Color As Therapy For Your Home

I HAD A CUSTOMER call me the other day wanting to thank me for a very small thing. It’s something I do almost every day as an interior designer. I helped her select a few paint colors for her home. She brought in her fabrics and described to me the style of her house. I had never been to her house, but after speaking with her for several minutes I began to imagine what it was like and how her family lived. We were able to narrow down the paint selections pretty quickly. A soft fern green color for her guest bedroom. A warm fall golden color for her hallway and foyer. She went home and I ordered the paints from our favorite paint source, Devine Paints, and they were shipped directly to her front door.

I got a call from her about a week later. She was elated! The paint colors gave her so much joy.  Joy she needed because it had been a day filled with a lot of disappointment and frustration. Her husband had been having health problems. They had been back and forth to the hospital trying to resolve his situation. That day they ran into a brick wall yet again. Upon returning home from the hospital, the painters had just finished the last coat of paint. She was happily surprised how great her new colors made her house feel. Her attitude about the temporary problems they were having, now felt temporary. They would find a solution; things would work out. That moment of joy in a simple change that she had made to her home, had turned her attitude around. She wanted me to know that I had helped her to make this change in her life. Wow!

Looking at Before and After pictures of another project, we get a sense of how dramatic a change color can provide:

Great Room Dining Area Before Paint Color ConsultationDespite its large skylights, this great room’s dining area was dreary and dated, with disparate wood tones and a lack of color.

Paneled Great Room After Paint Colors

After our color consultation, the plank paneling was painted Devine Paints’ Butter color. For the wood beams and trim we chose two shades of blue-green reminiscent of the French countryside.  The owners’ existing chairs were  sprayed with Chinese red enamel and treated to new cushions.  The patterned curtains we added brought life to the oversized room and provided the color palette to work from. Notice even the lanterns on the wall were given a new patina with paint. Floors were replaced with handscraped wood planks to bring a warmer wood back in. As a final touch, we selected an iron and gilt chandelier for a more formal note.

The most rewarding aspect of being an interior designer is to have a positive impact on the way someone lives. In a way, we are home therapists. We help you to reinvent your space so that you can function better, feel better and ultimately live a better quality life.

It may seem trivial. Really, can a paint color change the way I feel at home, in a room? The answer is yes. In fact there is quite a bit of research regarding how we react to our surroundings and color. You may already know that the colors Red and Yellow are aggressive and active colors. Greens and Blues are relaxing and soothing colors. The color Orange can stimulate appetite and encourage socialization. Our reaction to color is almost instantaneous and has a profound impact on the choices we make every day.
color_wheelColor Psychology as Therapy
According to Kendra Van Wagner, color expert, there were several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, which practiced chromotherapy, or using colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology. It is still used today as a holistic or alternative medicine method. Chromotherapists claim that colors bring about emotional reactions in people.
· Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
· Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
· Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
· Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
· Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.
I firmly believe as a designer, from my education and experience, that a harmoniously balanced room can have a positive impact on an individual’s emotional and physical well-being. We may not realize it, but we unconsciously perceive our surroundings. If your room colors are mostly dark and muddy, then you may feel a little more depressed. If your colors are light and airy, you may feel more relaxed and positive. If your colors are bright and aggressive, you may feel motivated or possibly agitated and not know why. How do you want to feel in your home? Take a look at the colors that surround you and imagine how you would feel if they were different. It just could be the change you are looking for!
Layla S. Altman, ASID can be reached at 843-238-0078 or by email: Copyright 2009 by Layla S. Altman. May not be reproduced without permission.

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