One of the easiest ways to change the mood of a space is with the introduction of color. Rooms with neutral décor are a wonderful choice as they provide the perfect backdrop for a color palette that can change from season to season, or with the owner’s mood. Look for increasingly eco-conscious neutral palettes to dominate the market in 2009. Natural fibers and textures blend with soothing creams, browns, soft greens, slate grays and other earthy colors to create a warm, comfortable backdrop for living. Complex neutrals are very stabilizing, and with the unpredictability of our current economy they provide a quiet refuge and peaceful surrounding. Benjamin Moore’s “Raw” palette and Sherwin William’s “Local Momentum” both developed for 2009 are excellent examples of the neutral trend.
The other wonderful thing about neutrals is that they provide the perfect backdrop to splash in color in your accessories. Pantone has named “Mimosa”, a warm yellow as the color of the year for 2009. Yellow is such a wonderful hue, perpetually sunny and full of optimism and it is a good reflection of our current state of mind. Last year held many changes, with drastic economic downturns and unforeseen losses. What we need now is a fresh perspective and an optimistic viewpoint. Studies have shown that the brain actually releases more serotonin, the feel good chemical, when a person is surrounded by yellow. It does, however, attract a lot of attention and is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it is very important to use it sparingly. Try tossing some yellow pillows on your sofa or place a fresh bouquet of yellow daisies on your dining room table. Yellow boosts the metabolism so it’s a great color for an exercise room, but it isn’t a good choice for a nursery where brighter shades of yellow have been shown to make babies cry more.
Purple came in very strong last year, especially deep blue-purple shades. This year expect to see purple softened into smoky amethyst and paler lavender tones that make wonderful accent shades against a neutral palette. Lighter and fresher, the lavenders of this season infuse the calming qualities and quiet state of mind associated with blue, with the mysterious and dreamlike spiritual qualities of purple. Paler shades of purple are wonderful stress relievers and refreshing accent colors. They calm and soothe the mind, and evoke romantic feelings. Not ready to paint a wall purple? Put some punch into your basic white table settings by adding lavender glassware or a bouquet of irises. Natural polished amethyst crystals are a great bowl filler, while amethyst geodes make an interesting and earthy accent placed on a coffee table or bookcase. Fill a vase with lavender and place it on a bedside table where both the color and the scent will relax. Sherwin Williams’ “Conscious Luxury” palette combines mineral hues like mother of pearl and warm metallic shades with beautiful soft plums and pale blues.
The most important thing to ask yourself before changing the color scheme of a room is “what mood do I want to create?” Is the room active or passive? If it’s a room you want to relax in stay away from reds, oranges and bright yellows. Red, in small doses, is a wonderfully warm and vibrant color that encourages social interaction. It is deep, strong and dramatic, even comforting. But in large quantities red can be too intense, raising blood pressure and over stimulating the senses. Red makes a beautiful accent color. It is optimistic, vibrant, energetic and inviting. Expect to see lots of red, in small doses, along with equally vibrant and exotic shades of orange, yellow, and turquoise, as a reflection of our desire to interact with the far away lands that are becoming increasingly closer in the new global economy.
Blue is one of the most universally appealing colors in the spectrum. The calming qualities of blue both psychologically and physiologically have been well documented. It promotes feelings of serenity and peacefulness and overall well-being. It is seen as stable and reliable, as well as tranquil. Physiologically it lowers pulse rate as well as body temperature. Blue, in so many different shades, continues to be a strong influence in design. With environmental consciousness at an all time high expect to see watery aqua blues, sky blues and a myriad of other shades all reflecting a fresh, clean eco-friendly perspective.
Johnna Barrett, Architect
Barrett Design, Inc.