speak to you -- rather than being talked into “hot” or “trendy” colors by interior designers and sales people. Long-time interior designer, Alexandra Stoddard of Alexandra Stoddard, Inc., in New York City, recommends buying a Pantone 1000 Color System at your local paint or art store. With over 4, 500 paint chips in total, this useful guide lets you see how your favorite, pure colors would look mixed with white, black or gray. This kit contains over 600 pure pigments with three tints and three tones per hue. Always take your paint chips (they tear out) to the paint store --to ensure a 100% color accuracy. A great test for any color you are considering: Ms. Stoddard suggests you buy a mini flashlight (the kind used for night reading) and shine it on the color(s) in question to see how it looks with artificial light. (SEE COLOR AND LIGHT on this page.) To get to know your tastes better and perhaps discover a pattern, she also encourages you to collect objects that hold color appeal to you and view them against a piece of white paper (always examine color in daylight against a pure, white background). Or, simply cut out magazine photos with colors that appeal and glue them on white paper. Buy and play with color pencils and experiment with color combinations you are considering. Be as carefree as you wish during this process; there are no right or wrong answers. In other words, throw out the rule book and have fun!


What follows is a loose guide to the “personalities” behind each color and the general responses they evoke in most people. However, Home Plan Designs, once again, strongly suggests you pay attention to your own, individual reactions and preferences and use them as your most accurate criteria for creating a space you feel wonderfully at home in!

Blue/Greens are calming and relaxing, even dreamy. Color combinations such as aqua and turquoise are often selected for bathrooms. Aqua, by itself, works well in large areas. When used on walls, this color can take a textured or “feathery” finish in the paint which adds a little pizzaz to this color’s tranquility.

Pale Pink equates all the positive, happy aspects of life such as good health, sweetness, and innocence (think babies!). Pink is also the natural color of plastered walls and, like aqua, can be used successfully in large areas. Because pink, especially soft pink, is so soothing and pampered looking, many bedrooms feature this pretty color choice. Surprisingly adaptable, pink can be fine tuned for contemporary spaces or country cottage environments. This hue can exude an air of regality and richness,making it the ideal choice for a formal dining room. So, whenever you “think pink,” remember that it works as well in an office as it does in a nursery!

Hot Pink, while feminine, will sear a decor scheme with its natural intensity. It is a courageous choice, and best used in spaces where the decorator wishes to “shrink” proportions. Used sparingly, as accents and on “soft goods,” for example, hot pink can add just the right amount of “punch” to a room. Children and teens, alike, love this color, so it is also a good investment, as its “charm factor” will never grow old. SEE HOT COLORS on our Design News/Trends page.

Red is the most powerful of the three primary colors, and of all the hues in the color spectrum. From anger to passion, red represents a wide range of human emotions. Because of this magnificent capability, this color is seen as energizing and enlivens any interior, lending warmth, excitement and elegance all at once. It is aggressive in nature and favored by bold, confident personalities, making it the color of choice for the extrovert who possesses a penchant for the flamboyant. Because of its attention-grabbing properties, red, like hot pink, is best when reserved for details such as accessories and “surprise elements,” since it draws the eye to itself like a magnet. However, red can work in a dining room since it is said to stimulate the appetite. And since red is the traditional color of love and lust, it can also work in the bedroom of an individual with an appetite that goes beyond cuisine. Given that, plus red’s innate power, it stands to reason that this color should be avoided in areas designated for naps and sleeping! Depending on red’s shade, which can range from bright scarlet to cherry red or a subdued red/brown, this delightfully versatile hue can also work beautifully in a bar area, a cheerful “warm” kitchen, a contemporary media room, or an upbeat home office.

