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How to Improve Mood with Paint Colors



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Feeling down? Your wall colors could be the culprit. Paint colors can affect your mood. If you're feeling antsy, your house colors may be too warm. Depressed? Your house colors may be too cool.

Color consultant Susan Pike says the power of color goes beyond mere decoration. Color can improve your quality of life. "Color is a sensation that is created in the brain," Pike says. "People process color differently. It's all in how you're wired."

While paint color choices may seem limitless and easily overwhelming, Pike says there are really only two choices: "In essence, there are only warm tones and cool tones." It's a matter of determining which palette works best with your personality.

When Pike meets clients, she listens, first and foremost. "People will tell you exactly what they need by the way they talk," she says. A fast talker requires the calming influences of cool shades, while a slow, deliberate speaker requires the energy of warm tones.

Warm tones, such as yellow, red and orange, are energizing. But they don't jibe with everyone. Pike once worked with a client who regretted painting her master bedroom peach. The color drove her to distractionand her husband, too. In fact, he refused to sleep in the room, opting for the guest bedroom instead. The woman sought Pike's help. By adding bedding and accessories in soft caramel and chocolate tones, Pike "cooled down" the peach, making the room more inviting. "You can trick colors into behaving very easily," she says. "If more people would look at how nature handles color, they would completely get it."

Nature offers a lot of greens and browns, which complement other colors. These can be great supporting colors in the home, as well.

Cool shades, such as blue and blue-greens, are calming. They slow your heart rate, lower your body temperature and suppress your appetite. "If you don't want people to come over to eat very much, paint the dining room blue," Pike says. This is why restaurants tend to avoid blue. They rely on appetizing colors, such as brown and red.

While it is one of the most popular colors, blue can also be cold and depressing. Generally, the most satisfying blue in the home is one with "its toes dipped in green," Pike says. "You've warmed up the blue."

Blues work particularly well in bedrooms and bathrooms, where people want to relax. However, if you're feeling blue, you might want to avoid the color in your home altogether. "If you are a person who has depression issues, you don't want to have cool tones," Pike says.

Residents of northern climes affected by winter's diminishing in lightespecially those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disordershould opt for uplifting warm tones in the home. "A lot of people with seasonal issues gravitate toward neutrals," Pike says. But restful neutrals might not be the best medicine. Pike suggests mood-enhancing yellows, soft reds and oranges instead. "Oranges are great," she says. "Orange expresses energy because it has a luminous quality." She particularly recommends Desert Tan by Benjamin Moore. "This color is like a pill. It always works. Men love it. Women love it. It's a caramel yellow. It looks like butterscotch."

Homeowners often tend to work backward and choose paint color first. Interior decorators, however, choose the furnishings and fabrics first, saving the paint for last. Fabrics and furnishings help determine the wall color. "In fabrics and furnishings there are fewer color choices," Pike says. "Choose those first and that will help you choose your paint colors."

Most people are not afraid of color, Pike says, but of choosing the wrong color. "We all have emotional responses to color," she says, "so colors can serve as tools to help us feel better."

Susan Pike is a color consultant for Valspar, Waverly and House Beautiful. For more tips, visit www.colorbysusan.com.

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More about this author: Laurie Kaiser

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