Design Confidently, Live Comfortably

How to shift out of neutral and refresh your rooms with color

by Sharon Hanby-Robie

After nearly 30 years as an interior designer, I know this for a fact: 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.

Research has shown that red makes our hearts beat faster. Blue is calming, yellow enhances concentration, and green refreshes. The effects of bold, dramatic color are far-reaching, and they cannot be ignored. Color can motivate, de-stress, improve one's disposition, and even help control appetite.

Knowing this, why don't more of us break away from the humdrum world of white walls and bland furnishings, and infuse color into our own homes?

The trouble is that some people aren't even sure what colors they like. Others fear that bright, colorful rooms may be thought of as childish, unsophisticated, Bohemian, too trendy -- or worse, not trendy enough. Some worry they will tire of a color too soon.

Give your room a complement The muted lavender walls and billowy melon curtains in this room combine in a pleasing way because the colors are complementary.

Others say they're overwhelmed by all the choices. If you've ever taken home a shopping bag filled with sample paint chips, you know what they mean. Still others say they're simply afraid of messing up. What if the soft, beautiful sapphire they imagined turns out to be a screaming blue?

One of the things I've learned over the years is that color can be a powerful, versatile decorating tool -- if you know how to use it. But first you need to understand how color works, and why it affects us the way it does.

NEXT: Know Your Colors, Know Yourself

Know Your Colors, Know Yourself
Paint Is a Great Place to Start
Beyond Paint -- Floors, Furnishings, and More
How a Color Wheel Works
See It First, Paint It Later
Create a Mood with Color



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