Blue can be considered “stimulating” as well as “soothing.” Considered by many to be the most beautiful of all colors, it echoes nature’s magnificence in its universal association with sea and sky. Blue suggests cool, tranquility and contentment but because of its link to nature, can also be invigorating. Blue is likened to authority, intelligence and trust as human qualities. This color is wonderful used outdoors as it is restful on the eyes, especially in contrast to bright sunshine. Blue may be selected for areas in which the dweller would like to add a sense of coolness and space. In a location such as an office or conference room, blue encourages occupants to meditate or ponder great things. When contrasting detailing in neutral colors comes into play, blue gains the power to freshen and invigorate. Since blue possesses inviting and conversation-inspiring characteristics, it is ideal in places where people tend to gather, sit and talk. With this in mind, an indoor porch with a large, clean view that makes visitors practically feel outdoors is the most ideal host for the color blue.

Orange = WOW! Lively and friendly, orange is loaded with creative, physical and mental energy. On the quieter side, it is attractive, cheerful, warm and secure. Orange denotes wealth and abundance, as well . For a perfect example of orange’s psychological powers, picture brilliant autumn leaves against an azure blue sky, or the warm intensity of flickering, dancing flames in a cozy fireplace. On a less intense note, visualize a fresh orange or a ripe melon. That’s the softer side of orange. In fact, it has been said that orange, in its palest tint, is the most universally flattering color to human skin tones. This could indeed explain why pale peach or sherbet is most often used for bridesmaids’ dresses or for the smocks worn by cosmetics consultants. Back in fashion once again (SEE HOT COLORS on our Design News/Trends page), orange was THE color in the 1920s and again, in the ‘60s and ‘70s. A great place for orange would be an entrance hall, since orange, with its light-reflective qualities, gives an illusion of warmth. Orange, because of that reason, should be used as a dominant color in any place where people gather for socializing. Orange is the perfect solution for livening up living spaces that are cool and dark by nature, such as dreary basement apartments or cramped studio apartments that receive little to no light. A delightful twist to orange also comes in its use for display cases or nooks. Used sparingly, as shelving, for example, orange can beautifully showcase treasured collectibles or art objects.

Purple is one of the most emotionally contrasting hues in the color spectrum. Cool purples and lilacs induce a feeling of peace and serenity. Deeper purples lean toward royalty, strength and power. Darker hues, such as deep lavender, for example, hold a fixed association with the “higher mind” and are said to be favored by meditative types who prefer order and “focus” over the “frantic, frenzied” lifestyles of today. But these deeper
purples can also symbolize honor, tragedy, and mourning which is why some experts believe this color should be avoided by those who are prone to depression or other forms of emotional vulnerability. Paler shades such as lavenders and lilacs suggest romance, fragileness, delicateness and femininity (remember shrinking violet?).

Used harmoniously, the shades of purple can create a calm, comforting effect and, therefore, are ideal in bedrooms and studies. Paired with contrasting, earthy colors such as golds, yellow and orange, purples also complement social areas. Decorators and designers advise that, while a vibrant purple can look daunting used as the dominating color in a large room, it can, like red, make excellent and lively accent and accessory pieces when cleverly applied. SEE HOT COLORS on our Design News/Trends page. Paler shades look beautiful on walls and ceilings and adapt to many different rooms. Lilac can be cool in a kitchen in very light hues. Combined with vibrant colors and chrome, Lilac can also look fresh and youthful and evoke a 1950s era look. Due to this color’s versatility and multiple recordings on the psychological richter scale, the best guideline to using this complex hue is to adhere to your own personality rather than the rules. Pay attention to how you react, emotionally, when you place purple in a room and keep in mind the mood or self expression you want to communicate.

Yellow is thought of as a sociable color. Aside from being one of the happiest colors in the rainbow (think “sunny disposition”), yellow can be considered powerful and intense when used in its purest form. Optimism and bright personalities tend to favor this color; the flip side of yellow, however, stirs feelings of unsettlement and can be anything but restful. Because of its brilliance and tendency to evoke energy and excitement, yellow is best used n subdued tints or, in its natural state, with other colors. Yellow becomes quite versatile and, depending upon its tint or added colors, such as violet, can go from liveliness to earthy and reassuring. This versatility has made yellow a popular choice in many designers’ palettes throughout decorating history and, certainly, today.

