The Power of Color

Painting Kitchen

Yellow Kitchen

It’s really tough to be scientific about “color”.  Most people will look at a color and say “it is what it is” and think no more about the effects that colors can have to make you change the way you perceive a space or an object.   In New Jersey, blue (the color of the ocean) may provide the calming effect the ocean brings.  Each person that looks at the same color is going to see something different within that color family.   A blue may give someone a fuzzy feeling when someone else may think it plain boring.  That’s what makes decorating a personalized subject.  Not everyone is going to like the color schematic you choose….but who cares as long as you like it.


To use color wisely, you must learn 3 things about color:

  • How color affects the way you perceive the size of a room.
  • How color affects the way you feel.
  • Color harmony, combinations, and aesthetics.

Colors Impact on Size

How would you like to move walls in or out or change the height of the ceilings without doing any construction?  Color can help achieve this (to a certain point).  To make the ceiling seem higher, paint it the same color as the walls.  To make a small room appear larger, paint it a light color.  Light colors make objects (furnishings) seem larger; dark colors weigh them down.  Bright colors make them stand out and pop; softened colors make them blend in with the back ground.

Color Impacts on your Feelings

Everyone has an emotional response to colors.  This response carries through to the color of clothes we buy to the color of cars that we favor.  Below are some generalized feelings about colors taken from a survey of people:

  • Blue- Feels distanced and reserved.
  • Red- Feels stimulated.
  • Yellow- Feels energizing.
  • Orange- Feels stimulating and inviting.
  • Green- Feels soothing and relaxing.
  • White- Feels calming and uncluttered

This is just a survey of what people think and how they feel about each color.  By no means, paint your rooms based on the feelings each color brings as described above.  Your views may differ widely and your feelings are the only ones that count.  If you are unsure about colors and don’t want to paint a room quite yet, try some easy –to-change accessories like pillows instead of taking on the laborious task of painting only to have to redo it again.

Color Harmony

To understand how to put colors together, you need to understand the effects of color combinations.  Below are the most often used color combinations:

  • Complimentary harmony-  Sharp contrasting colors.
  • Triadic harmony-  Three different colors but with the same depth or intensity.  The key is to get a balanced look.
  • Analogous harmony-  Two or three different colors from the same color family.
  • Monochromatic harmony-  One single color used in different intensities.

Don’t let the fancy wording scare you!  They are only titles of the process.  The concept is simple.


Applying texture to your walls can significantly separate the feelings each room portrays.   If you run your hand across a textured wall, you immediately know it is different than ordinary wall finishes and it makes you think.  These thoughts take place in a nano-second and can’t be measured on a scale…only in your mind.  Look around the entire textured room.  The colors and accessories may compliment the vibes you get from the walls.  A great example of where texture can play a huge factor is when it is used in a family room.  The family room is used for relaxation and down time.  It shouldn’t be colored in over-bearing tones and the wall texture doesn’t have to be formal.  Many plasterers can give you a great sense of where to apply a textured finish.  Be prepared when painting the walls.  You will need an extra thick nap roller and plan on using much more paint than your regular finished walls.

The Solution

Paint trim, doors, and ceilings the same colors as the walls.  Make window coverings the same color as the walls.  Your larger furnishings can then be in the same color family only in different shades.  There are other things to consider than paint colors to give your room personality but the paint color will be the dominant decision factor on how to decorate the rest of the room.


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