Color Basics

So many colors, so little time! How do you decide between the billions of color options out there, whether you are painting a room or deciding on the perfect accessory to your outfit? This article will offer you some clarity into the world of color through an insight into how color is perceived.
 
 
First, it should be noted that people perceive color differently depending on their upbringing, culture, and personal experiences. For example, about.com states that many Western countries view white as a symbol for purity and innocence, while many Eastern countries use white for mourning (http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm).

To further understand how color is perceived we must understand the basic color wheel:

 
The primary colors are yellow, blue, and red.These are blended to form the secondary colors green, purple, and orange, as shown above.Blending these colors further will result in more variations of colors.

Have you ever wondered why surgeons wear green scrubs? If you look at the color wheel above, you will see that red is directly opposite green. The green scrubs offer rest to the eyes of surgeons who have been looking at blood red for quite some time (http://scienceline.org/2008/09/ask-locke-greenbluescrubs/).

Each color is attached to different perceptions and emotions. It is important to understand that a color can evoke more than one feeling and various shades of a color can all be related to different things. In essence, color and its meanings are subjective.
 
 
Overall, the warm colors (red, orange, and yellow) tend to evoke a range of feelings from comfort to hostility.  Consider the color red, for example.  It has been tied to increased feelings of hunger and has therefore been used by many major food/ beverage corporations in their advertising.  However, it can also symbolize love/ passion or anger/ hatred.  Fun fact: “Often worn by eastern aesthetics, orange is associated with vibrant health. It has the same vibrational frequency as DNA, the template of all human cells. This color is known to heal shock.”  Orange has been shown to help children who have been diagnosed with autism (http://www.blisstree.com/2006/12/23/mental-health-well-being/what-color-is-your-autism/).  The cool colors (blue, green, and purple) are more likely to be warm and calming, but these colors may also bring about feelings of sadness or indifference (http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm).
 
 
Color is also tied to temperature.  Did you know that being in a blue room can actually make you feel colder?  It may be wise to have a blue space in your home if you live in a warm climate.  This would not only cool down your guests but save you a little bit of money on air conditioning.  The same would work with a red room in a cold climate, for example.
 
 
What about neutrals?  The above picture is a color palette called Harvested Hues composed by design-seeds.com.  It is an example of neutrals, which can be used as a backdrop to virtually any color or work fine on their own.  A common misconception about neutrals is that they are only composed of grey and tan tones.  Subdued versions of colors found in nature work as neutral tones, as well, such as pale blues and greens.

The things to keep in mind when it comes to color are that they evoke a wide range of emotions and can mean different things to different people.  When choosing a color for a space think of what feelings you want the room to suggest and go from there.  Remember, there is more than one right answer!  Also, do not rule out a neutral palette.  This can be calming and sophisticated when used properly.  Use this new insight to look at the world of color with a fresh pair of eyes!

This post was written by Leanne.

Related Links:
Tips for Decorating with Netural Colors
3 Foolproof Rules of Room Design
Best Website for Choosing Paint Colors
Accent Wall Inspiration

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