The most basic
distinction is usually made between so-called “warm” and “cool”
color palettes. The warms – red, orange and yellow – are usually
associated with feelings of intimacy, comfort and creativity.
Because the colors are most often associated with fire, it only
stands to reason that they would suggest energy and ferment. On the
flip side are the cool colors – green, blue and purple – which are
usually associated with calmness, serenity and open space. Designers
tend to use such colors in rooms where stress levels tend to run a
bit hot, for instance, or where excessive sunlight may irritate.
But of course each color comes with its own particular qualities as
well. Going through the rainbow, we begin with red, the most
passionate of hues. Because the color is associated most closely
with desire, it may be employed in bedrooms, restaurants, boutiques
and casinos to good effect. Studies have shown that many people feel
increased energy when they enter a red room, and such energy can be
channeled effectively and amplified using carpeting and other accent
colors in the mix. Crimson is considered a bit more stayed, while
paler orange – and pink – suggest romance.
Orange is widely considered the hue of creativity – witness the
proliferating number of tech brands that use orange in their design.
A number of schools employ orange to stimulate original thought, and
parents are increasingly coating the walls of their children’s rooms
in the same color. Although orange may be associated with passion as
well, it is generally considered a more welcoming color that brings
such powerful interests into the collective sphere. As such, orange
family rooms, boardrooms and play areas are often orange, melon or
salmon to encourage lively discussion. Add a touch of pink and you
can expect greater intimacy as well.
Yellow is without question the most stimulating paint color. Because
it imparts a sunny cast, yellow is often employed in preschools,
kitchens and bathrooms. Yellow is a playful color, and blending it
with others can accent any space with competing emotions – fun with
calm when mixed with green, or relaxed levity as you fade it into
white. Although many homeowners are afraid to use such a bold color,
the final effect can be utterly charming, especially in older homes.
Consider accenting with simple black and white for a whimsical
touch, or with paler blues for a refined, Craftsman feel.
Green is the second sibling when it comes to cooler hues, but its
remains vital and popular nonetheless. Often considered the most
calming hue, green is put to widespread use in hospitals, offices
and countless educational institutions. Because the color can be
mixed to such varying effect, green never imparts just one emotion.
Blue-green, for instance, is widely associated with restfulness,
while yellow-green adds a lighter touch of refinement. Saturated
greens in any hue tend to invite interaction, and darker hues add a
stately and masculine touch to any space.
Finally, blue is the most common color of all for mood painting.
Often considered the precise counterpoint to red, blue tends to
suppress desire, quell passion and invite serene reflection. For
this reason it is often employed in children’s rooms and studies for
a touch of sanctuary. You won’t find blue in many restaurants for
precisely this reason, but libraries and offices may want to
consider its palliative effects.
Whatever you choose, it may be wise to create a simple mockup of
your room using basic photo editing tools if you want a better sense
of what to expect. With a little planning and a fine eye for other
decorating concepts, you should come away with a space that provides
exactly the effect you want.