“Color is, simply stated, broken down white light. This is a dissection of light at different wavelengths and each wavelength is perceived as a separate color. Objects tend to absorb or reflect these wavelengths, so when we see a yellow lemon, it is the yellow wavelength that is being reflected while all others are being absorbed.” (1) However, that technical definition while accurate does not even touch on the dynamic power of color. Color can be the most influential part of your day, your mood, even your decision making. “There is a reason why people prefer certain colors over others. This preference says volumes about our personalities because each color has an association with a reaction our brain has when we internalize it.” (1). A Good example of this is the Mardi Gras colors. According to mardigrasneworleans.com, Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872. The 1892 Rex Parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” gave meaning to the colors: purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. According to the website, Mardi Gras colors influenced the choice of school colors for arch-rivals Louisiana State University and Tulane University. They say when LSU was deciding on its colors, the shops in New Orleans had stocked up on purple, green, and gold material for the Mardi Gras season. LSU decided upon purple and gold and bought much of it. Tulane bought much of the only remaining color -- green!
This is a perfect example of how our color choices reflect us as individuals, as a community, and as a statement of what we are trying to project to others.
A quick lesson in design: there are three major objectives when designing a room; mood, function, and style. The color has the most effect on mood. (personally, my favorite)
With this in mind, try to imagine all the rooms in your house. What colors are in them? Think… on the walls, on the furniture, in the décor? Does it express the feeling you want to project in that space of your house? Does it invoke that particular mood that the room is intended for? I invite you to reflect on the notion of color; what it is, what it represents, and what it means to you personally and in your living space.
I’m going to start by giving you an example of how Theresa, our most experienced salesperson, has decorated her house. While listening to her describe the colors, the application process and the new color schemes she has recently chosen for her two new chairs, I could see the parallel in her color choices and her personality. I’ve been working with Theresa for two years- and anyone who has met her can’t deny it: her personality is all over her house! While reading this further, reflect on what the colors say about each room- and especially, the mood it creates!
Here are some pictures Theresa shared of her home. I could not help but giggle at how much the colors, especially the wall paint, reflected her so accurately. This woman is bouncy, energetic, extremely focused, and almost always smiling. Her house reflects her spiritual and persistent energy in her paint colors and accents. Take a look:
Sponge-Applied Chilli Pepper Red
Eggplant Curtains & Accent Pillows
Pretty in Pink Coral: Ceiling hand painted by artist, Carl Hilt
Side note: You can even see her favorite colors in her work out outfits!
“Ever heard that adding more orange to your wardrobe will liven things up? That’s because, in many Western cultures, orange is considered a fun and edgy color, and represents curiosity, trying new things, and creativity.” (3)
And now for… Color and Culture
“Culturally speaking, colors have different values attached to them too. A bride in the western world wears white, whereas it is what a widow wears in South Asia…Color stimulates our brain, and from the ancient times has proven to be useful alternative psychotherapy. The Egyptians and Chinese used colors to heal, a process that is known is chromotherapy. Colors were used to in order to help the body function better.” (1)
Each part of the world not only associates colors differently, but some traditions assign colors with particular festivals or days in general. In fact, in Thai tradition, each day of the week is assigned a specific color and is linked with a particular god. Red is the color for Sundays, and it’s associated with Surya, a solar god, who was born on this day. Many Thai people pay their respects to Surya by wearing red on his birthday each year. (3)
Coincidentally, we have a rug vendor named Surya, but their name is based on a city in India where they are made, but where Surya is also a sun god. However, while they share the same god, they do not share the same meaning for the color red. In India, red is associated with purity (1). And back to the wedding traditions: not white, but red is what they go for.
“Red is also representative of a certain time and place in one’s personal life, including when a woman gets married. A married woman can be identified by the red henna on her hands and the red powder, known as sindoor, worn along her hairline.” (3)
For more information on the meanings of colors around the world, check out this LINK.
So... how to incorporate your color personality and culture into your home...
Which brings me to… Color psychology
“The reason that many offices have a lot of greys, blues, and browns incorporated in their décor is that these colors tend to increase productivity. Yet, this is not a rule of the thumb. This does hold true for a corporate environment, but if one were to work say for example in the fashion industry, or the media, the use of brighter and more “colorful” paints would help encourage creativity.” (1)
Personality Based on Color:
- Associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
- Red Enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.
- It attracts attention more than any other color, at times signifying danger.