Yellow can be used successfully in large kitchens where meals are prepared and consumed -- you will be guaranteed a lively conversation and an upbeat mood! Yellow also works well in a playroom where its hues will result in the best possible behavior and an added bonus of generosity and sharing in the children inhabiting the space. In a workroom, imagination, creativity and communication will take on an unmistakable full bloom!

Green symbolizes youth, growth, ecology, relaxation, balance, recovery and optimism. Like blue, green emulates nature. Because green soothes, and is symbolic with recovery, it is the ideal color for a bedroom. Lighter greens, full of positive energy, look great in almost any contemporary style room, regardless of its function. Green also represents “cool and calm,” and can work well in a small room or area of a home that is allocated for office space or a work/hobby area. Think of the “green room” in theaters or talk show studios where actors and participants relax, and you’ll get the full flavor of the color “green.” (Although not all green rooms are literally green, the connotation is the same.)

Green is rapidly becoming known as the “new neutral” and the designer’s color of choice. You’ll find this hue in just about every room in the home, since it has a natural ability to go warm or cool, depending upon how much yellow or blue is used in the mixture. Green, in any form, goes with every other color in the rainbow which is also why it plays the role of a “neutral.” Think about how refreshing plants and other greenery, placed in any kind of room, look. In addition to being pleasing to the eye, green is associated with healthy, lush vegetation (think Hawaii and other tropical retreats!), cooling, soothing shade and quietness. Bright shades of yellow-green signify the beauty and energy of the first burst of spring, while deeper greens bring a sense of security and elegance.

Used as a dominant color, green graces living rooms effortlessly and paler hues, combined with golden wooden cabinets, create a soothing, sophisticated bathroom. Green is great as furnishings for a dressing room or accents to enliven a room bathed in crisp whites and warmneutrals.

Brown, the color of comfort, is thought to represent what’s “good” in life: polished mahogany, rich leather, friendly dogs, the solid, deep earth, baked bread, aromatic coffee beans and sensuous chocolate. Brown often goes uncredited for its role in a room’s color scheme, however, because it appears in polished wood trim, furnishings and accessories, it is actually the balance that pulls a room together or, the glue, so to speak.

Considered drab in homes during World War II, brown gave way to “hipness” in the ‘70s when it paired up with the-then hot color of orange. Brown is now welcomed back into the home fashions palette as a “natural.” SEE “HOT COLORS” ON OUR DESIGN NEWS/TRENDS PAGE. Today, brown is mixed with greens, taupes and olives to form an “eco” style. Dark brown melds easily with pale jade and deep plum. Best of all, chocolate brown-and cream-striped walls look crisp, refreshing and contemporary in dining rooms. And, finally, a warm red-brown in kitchen tiles creates that “home ‘n’ hearth” feel.

Black and White spells “sophistication” like nothing else can. This dramatic pairing was made popular in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s by artists and young people. It perseveres as an equally cool color choice today.

Black and white can easily translate as stark and cold, so avoid its use in very large areas! Instead, combine black and white with interesting, colorful objects and arresting paintings. For example, a black and white kitchen might have a bowl of ripe fruit, a collection of small green plants or a vase with colorful flowers.

Eclectic black and white is wonderful for showcasing shapes, as well. The Japanese often use a black and white color scheme to promote their fondness for minimalism. They achieve this look by arranging just a few pieces of uniquely shaped, black furnishings against a while wall. The furniture, in effect, becomes “backlit” by the sharp contrasts between dark shapes against such a light background. The “art “ lies in the playing of black off of white and the drama of the sharp contrast that results.

Used creatively, black and white can bring new life to objects that otherwise resemble “white elephants” or appear awkward and out of place in a room. For example, an ungainly, old-fashioned, oval bathtub in a small bathroom can be artistically “refurbished” by painting the tub white on the inside and black on the exterior. The flooring can be black or even a very dark brown for added drama. The duo of black and white can also assist in transforming undesirable traits such as odd or ugly fixtures or exposed piping into an art statement by painting the offending pieces bright gold or silver, or -- you guessed it -- black and white!

