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Color Therapy

by Tess Donelon

During the height of the winter season, few things have the ability to successfully pull us out of that gray-day funk. With cold winter temperatures and little promise for sunny days ahead any time soon, it’s difficult to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” but there are easy ways to better impact your day by making a few simple color changes.

Whether we realize it or not, the colors we surround ourselves with have a huge effect on our moods and emotions. That’s why gray skies and dark days seem to dampen an otherwise optimistic outlook! We spoke with Robin Wilson, designer, author, and founder of Robin Wilson Home and Clean Design Home, about how to incorporate color into our homes, and which colors are best for getting our moods back on track.

What are some examples of colors or color palettes that brighten our mood? Are there any colors that have the opposite effect?

Monochromatic colors brighten our mood – shades of white, blue and pale lilac or grey. However, if you have red or orange, you should think of the fast food restaurants of yesteryear when the entire décor was bright yellow, orange or red. It made you eat fast, leave in a hurry and, in children, it often provoked hyper energy. 

Colors are important and we need to be sensitive to the palette with which we surround ourselves. For example, I have white bed textiles (comforter, sheets) – with a weighted blanket in off-white. This fulfills a need to ‘wind down’ at the end of the day. 

What do you think about the new Pantone colors — a bright yellow and pale gray?

Pantone colors are often reflective of the global mood. I think that pale grey is on the mark – and more exteriors will be painted in the yellow. Plus, more people will wear clothing, handbags and have office accessories in the bright yellows. We are all signaling to each other that we want calm and that we also want to welcome spring and summer!

Do you have any tips on a color that works better in a workspace/home office as opposed to a living or dining room?

I recommend pale blues or greys in the office and would not put that color into the dining room – as you want to have a space that stimulates conversation.

What are some tips on how to incorporate color into our homes?

Color should reflect what you like, and create a “flow” in your space. So many spaces are open or interconnected, and I do not recommend the 1980s answer of every room being a showspace. Perhaps today, allow one room, such as a dining room or a foyer to be the showspace with a bold color. But the rest of the home should feel calming – especially your sleeping space.

One of the coolest new designer tricks is to use ‘removable wallpaper’ which is similar to a huge post-it note. You can change a space in a few hours and it is not permanent. This can work well with rental apartments whose tenants want an accent wall, or with those who want to experiment with a color before painting it on the walls. I highly recommend removable wallpaper as a way to incorporate color and it is a DIY project so that you can stay safe during the pandemic.

If you have a limited budget, I recommend going to an antique store and buying ‘well-made’ brown furniture. So many people overlook the excellent craftsmanship due to the dated colors. But, this past summer, I was able to get a 10-foot bookcase (that was ceiling height!) for $300 from Renovation Angel – a wonderful store that rescues kitchens and furniture from the landfill. With some sanding, priming and painting, this brown furniture became a bright new color and, with my carpenter’s help, the piece now looks like a built-in. This solution has helped me have a piece of solid furniture on a DIY budget!

Lastly, if you research chalk paint, it is a way to create a DIY weekend to rescue furniture that might otherwise end up in a landfill. If you don’t have time or space to sand/prime/stain, you can paint chalk paint right over the surface after a light sanding, even if the furniture is a bit scratched. This is a way to be sustainable because otherwise this furniture might end up in a landfill. I also recommended this to a design client and she was able to transform her space with an heirloom piece for the same price as a big box disposable piece of furniture!


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