The answer is… more than you know. For instance, did you know that the color yellow is associated with healing? Easy to say things like that, but this has actually been tried and tested, and it seems to hold true more often than not. When someone who is sick is put into a room that is painted a soft yellow color, they seem to have a little quicker pulse, and a sunnier outlook, and that often leads to a faster recovery time.
Red rooms often reflect high emotions such as anger or great passion. But temper that red by mixing it with white to turn it a softer pink, and it can have a much softer effect, even a sweetness to it and to those exposed to it. Conversely, a hot pink room or any warm electric/bright color may effect the occupants with high energy and excitement. They may need only small doses of being in that room, otherwise they may be super wired up all the time. If you have a child who is high strung, soften the colors in their room. Install art in a subject they are interested in so their focus and energy is directed at something they like. They might achieve more goals and be more manageable. Conversely, if your child is a couch potato, liven up the room with brighter colors, and try installing some inspirational art that may boost their imagination and motivation to succeed at something worthwhile.
Rooms painted a darker color, have the most impact when the artwork hung in the room is significantly lighter especially in the matting and framing of the piece. The contrast often makes a very dramatic statement. A really good painting will have a very light area and a very dark area. If you use a dark frame on a dark wall, the frame might get lost – but it might pop the artwork as long as there is a very light area in the painting. If the artwork is not right, a dark room simply looks dark, closed in, and smaller. To some it may seem powerful or very masculine. A dark room can also evoke a dreary and depressing outlook to its occupants if they spend much time in that room, without the right contrasting artwork, furnishings, rugs and window coverings to lighten it up. With the right art and accessories, it can look like a designer’s masterpiece and be a power statement. From one extreme to the other, it’s all in the layers, the finishing touches, and contrast..
When I was still taking classes for interior design decades ago, I recall a study that was done on colors in casinos. Of course the casinos want your stay to be memorable and comfortable. But, they don’t want you to be so comfortable that you don’t leave the room. The casinos don’t make money if you stay in your room, they want you in their casinos spending money. That being said, the challenge was to make the room look great at first glance, but just edgy enough that you don’t want to stay there too long. I recall one such casino hotel had a large room with two queen sized beds. There were nice touches of color here and there, nice bedding, and one nice painting of a vase with flowers in it. But the room was wallpapered with what looked like big gray cement blocks. At first it was fun and a novelty, but after 15 or 20 minutes everyone became restless and wanted to go somewhere else. The walls seemed to close in, the fun factor disappeared.
There really is a science to colors, patterns, and how it effects human nature. Each color effects us differently, and patterned colors also effect us. Busy patterns can be overdone with too much to look at, while open and airy patterns tend to be relaxing. Think of a painting of a sailboat on a calm sea, relaxing, right? Softer blues and greens tend to have relaxing and calming effects. When production facilities were re-painted a soft blue, there were less employee accidents. Paintings of flowers might repel some people who are allergic to flowers or those who are reminded of their grandmother’s house. Conversely the same painting might be great for someone who loves nature and flowers. Really good art should touch you, move you, and resonate with you. Subject matters are subjective to each person. Paintings that are predominantly one color can also have similar emotional effects on people. It depends on how often one looks at that painting, if it reminds you of something else that was pleasant or not so pleasant, and the proportions of that color in that work of art. It also matters if the artwork matches or clashes with other important elements in the room. A harmonious color scheme, including art, is more apt to produce harmonious occupants. Some of our favorite paintings we can stare at and get lost in them for awhile, and leave feeling uplifted or inspired, when others might leave us feeling a little sad or lethargic.
Food for thought: Is your space a sunny and healing environment, a relaxing environment, a powerhouse statement, or one that might look okay at first but makes the people in them want to leave and go somewhere else in a short period of time? If the latter is true, it might not be you, it might be your environment. It might be time to repaint things another color, rearrange the furniture or replace it with new, and make or buy some better pieces of art, art you want to get lost in. Live well with art. 🙂