Color can impact both the look of a room and the mood of those who occupy it. Here's advice on how to choose wisely, plus our favorite colors to fit the vibe you're going for.
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Color is arguably the most important element of design. It can singlehandedly make a room feel cozy and rich or sweet and romantic. It fills our spaces with a feeling, creates character, and can even influence our own moods, whether we are aware of it or not. Different colors and color combinations have different effects on us emotionally, and although we don't all share the same color preferences, we as humans collectively respond to most colors in a similar way.
As a design tool, color is a powerful force. Every color has something to say—even "neutrals." When we choose our paint, flooring, wood finishes, fabrics, light fixtures, and artwork, we are creating a mood. Through color, we define the emotional experience of home and send a message to the world about what we like and who we are.
And while it's important to recognize that every color has its own associated mood, we seldom design our homes using just one single color. Unless we are deliberately seeking to create a monochromatic design, our spaces are filled with color combinations, also known as color palettes. Color palettes allow us to take advantage of more complex moods created through unique color relationships. For instance, white on its own may feel sterile, but when combined with a highly saturated lemon yellow, a room can take on entirely new energy. Through color combinations, we can harness the most desirable qualities of a color and enhance it. We can, in essence, create any mood we'd like.
Here are six examples of different moods that can be achieved through color.
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Mood: Warm and Cozy
Reds, yellows, and oranges are considered warm colors and draw inspiration from elements in nature like fire and the sun. Layering warm tones—think: terra cotta or coral—with a honey-hued wood creates an inviting and cozy feel in any room.
C2 Paints "Fandango," $74.99 per gallon, c2paint.com.
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A color palette of beige, warm whites and green mixed with natural wood feels relaxed and grounded. Bringing the outdoors in is a popular design mantra for a reason—we crave nature's lush hues. Greens, in particular, remind us of spring and enliven us with a feeling of renewal.
Benjamin Moore "Dove Wing," $10.99 per pint, benjaminmoore.com.
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Whimsical and cheerful, a full-spectrum color palette emotes the energy of a magical rainbow. A crisp white background keeps a multi-colored palette from feeling too heavy and cluttered. Who says we can't be surrounded with all the colors we love at once?
Benjamin Moore "Simply White," $10.99 per pint, benjaminmoore.com.
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Sometimes we crave a little drama in our homes. Colors like black, charcoal, indigo, and eggplant are innately mysterious and perfect for creating a den-like retreat.
Sherwin Williams "Sealskin," from $33 per gallon, sherwin-williams.com.