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  • Writer's pictureBarton Wood

Color! It’s a Life Essential

Claude Monet (1840-1926) once said, “colour is my day-long obsession, joy, and torment.” I think that most of us can empathize with tis statement. We love color, but man of us are afraid of it and as a result avoid it. Color stirs the emotions. I’ve seen people react both physically and emotionally to the colors that surround them, whether they were aware of it or not. Color is physical expression of our emotions: it tells the story of our past and opens opportunities for our future. Every moment of our lives is surrounded by colors—colors that either positively or negatively affect our experiences.

The effects of bold, dramatic color are far-reaching and cannot be ignored. Color can motivate, de-stress, improve one’s disposition, and even help control appetite. So why are so many people afraid of choosing or using it their decorating plans?

The trouble is that some people aren’t even sure what colors they like. Ohers are afraid to commit to a specific color even when they know they love it. Some are afraid of making a mistake. Others are overwhelmed by all the choices.

A recent article said that the human eye sees more than two million colors! I agree that number is over-whelming. Sadly, even though few would say that white or beige is their favorite color, one study found that 45 percent of homes are predominately white or beige.

In interior design, just as in art, harmony result from a pleasing arrangement of colors. But our response to color is influenced by a combination of education, exposure, culture and our individual ability to see color. Our person histories, our life experiences, and ever our religious affiliation affect how we respond to color. For example, in some religions, red is used for sacred items, while for others purple is used.

All these influences play a part in how color affects us individually. We each have our own physical and psychological reaction to color. For example, if as a child you were severely reprimanded in a green room, you many have an adverse reaction to green rooms although consciously you no longer even remember the original event.

Our reaction to color can also be influenced by age, gender and socioeconomic status. A University of Texas study found that women experienced more depression in white, gray, and beige offices, while men reported feeling depressed in orange or purple rooms.

Research has shown that red makes our hearts beat faster. Blue is calming. Yellow enhances concentration, and green refreshes. Because of the associations we have with colors that appear in nature, some are considered cool (green grass, blue water). Others are warm (red fire, yellow sun).

Warm colors such as red or orange make your body temperature warmer; cool colors such as blue or gray can make you feel cooler in temperature. Yellow, orange, and red are also said to inspire conversation by sparking emotions, with red being the strongest and most forceful. Orange applies less pressure and yellow merely suggests. All colors contain other colors. For example, red may have a value or an orange base. Pink may have a yellow or blue base.

In addition to mental associations with color, physical responses to color exist. Light energy stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands that regulate hormones and our bodies. The response to color is so powerful that pink has been used in jail cells to help control behavior or inmates. Alexander Schauss, PhD, director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington, has said that pink is a tranquilizing color that sap energy—even for those who are color blind!

Knowing which color you are drawn to and understanding your own response to color can give you the ability to use color to positively influence your life. I recommend working from the color palette of something you love. It can be a scarf, a painting, carpet, wallpaper or anything that uses the colors that make you feel good. From this item, choose your three main colors.

Color your world beautiful,


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