The Language of Color

The color you choose says more than you might think.

Have you ever entered a room and felt mysteriously soothed — or immediately alert? It may have been nothing more than color at work. The colors used to decorate a space can have profound effects on the way we experience it.

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Green
Green evokes the freshness of
the great outdoors.

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Blue
Blue can make a room feel cooler or cozier,
depending on its undertones.

Peaceful blue
The color of clear oceans and summer skies, blue has a natural association with coolness. The many, many shades of blue available offer opportunities for sophisticated emotional messaging. Blues with red undertones can make a room feel cozier and more sociable, while blues with a hint of yellow can make a room look larger and cleaner, if not a little crisp.

Fresh green
As anyone who has spent time in a school knows, it’s possible to have too much faith in green walls to keep the peace. But, used cleverly, green really can create an atmosphere of natural freshness and calm. It’s also a great color for spaces that are oriented around food, so consider green for your kitchen or dining room.

Warm browns and greys
A touch of brown, warm grey, or taupe, especially in the form of wood or ceramics, adds an earthy and reassuring touch of nature to a room that’s heavy on neutrals or white. Brown and grey are also no-brainers when it comes to choosing floor coverings  — perhaps it’s not surprising that walking on earth tones just feels right.

When choosing furnishings, consider the powerful emotional effect of color.

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Red
Exciting and upbeat, a splash of
red enlivens any space.  

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Yellow
Optimistic, energetic yellow is an
ideal color for shared spaces.

Airy white
As a neutral, white is always a safe bet. Its airy, spacious, light-reflecting quality can make small rooms look larger and raise low ceilings. Prevent large amounts of white from becoming too clinical by accenting with other colors – or, if a totally white, gallery-like space is your dream, use texture to create interest instead.

Elegant black
Every sophisticated room needs a touch of black; when used as an accent, or judiciously as a neutral, it projects elegance and a certain warmth. When the effect you’re aiming for is striking and fearless, think black.

Powerful red
Associated with danger, love, and war, red can be a very complicated color. Red is exciting; it raises blood pressure, grabs the attention and is thought to stimulate the appetite, which is why it’s so often seen in the luxurious banquet halls of historic homes. Because red is such an upbeat color, it may not be the best choice for rooms where you want serenity and calm.

Joyous orange
Like red, orange is a great choice for spaces dedicated to fun, food, and sociability. It’s a warm, uplifting and optimistic color, and just a pop or two is enough to brighten a room. On its own, or paired with blue (its opposite on the color wheel), orange produces a highly stimulating effect.

Colors speak to us all by provoking emotional and even physical responses. Before committing to a color scheme, consult an interior designer to uncover its hidden possibilities. By mastering this most elemental of languages, you can make a room speak volumes.