By Katie MacGillivray
Paint color is one of the most flexible elements in a space. It’s easy to change and inexpensive to boot. So why does it trip up even the most decisive homeowners? Color sets the tone of a room. It subtly impacts how we perceive a space, and, as a result, how we respond physically and psychologically to it. You’re probably familiar with one facet of color psychology: warmer tones (red, oranges, and yellows) tend to energize us whereas cooler colors are commonly associated with relaxation. We never see color objectively though. Light, surrounding objects and materials, and our own experiences and beliefs affects how color is perceived and responded to. Knowing how its environment influences color, however, can help you filter your options and make a decision. Here are five tools to filter your color options: Decide on a “feel.” How do you want to feel in your space? Relaxed? Motivated? After you decide on how you want to experience your space, take ten minutes and look at a few photos of rooms. Pay attention to which photos give you your desired “feel” and the colors depicted, and use these colors as a starting point for your own selection.
More light, especially daylighting, makes colors appear brighter; less will zap their intensity, making them appear darker and more gray. Evaluate the quantity and type of lighting is in your space, and use the following guidelines to narrow down your color selection:
- Limited lighting: Choose colors of lighter shades and more intensity (brighter)
- Lots of lighting: Lighter and brighter colors are intensified. Choose colors with less intensity.
- Warm lighting: Choose colors with greens, blues, and purple undertones (i.e. magenta as opposed to maroon) to counteract the warm glow.
- Cool lighting: Offset cool lighting by choosing colors with more red, orange, or yellow in them, like a yellow-green instead of a pine green.
Go with your gut Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three paint colors, look at your choices side by side with fresh eyes. Because our perception of a color diminishes the longer we view it, our first glance is our best evaluation. Trust your gut and stick with your first impression. And remember: there’s no one right answer to picking paint.