Gold has been considered to be one of the most glamorous -- and one of the trendiest -- metallic colors and, therefore, should never be taken too seriously in a decor scheme! Gold was used for decoration on black ebony furniture during the Regency or Empire period. In the later Victorian era it was favored as fine gold filigree patterns in Chinese-lacquered, red and black furniture. In the 1980s, gold became a favorite accessory with interior designers. It showed up as accompaniments to white leather furnishings, mirror tiles, deep, shag pile carpets and more, but was a transient fad of its time. Today, gold is used mostly as an ethnic motif, perhaps by the well-traveled, in fabrics, objects, wall art and collectibles in contemporary homes. It may also show up as a golden yellow ceiling and burnt orange flooring in the dwellings of the very brazen. Because of its incredible sparkle and gleam, gold is just plain fun.

Silver is the color of the moon, and tends to exude a balanced and feminine effect on many. Its popularity comes from a great versatility in decorating since it complements many colors, especially purple, lilac, cool blues, and rosy pink when used as a wall paint.

Silver is favored in home decorating because of its reflective, mirrored surfaces and its cool sharpness. Since the arrival of the industrial style, silver has been posing as pewter, tin, stainless steel, chrome, aluminum, galvanized iron and more. It is quite often used in loft living spaces and, because it can be striking looking in offices and home offices, as desks, shelving, lamps, chairs and trim.

In accents and accessories, silver makes a chic statement. For example, in many kitchens boasting a “catering style,” silver dominates, appearing on stainless steel work surfaces and sinks, cooking ranges and displayed appliances.

A word of caution... silver can grow cold to the eye very easily, so check out some of the newest paints available now. The paint industry has developed some very interesting, very effective alternatives, such as water-based metallics that deliver the decorative “punch” without the attending “chill.”

PASTELSPastels are simply pure colors with white added to them, resulting in a pale tint. Long ago, they were associated with little girls’ bedrooms and bathrooms and were widely used in the 1900s. Pastels were considered the “most livable” of colors, since they were unobtrusive and looked light and restful.

Today, the manner in which pastels are used can transform a room from “youthful” to to “sophistication”. You will find pastels in city apartments or suburban nurseries. One thing is certain, though. People seem to instinctively like or DISLIKE them. Many designers, for example, sing the praises of pastels since they are pure color with white added to them. Popular New York City interior designer, Alexandra Stoddard, likens white to sunlight. In her opinion, pastels are like clear hues viewed on a sunny day. For her, that is spiritually uplifting.

Karine Scheurer, Swiss-licensed Architect/Interior Designer and owner of KVS Design in North Easton, Massachusetts, favors bold colors over pastels. In her work, she sees people “over using” pastels in lieu of bright color. When a space calls for soft hues, she likes to use accent color on one wall in order to focus attention, there. “Color can make a room happy or sad, dark or bright, large or intimate,” says Karine. “I wish clients would be a little more adventurous when it comes to color. It’s just a can of paint and you can change it whenever you want.”

NEUTRALSA neutral is classified as any low-key color that is used to provide a background for other accent colors, architectural features, furnishings and objects.

Neutrals are considered by many designers to be a “regular” color in the interior design color spectrum and, when used successfully, one that takes a room to the highest level of sophistication. Other designers insist that neutrals are not “colors” at all, and invoke interiors that are mundane, boring and blasé. These designers maintain that neutrals are gloomy and exhaust the spirit.

Nevertheless, designers say they use neutrals most often for their unending versatility; a room that is done in predominantly neutrals can be changed instantly and dramatically by infusing different accents and fabrics. Neutrals also create the feeling of greater living space. Both of these justifications inspire the quiet interiors of many apartments and condominiums. These rooms can be adapted to people’s furnishings, art collections and accessories quickly and easily. Designers of apartments feel that the quiet of neutrals allows prospective tenants to “see” the space as it really is and visualize its potential.

There is a whole range of neutrals available to the interior designer. Grayed tones of all the primaries and secondaries make up the neutral color palette, extending from off-whites to rich, off-blacks. As a result, “blends” such as buttery cream, smoke gray, bone and khaki are all considered heavy hitters in the neutral color camp; cream, taupe, camel, tan, gray and sand are more excellent examples of good neutrals used often by designers. Depending on the skill of the designer, interiors cloaked in soft neutrals can be dramatic, sleek and even theatrical.

