The effects of color on our lives

Whether we think about it or not, color can have a strong effect on our mood, feelings and actions. It can even help explain some strange reactions from our coworkers and loved ones. It all starts out in the very interesting history of color.

This can give us a clue into the sometimes bewildering emotions that color can evoke. Prior to the invention of modern dyes, color was reserved for only the wealthy. The peasants were relegated to natural materials made from leather, cotton, flax and linen. These were all available in dull shades of beige. The good news is that they didn’t show dirt as washing was also a luxury. The rich could afford to use semi-precious minerals like amethyst for purple, lapis for royal blue and exotic berries for reds. White was fairly elusive until bleach and titanium were more available. Denim blue only became available with the use of indigo – hence the endearing color of our modern denim jeans.

Jump ahead to modern days and we now have a complete rainbow of colors from dyes. Yet the most expensive liquid in the World is ink! Now that we have successfully colored our world, we need to understand how to effectively use those colors. To help coordinate the world of color, an international group meets each year as the Color Council. They design and determine the palette of available dyes and inks for the upcoming year. That way you can get an area rug from Target, a bedspread from Walmart, tile from HomeDepot and a Rubbermaid trash can that all match. It may sound like a conspiracy, but it definitely makes it easier for all of us to decorate our homes or match a new fashion outfit.


Here are some interesting facts about color to help you use them wisely:

    • Blue is the number one favorite color of Americans


    • Pink has a soothing effect for about 90 minutes – it has been used successfully as jail holding cells


    • Radiant Orchid is the current reigning color of the year 2014.

Of course, all colors go through their fads, but these are some tested reactions to the color in general.
Color has a very important role in decorating, so a few basic rules should be noted. Get more great tips in my FREE Giude.   When designing a color palette for a room, remember the 60/30/10 rule. If you want a comfortable feeling environment, use these proportions in selecting colors. 60% 0f the space should be your primary color. I like to use it for flooring, walls and major furniture pieces. Then 30% of the color palette is your secondary color for accent furnishings like chairs and rugs. Then the final 10% should be a pop of color in art, accessories, throw pillows and drapery trims.

If you are going for real drama, use 3 colors in more equal proportions to achieve an exciting space. To make a room look more spacious, use all one lighter color on floors, walls, ceilings, trims and doors. If your eye does not have a break to a new color, it interprets the space as larger. Paint chips come in a myriad of colors. Be aware that you need to select one in a more grayed down version for walls in AZ. Our very bright yellow light can intensify their effect so always invest in a sample jar before painting large areas. I like to drive through neighborhoods with my paint deck to see what colors look good on home exteriors even before selecting sample colors. The final tip is to be sure that you select colors that are all cool based or all warm based in a single space. That is not to say that you can never mix a yellow with a blue. Just select a cooler version of the yellow or a warmer version of the blue to achieve a cohesive look.

One final story to share about how influential color can be in our world: A company had to mail out refund checks to its customers. They did not have to be sure that the checks were cashed – just sent out. They went to a color specialist to see what color would be so repulsive that people would throw the envelope away without opening it. An unattractive shade of goldish ochre was selected and a majority of the checks were never cashed. That year the company had a great bottom line thanks to the psychology of color.

Now go out and have fun with color!  and get your FREE decorating guide.

Written by Peggy Ridgley of Prism Design and Renovations, 2014 . Peggy has over 25 years of experience and satisfied Clients in Arizona, California, Wisconsin and Florida. She can be reached at (480) 725-4687 for answers to all your decorating questions and challenges.

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