Tints and Tones

Is your home interior impacting your mental health?

By Marie Kouthoofd

colorColor can make or break the mood.

It can energize or calm, depress or excite, induce irritation or a feeling of serenity. Choose the correct color for your living quarters and voila, time may feel it is standing still or flowing with ease.

The right touch of color can transform that boring, mundane room into a sanctuary, but beware, it can also create a dark, gloomy pit. What is more, the colors you favor speak volumes about your personality.

No matter how you look at it, color matters.

The crimson crypt

Making a bold move, I decided to bathe my kitchen walls with a vigorous and robust red, a choice color for the areas of food prep and consumption. Exposing the over-dramatized fallacy that red causes feelings of rage and anger, much of the literature boasted of its rich and energizing properties.

Aside from the sensational claims, red along with its warm analogous hues can essentially make a room not only energetic and warm but feel as if time were standing still. To that end, I love the color red. So I picked a rich brick-red paint and hired my Favorite Painters Calgary to paint every wall and crevice.

Resembling a page from a magazine, the finished product was stunning. With its white trim and dramatic brick-red walls, the room gave off a warm and inviting vibe. My joy however, was short lived. The more time I spent in the room, the more oppressive the color became. The mere thought of cooking, eating or even walking through became a chore.

What went wrong? All the research pointed to red for the kitchen. The color is warm, stimulating and gives that dramatic touch I sought. Nevertheless, instead of creating a red refuge, my freshly painted kitchen felt like a crimson crypt and the whitewash was soon to follow.

The experience of color is highly subjective. It can improve mood when it is favorable and appeals to the viewer; the key phrase here is favorable to the viewer.

Having two primary moods, colors are categorized as either warm or cold. Red with its analogous hues is the warm and exciting spectrum. The calming and restorative effects of the blue, greens and violets are considered cool.

When one thinks of red, orange and yellow it is easy to conjure images of fire, a beautiful sunset or sunshine, respectively. In contrast, the cool side of the spectrum may invoke visions of blue skies, green meadows and deep purple flowers.

Clinical side of color

colorBecause we indirectly see hues, color can cause subtle psychological effects.

For example, in a bright, harmonious setting, most will have an improvement in mood. However, it is worthy to note that nervous or anxious individuals tend to be more sensitive to color. Color has been known to impact blood pressure.

Nevertheless, pleasing color combinations can have pleasing and calming effects. In fact, some note success with color therapy becoming increasingly more common. Moreover, blue light has been used to calm those suffering through a psychotic episode. By filtering out red rays, green lenses have been reported to reduce physical tremors.

Research demonstrates the importance of personality and color preferences. For example, if you’re the extroverted type that is highly sociable, talkative and gregarious, you might fare well with the stimulating effect warm colors provide.

If you, on the other hand, are the shy, quiet introverted soul who likes to seek out solitude, it’s the cool side you may favor.

Having said that, it is worthy to note any color if too vivid or pure can cause distress and is based solely on each individual’s predilections. Light colors have an active flow and deep colors give off a passive feel.

Create impact with red

Although red may not cause rage, it can have a disruptive effect. Nevertheless, when immersed in red light, reaction time has been known to increase a respectable 12 percent and the perception of time slows. In addition, red objects appear closer, longer and bigger. With that, warm colors are said to be best for cocktail lounges, living rooms and restaurants.

With blue’s calming effects and green’s restorative qualities, these cool colors are best suitable for routine, monotonous tasks.

These are great for workspaces, factories and offices as the perception of time tends to flow or be underestimated. Objects then seem further, shorter and smaller.

Finally, mental and visual tasks are best done in soft and deep color, providing there is ample illumination.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to color. For me, red proved to be too vigorous for my introverted tendencies. I still love red, but next time it might be best to take a more experimental approach and paint one or two walls, instead of the whole gamut. Perhaps pick a less saturated hue. Maybe add some cool complementary accents or temporarily paint one wall and see how my psyche handles it.

We put time into what we wear and the colors we put next to our skin, but sometimes disregard the psychological effect of the hue in which we clothe our home’s interior, the place we spend most of our time.

Whatever your preferences, cool, warm, dim or bright, find the most productive color for you and color your world.