So, there are actually many uses for the neutral color palette: aside from wanting to showcase beautiful, brilliant art collections or books, others simply dislike clutter and neutrals create the illusion of cleanliness and spaciousness. Practicality also comes into play in the decision to “go neutral.” It is simply too expensive to change colors in furnishings, window treatments and accents every time a new trend in color or furnishings emerges.

Simply put, neutrals can serve as a nonintrusive, soothing backdrop for brightly contrasting furnishings, accents and collectibles. Many designers swear by neutrals and often create exciting, endless possibilities from within this “hidden” palette.

Not sure what colors to choose when planning a color scheme for a room? Consider the following contemporary combos -- and the “personalities” behind the colors. Whether you’re going for warm and cozy or cool and dramatic, you’re sure to find an inspiring palette to suit your mood.

Predominant Color(s) - Aquas and Turquoises

Dramatic!: Shaker blue, Aqua green & Creamy white

Where Best Used: a cubicle work environment

Colorful!: Pale aqua, Purple, Shaker blue & Mauve pinkWhere Best Used: a small hallway or study

Predominant Color(s) -- Aqua and More Aqua

Sophisticated!: Aqua (on walls & ceiling), Sage, Deep salmon & Warm green Where Best Used: a reception area or great room

Predominant Color(s) -- Pale Pinks

Pink and Blonde: Pale ocher yellow (for doors and trim), Orange sorbet, Plaster pink & Hot pink Where Best Used: a reception area, a hallway or foyer

Contemporary Pink: Plaster pink, Deep turquoise & Ultramarine
Where Best Used: an office or kitchen

Not Just For Tots: Hot pink, Warm pink & Palest pink
Where Best Used: a child’s room but, keep in mind that, because this color is so versatile,teens prefer it, too.

Feminine Pink: Shell pink, Pale creamy yellow & Rose pinkWhere Best Used: “her” bedroom

Predominant Color(s) -- Hot Pink

Harmony Pink: Hot pink, Pale lavender & Pale mauve pink
Where Best Used: a bedroom or sitting room

Shocking Pink: Bright red, Bright purple & Hot pink
Where Best Used: a child’s play room

Predominant Color(s) -- Red
Fire Engine Red: Scarlet, Hot pink & Black
Where Best Used: a bar area Business & Pleasure!:

Rich red & creamy white
Where Best Used: a home office

Ripest Red: Cherry red, Pale pistachio & White
Where Best Used: a kitchenPredominant Color(s) -- Blue

Fresh ‘n’ Lively!: Bright pure blue, Black, Scarlet & White
Where Best Used: a great room or living room

Simple & Soothing: Ice blue, Soft aqua & Pale lavender
Where Best Used: a light, airy kitchen with lots of windows or an enclosed, indoor porch

The Brightest of Blues: Pure blue, Lemon & Deep lime
Where Best Used: a kitchen or galley

Predominant Color(s) -- Orange

Warm Spice: Paprika & Pure orangeWhere Best Used: in any room or area you would like to “warm up” a bit!

High Octane: Earthy orange, Red orange & Jersey cream
Where Best Used: a living room with collectibles on display

Unabashedly Orange!: Sunflower yellow, Pale apricot, Pure orange & Deep orange
Where Best Used: a basement or studio apartment that receives low to no light

Warmest of Welcomes!: Cinnamon, Rose red & Warm orange
Where Best Used: a foyer or a small reception area

Predominant Color(s) -- Purple
Less Stress!: Lilac, Pale green & Lavender blue
Where Best Used: an office or work room

Kitchen Kool: Lavender, Pale lilac & Deep salmon pink
Where Best Used: a large, “traditional” kitchen with high ceilings

A Still Life in Lilac: Lilac, Bright rose pink & Light bright turquoise
Where Best Used: a pretty bedroom