- Projects uniqueness and authenticity
- Provokes enthusiasm, sympathy, and personality, significance in life
- Idealistic, spiritual and sincere. Evokes integrity and unity in relationships
- Peaceful, flexible and imaginative; associated with romantics, poets, and nurturers
- Combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow.
- Associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics.
- Represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
- Associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
- Produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates
- Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color.
- When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect.
- It is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms.
- Yellow indicates honor and loyalty. Later the meaning of yellow was connected with cowardice.
- The color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility.
- Strong emotional correspondence with safety.
- Dark green is also commonly associated with money.
- Has great healing power.
- Green suggests stability and endurance.
- The color of the sea. It is often associated with depth and stability.
- Symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
- Considered beneficial to the mind and body.
- Slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.
- Strongly associated with tranquility and calmness.
- Used to symbolize piety and sincerity.
- Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red.
- Associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition.
- Associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.
- Associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity.
- Considered to be the color of perfection.
- Signifies safety, purity, and cleanliness.
- Usually has a positive connotation.
- Can represent a successful beginning.
- Depicts faith and purity.
- Associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.
- A mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes).
- Usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’).
- Denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color.
- The symbol of grief.
Tips from Theresa…
“The Basics: To begin to understand color's emotional impact, start with these color groups:
Pales - Their light, airy qualities make pale hues feel uplifting.
Neutrals - It's no surprise that earthy, nuanced colors keep you grounded.
Whites - Pure and pristine, these timeless colors offer a blank canvas to express your style.
Deeps - Bring drama to a room with colors that are rich and mysterious.” (4)
“I find many customers go with a Neutral, and use color for their accents, like pillows and rugs. I try to avoid Whites when it comes to furniture that’s heavily used because no matter how much you promise yourself you’re going to take care of it, it WILL get dingy, dirty, smudged. If you insist on getting white - get protected. Pales are my favorite for blending and Deeps are my favorite for contrast.” Here is a basic lesson for new color experimenters.
Let’s start with:
THE COLOR WHEEL!!
Now…How to use it!
Split Complimentary Colors:
The split-complementary color scheme is a variation of the complementary color scheme. In addition to the base color, it uses the two colors adjacent to its complement. This color scheme has the same strong visual contrast as the complementary color scheme but has less tension.
Analogous Complimentary Colors:
“This was a really fun project to work on. My customer was a master quilter and really skilled at picking different materials and textures to place next to each other. We were a great match and we were really happy with the final product!”
Don’t forget about statement pieces:
Rugs, lamps, pillows, artwork...
As Amy puts it, “Color is one of the things that evoke emotion, it sets a mood, and it subliminally makes us feel. Color has amazing powers. It’s my new superhero!”
“Color is my favorite color. If you learned anything from my little self-discovery, I hope that it is not to limit yourself where color is concerned. You need color to live, feel and prosper. Now go and discover new colors.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I hope you have fun with what you have learned about the dynamic power of color and you are inspired to express yourself with the colors of your home and your furniture! : ) And now that you know a little more about color and the associations tied to them, I thought you would like to know the Doerr team’s favorite colors. So… here’s a list of their answers, the exact way they answered me:
List of the Doerr Family’s favorite color:
-Pam: green (but after hearing Mary’s answer, she wants to add purple)
-Mary: (hesitating… pink, purple… both pink and purple
-Greg: Blue (said with conviction)
-Jennifer: Um... I guess like a sage, seafoam-ish green
-Amy: hmm..I’m too Jaded, Rainbow ( But we know now that her favorite color is “color itself”- *wish I thought of that lol : )
-Deborah G: Green
-Karen D: Blue
-Judy S: Teal or Aqua
-Julian: used to be Burgundy but now its blue (he had some deep reasons behind this color preference shift, he had obviously pondered this before lol)
-Richard: Emerald Green
-Theresa: Depends on the day. Purple or orange lol
-Deborah D: Turquois or teal
-Glenn: Blue for me!!
-Pammie: Coral & Teal & Cerise ; )
-Anita: Rose Gold
-Judy M: mm…probably red. I like red
- Dena Przybyla. “The Psycology and Meaning of Colors.” Color psycology.org, 2018
- Original article by Jennifer Krynin, edited by Jeremy Girard. Girard, Jeremy. "Visual Color Symbolism Chart by Culture." ThoughtCo, Jan. 7, 2018, thoughtco.com/visual-color-symbolism-chart-by-culture-4062177.
- Smart Travel. “What Colors Mean in Other Cultures.” Huffigtonpost.com, Jan 26, 2017