4 Mood-Boosting Ways to Use Color Therapy to Style Your Home

If you’ve ever felt strangely depressed sitting in a room and can’t exactly pinpoint the reason behind your sudden shift in moods, you could blame it on the interiors. 

We are constantly influenced by our surroundings, and colors play a huge part in this. For example, if you’re surrounded by light pastels, you’re more inclined to feel calm and positive. On the contrary, if you place yourself in a room where colors are harsh and bright, you could either feel motivated or angry and annoyed. 

But this doesn’t mean you should repaint every room in your home a light hue because specific rooms call for specific colors. Plus, color therapy doesn’t just translate to the paint on the walls; you can use materials, textures, and lighting to create the perfect space that serves a purpose for your mental health. Here, interior designer and owner of MARG. Studio Emily MacAlpine, explains how to execute this.

How to use color therapy to style your home

You firstly need to consider the primary function of each room. Ask yourself ‘what is the main activity of this space and how do I want to feel?’

From there, pick a predominant color and tone. 

“Essentially you can use any color in your home in any room, but be mindful of how you use it,” MacAlpine tells Bed Threads Journal. “The tone of a color and its application will dramatically change the way you perceive it and feel.”

You also need to take ‘aspect’ into consideration.

“Aspect plays a big part in how color will look in a space and should be taken into account,” MacAlpine adds. “Northern light is generally perceived by the human eye as much warmer and therefore it draws out warm tones in colors, which make them feel even warmer.” Just take Dulux’s Lamb’s Ear Quarter. The green-white tone appears “too yellow in northern light”, yet can look white if facing south and evoke warmth. 

On the contrary, Porter’s Paint Mist - a more blue-white tone - “makes a north-facing space feel fresh as it counteracts the warmth of the northern light”. 

“Ideally, you want to use the opposite paint color temperature than the natural light you’re receiving,” MacAlpine explains. This means cool colors for north-facing and warm colors for south-facing. 

Still unsure? Test swatch, test swatch, test swatch.

“There will be rooms with a north-west aspect or windows on both the north and south, so make sure you’re always doing a test swatch of paint, or bringing home fabric and hard material samples to see how they look in each specific space.”

What does each color make you feel? 

Colors are subjective, but some have a universal influence on the majority of people. Generally speaking, we associate the below colors with the following emotions:

  • Yellow: happiness, joy, optimism, vitality
  • Orange: socialization, energy, ambition
  • Pink: reduced appetite, love, romance, calm
  • Red: energy, stimulation, confidence, aggressiveness
  • Purple: mystery, creativity, luxury, wisdom
  • Blue: serenity, openness, focus
  • Green: peace, tranquility, prosperity
  • Brown: stability, natural, reliability
  • Black: anger, strength, intelligence
  • White: cleanliness, innocence, purity

“The color yellow is often associated with happiness, vibrancy and is a positive color,” MacAlpine notes. “This tends to be good for kid’s rooms, relaxed sitting rooms, and even to add some freshness to a kitchen.”

“Whereas pink can be associated with reduced appetite, love and romance, so probably not as ideal for a kitchen in its brightest hues.”

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favorite colors at all costs in a certain room because it doesn’t evoke the feeling you’re seeking. 

For example, red is associated with stimulation or aggressiveness - perfect for a gym, as an example - but if you want to use it in the bedroom, you can incorporate it in subtle ways. 

“Try pairing Bed Threads sheets in Ruby or Rust with a Lavender quilt cover for a lighter look, or Mineral for a warm and rich feeling,” MacAlpine adds. 

Shop more of this look with Build Your Own Bundle.

4 expert tips to using color therapy in interiors to boost your mood

1. What effect does color have on you?

“Color affects us all differently, and the application of it should be personal to your own home., Something that looks seamless in a magazine or someone else’s house may not be the right fit for you and your space.

“When planning out your spaces, I would start a mind map of how you want to feel in each space. Do you want to feel snug in your living room, or does it need to feel open and airy?”

2. What’s the lighting situation?

“Color is essentially a product of the light it interacts with, so your lighting plays a huge part in how you control the color in your home. Let’s say you want your bathroom to feel invigorating and assist in waking you up in the morning to get ready for a big day at work. I would be using brighter whites and contrast to make a bolder statement to make me feel alert. 

“But if you want that same bathroom to feel cozy and aid you in going to sleep come the evening, I would ensure to have multiple light sources in the room so I could get low, warm mood lighting in the evening, which will completely change the space.”

3. Can you use a focal point?

“Bold use of color can act as a focal point, so if there’s a wall or direction you want to draw attention to, use color to do it. Conversely, if you want to conceal something, make the colors blend together.”

4. What other materials and objects can you add to a space?

As MacAlpine mentioned above, color doesn’t just have to come from the paint on the walls. Think about how you can change a room’s emotional effect through the use of interchangeable objects such as bedding, throws, cushions, furniture, and paintings. 

Emily MacAlpine is an interior designer and Director of MARG. Studio. Follow her on Instagram @bemoremarg.

Want to find out more on how to correctly use color therapy to improve your mental health? Here’s your complete guide.

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