Color is IN again!!! And thank goodness because when used wisely, colors can play a significant role in creating a happy home life.
We are affected psychologically and physiologically by colors. Colors affect our mood, heart rate, alertness, and stress levels. The perception of color is mostly rooted in the subconscious and our relationships with colors are impacted by personal life experiences.
In this third post of the Happy by Design series, I cover the impacts of primary colors on the mind and body and offer suggestions for coloring your home with happiness.
Red & the Physiology of Color
As the color on the highest end of the light spectrum, red has the longest wavelength and is the first color babies are able to distinguish.
Of all the colors on the wheel, red is the most powerful! It brings to mind red-hot rage and romance. It’s the color of cupid and the devil, roses and poison, fruit and fire. It says stop, danger, anger, revenge…and sex, love, desire, and courage.
How can this one color communicate so many contradictory emotions and symbols?
It’s now understood that the human eye plays a physiological roll beyond just sight. Some retinal ganglion cells found in the eye send signals to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that plays no part in forming visual images.
The hypothalamus coordinates the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary gland, both of which release hormones. The hypothalamus is responsible for many aspects of the body’s self-regulation, including the control of body temperature, blood pressure, sex drive, sleep, and emotional activity.
This means that when the eye visually detects a color, some of the information communicated from that color is transmitted to the hypothalamus and the body physically responds with the secretion of hormones.
This is also true for people with monochromatic vision, or total color blindness. These people are only able to see the world on a grey scale ranging from black to white, however the signals sent by colors still triggers the release of hormones and a physiological reaction.
It’s been found that red increases heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, metabolism, perspiration, respiration, and number of eye blinks. All of these physiological changes increase your physical excitement and cause your energy levels to spike.
Designing for Red? A little bit goes a long way.
Because red is the most powerful color, a little bit goes a long way. And because it’s so excitable, people who are already tense should limit their exposure to red, incorporating it back into daily surroundings once they have balanced their autonomic nervous system.
Red is great as an accent color and should only be used in quantity in areas designed for high energy, such as a gym space.
Red commands attention and draws the eye, making it great for bringing attention to an area of your home that you want people to see. Be careful not to use red in areas that will move the eye away from other spaces of the home that bring health and happiness, like the spectacular view from your windows.
Red flowering plants or the display of red fruits are great ways to include bold but temporary accents of this powerful color. Red is often associated with the ripening and maturation of some of the greatest elements of life - the sweetness of love and the expression of passion.
Blue: It’s Not Just a Color, It’s an Emotion
People respond to colors psychologically with emotional responses unique to the individual. This understanding holds tremendous power for your ability to design your home for happiness!
Blue is the world’s favorite color, and yet it is also the color of sadness.
Blue is the color of the sky on a clear sunny day, a calm vast ocean, and a healthy pristine lake. Because of this natural association, blue calls to mind feelings of calmness, serenity, peace, and tranquility.
Blue is located towards the lower end of the light spectrum and physiologically, blue lowers heart rate, respiration, and body temperature, having the opposite effects of red. This can be beneficial for people who want to slow down and bring more calm energy into their homelife.
However, the calming effects of blue may lower the mood of someone who is already low to the point of depression, hence the term “feeling blue.”
Personal preference can induce different emotional responses to different shades of blue. While you may love turquoise because it reminds you of your grandmother’s necklace, or Caribbean blue because it makes you think of the ocean, you very well may feel uneasy by stormy blue or blues that have more grey tones.
Emotional affiliation to color is so strong that traumatic experiences involving colors can affect your emotional responses to them for the rest of your life. If you were in a horrible accident in a car that was blue you may never want to be around blue again.
Getting clear on how you personally feel when in the presence of different
colors is the key to unlocking the happiness potential for your home!
Designing with Blue? Your feelings matter.