Predominant Color(s) -- Yellow
A Ray of Sunshine: Pale orange, Sunshine yellow & Creamy white
Where Best Used: foyers, hallways and corridors with little light sources

A Splash of Color:
No color dominates, here! Yellow’s only purpose is to act like the sun and bring out the bright in all these colors. Hot pink, Scarlet, Pale peach & Citrus yellowWhere Best Used: small corner or hobby room

Crowd Pleaser: Custard yellow, Pistachio, Bright mauve & Violet blue
Where Best Used: a large kitchen where social gatherings frequently take place

Predominant Color(s) -- Green
Pleasant Retreat: Deep avocado, Olive, Fresh green & Silver-gray
Where Best Used: a small, “makeshift” home office, such as a former walk-in closet or tiny hallway, with low-to-no light

A Colorful Mix: Light apple green, Mustard yellow & Yellow-green
Where Best Used: an old-fashioned kitchen with large, open-shelf cabinets and wrought iron table and chairs, or a gardening room

Eclectic Green: (The first three hues get equal play in this scheme; the fourth is relegated to accessories, only) Pale sage, Deep avocado, Barn red & Brick red
Where Best Used: a wildly contemporary dining room!

Predominant Color(s) -- BrownSand ‘n’ Suede:
Soft rose pink, Palette peach & Tuscan yellow
Where Best Used: a contemporary, “minimalist-look” bedroom or guest room

A Blend of Woods: Dusty pink, Shell pink & Coffee brown
Where Best Used: a contemporary, “minimalist-look” kitchen with ceiling rafters, woodenfloors and counter tops (think ski lodge or ski condo)

Traditional Elegance: Bitter chocolate, Palest lilac, Creamy custard
Where Best Used: a large, formal living room with high ceilings and traditional furnishings


Although we have just discussed the various hues and the general interpretations of each, how you, as an individual, reacts is unique. Whatever response a color -- or a group of colors -- evokes in you is highly personal, so be sure to tune into it. Once you have become aware of your personal color palette, you can easily decorate any room, or your entire home, for that matter, using these colors to fully express your own unique style.

The following characteristics are the most popular categories personalities tend to fall into:

Romantic & Sensual:

• Use pinks ranging from the palest shell or blush to the most exciting magenta or lipstick
• Interject some shades of purple in medium to light shades (wisteria, orchid, lilac) and/or richer tones such as concord grape.
• Pale oranges and peach also have a place in the “romantic “ palette
• Cool blues that emulate water such as light teal and periwinkle speak the same language
• Pinks and white work well in a bedroom; with warm, deeper reds, in a living room or sitting room

Extroverted, Bright & Playful:
• Use primary colors to connote laughter and play
• Colors should have a high level of contrast• Use white for your foundation so all your brights “pop”

*Ad agencies often use this kind of palette to promote creative, energetic “play” and freedom of expression throughout the work day.

Healing/Therapeutic & Life Restoring:

• Use colors that echo nature: greens (warm or cool hues but never muddy), earth tones (berries, leaves & bittersweet) and fall colors (marigold, cornflower, sunflower and nasturtiums)
• Healing palettes call for color contrast and clarity for inspiration
• A range of lights and darks works well as long as “muds” are avoided

Intellectual (Sharp, Witty & Unique)... Well Read or Well Traveled:

• Keep colors in low contrast -- lights and darks should be bridged with intermediate tones
• Include an earthy, warm gray in your color scheme to promote creativity• Incorporate some tones of blue to suggest communication and trust
• Integrate some warmer shades of navy
• Bring reds in for accents but make sure they are earthy tones, such as cranberry, burgundy, and oxblood -- never the clear primary red in its purest form.

Experiment with your personal color inclinations and tune into your emotional responses along the way. Remember that trying colors in different tones and tints can greatly change their effect and the way they “speak to you,” making them eligible for many possibilities. Just make sure that the final result is something that expresses YOU -- not the tastes and trends of your designer or a decorating magazine.

In this way, you will ensure a personal color palette that is fun to live with and true to your inner sense of being. After all, isn’t that what great decorating is all about?