First, spend some time paying attention to how you feel about different colors. Look at pictures of homes that have been designed with different colors of blue. Take note about how those photos make you feel and know that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
Once you are clear on the color choices that bring you the most happiness you can find a designer who is willing to work with your personal preferences while disregarding the current trends or pressure to whitewash to create a “clean” look. (As an aside, white gets dirty pretty easily!)
Good sleep is essential for long-term happiness. Utilizing hues of blue in your bedroom can aid in your ability to unwind and relax.
Designing to enhance your view of blues in nature (ex. lakes, oceans, and clear views of the sky) is the most effective way to incorporate the blues into your home that are the most likely to bring feelings of happiness. Large windows in areas with clear views to these bluescapes can turn a plain wall into Mother Nature’s mural.
Designing water features in outdoor living spaces can create blue in areas that are naturally lacking. There is a lot of science that proves the benefits of living around water. In the documentary, Blue Mind, the benefits of being around or near water include being happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.
As the design firm known for creating Award-Winning Homes with a View, we work with many clients who have realized the importance of being near water and bringing the healing benefits of blue views into their home.
Yellow: It Ain’t All Sunshine
Yellow is a paradox. It carries with it connotations of happiness, laughter, hope, and positivity. Throughout the world, yellow is associated with the sun. It’s perceived as warm, life giving, and optimistic, conjuring images of sunflowers, daffodils, bananas, and bumble bees.
And yet there is a darker side to this bright color. Yellow is also symbolic of cowardice, mental illness, betrayal, and egoism. It’s the color of caution, frustration, and physical illness (think jaundice). It’s the color of sensationalism and excess.
Yellow reflects more light than any other color on the wheel and can easily become excessive, overstimulating the eye and causing irritation.
Physiologically, yellow is energizing. It stimulates the nerves, glands, and brain, increasing alertness. It boosts memory and encourages communication. Yellow promotes activity that can turn to restlessness if not used wisely.
Even though red is the most powerful color, yellow is the most visible color in low light. Its high reflectivity allows it to be visible in the dark long after all other colors have faded. This explains why yellow is used for caution signs, emergency rescue vehicles, and traffic signals in nearly every country.
Designing with Yellow? Proceed with Caution!
Many designers use yellow with as much caution as the color itself commands. Too much bright yellow quickly overwhelms a space. However, paler yellows have great power to bring uplifting energy to create a cheery room.
Since yellow is so energizing it should not be used in the bedroom and other spaces designed for rest and relaxation.
Because of the paradoxical nature of yellow and the inherently stimulating qualities, it’s important for you to check in with how yellow makes you feel. Follow your feelings and only use yellows if they bring a smile to your face.
The yellow rays of the sun are an exception to this rule of caution. A lack of sunshine causes immune suppression, illness, and depression. Along with the myriad of other benefits from the sun, exposure to these yellow rays will brighten your space, enhance other colors throughout your home, and bring a bright cheery energy.
Working with a designer able to design for the path of the sun as it tracks across your property is the best way to invite these yellow rays into your home.
If you live in an area of the world without ample sunshine, yellows in your home can be used to recreate that luminous sensation you may be lacking.
Your plants are also big fans of sunny yellow. Playing with the colors and relationship between the greens of your houseplants and the yellow of the sun will create a vibrant and lively indoor habitat of happiness.
They say you can learn a lot about a person by their preference and use of colors. And your home is one of the greatest expressions of self. Take the opportunity to use color to enhance your YOU-Inspired living.
Expand your palette to include colors that inspire happiness!
Stay tuned for the next blog that will cover my personal favorite colors of orange, green, and purple!
I intend you play with primary colors to prioritize happiness in your home!
Inspired by you,
Jenny Pippin, CPBD, FAIBD, CGP
Pippin Home Designs
I am Jenny Pippin, founder of Pippin Home Designs and creator of my own inspired living. I grew up as an ordinary southern girl, working in the fields of my family’s tobacco farm. It didn’t take me long to realize I had greater gifts and so I chose to step into my power and create my own path in life, inspired by my heart’s true passion. (More on my personal story HERE!)