Color in the Home - Applying Color

Color in the Home - Applying Color

More than just evoking feelings and affecting thoughts or behavior, color has the capacity to transform our lives. Individual colors can affect how comfortable we are in various environments, our moods, how we interact with others, even how others perceive us. If we examine our own personal use of color-what we wear-we can begin to see how this process works. Wearing hot pink will make us feel confident or emboldened; yellow, more cheerful or talkative; while black has the capacity to make us feel with drawn or "shut off" from the world. Consider the emotional properties of color - are we green with envy, red with rage, sad or just feeling blue?

The same principles apply to manipulating and applying colors in the home. Color determines the ambience of a room and therefore our experience in it. Does the room make you feel energized or depressed? Can you relax there, concentrate or study there, have discussions there? The more we understand and explore how this process works, the more we can create spaces which work to our advantage.

Color and Light

Light contains all colors, each with its own frequency. So when applying color, we're also working with light. Every space - each home, room, windowsill, courtyard - is different, and every space's light quality depends on many things. These include aspect, size, sources of natural and artificial light, decorative elements, materials and finishes. Light is reflected or absorbed, creating illusions of depth, movement, energy and size; dark colors absorb more light than lighter colors. Insertions of color in a room will create movement and energy in that area. And that's where Feng Shui steps in - apply a particular color to focus on a particular sector in your life and you will draw energy to that area.

It is worth noting that black is symbolic of the clean slate upon which you can apply the full color spectrum; white is a fresh canvas, evoking the symbolism of innocence. And from white and black, many hues and shades evolve. Yin is the blackness which absorbs all colors; yang is the whiteness which reflects them.

The Color Spectrum

WHITE: White is the yang which reflects all colors. It's symbolic of new beginnings and purity of thought. It's clean, pared - back and vibrant when applied correctly; if not, it can be stark and cold. Apply white freely in bathrooms and kitchens, but avoid using it in children's bedrooms and dining rooms, where its negative associations become evident.

BLACK: Black is the yin which absorbs all colors. If applied excessively, it can be overbearing, depressing, dark. Surprisingly, it is not bad Feng Shui when applied in teenagers' bedrooms or in master bedrooms, but use black as an accent, not as a feature. Avoid using it in young children's rooms, studies or living rooms.

RED: Dominant, stimulating red can reduce the size of a room or increase the size of objects. It is excellent as an accent color to enliven a room with energy and movement, but don't apply it with abandon. It's bad Feng Shui
if applied in the kitchen or dining room, but it's perfect for activating the romance sector of your house or room. Red is associated with warmth, passion prosperity.

ORANGE: A powerful color, orange encourages communication. Think of the sun. Think of fire. Use orange in living rooms, dining rooms and hallways, but not in constrained rooms or in the bedroom. Orange is associated with concentration and intellect. Its negative force is rebellion, so use it sparingly. Use it as an accent color against monochromatic backgrounds.

YELLOW: Associated with intellect and enlightenment, yellow stimulates the brain and aids digestion (one reason it's so good in the kitchen). Positive qualities include optimism and decisiveness; negative qualities are rigidity and exaggeration. Try applying a feature wall in yellow in the kitchen, or simply using a sunny yellow tablecloth or napkins.

GREEN: A symbol of growth and harmony, green is restful, refreshing and balanced. Green is excellent in bathrooms, therapy rooms or in areas for growing plants. Avoid applying it in living spaces, as it may encourage negative qualities such as deceit and envy.

BLUE: Peaceful and soothing, blue is linked to spirituality, mystery and patience. Negatives include suspicion and melancholia. Apply blue in meditation rooms, bedrooms and therapy rooms, and as means of enlarging spaces, but not in family rooms, dining rooms or studies.

PURPLE: Purple encourages vitality. It is dignified and regal. Positive associations are passion and motivation; negatives are mournfulness and force. It is excellent for bedrooms and meditation rooms, but not for bathrooms or kitchens.

PINK: Pink is linked to purity of thought - it has the positive association of happiness and romance, and no negatives. It is suitable for bedrooms, and for activating the romance sector of your room or home, but not for kitchens or bathrooms.

BROWN: Brown suggests stability and weight. Its positives are elegance and safety; its negatives are dinginess, depression and aging. It is excellent for studies, but not bedrooms. Apply it sparingly and thoughtfully. Some of its more earthy tones and hues are great for the living room. Apply with accents of more dominating colors, such as red.

Hallways / Entrances

Hallways and entrances play a pivotal role within the home, often setting the tone for an entire house. Striding into a light, brightly colored hallway can be inviting and seducing, while a dark, dingy, cluttered hallway can be depressing. The hallway imprints our homecoming. Yellow is a perfect color here, as it is optimistic and decisive. Try a bright yellow paint, or mix it with white for a softer lemon - also, combine the paint with mirrors, to increase light. Place daffodils or lilies on a side table. Try a yellow ottoman which doubles as storage. What about a yellow umbrella stand? Orange is also good, as it's powerful and cheerful. If an entire orange wall is not your cup of tea, try combining it as a feature against a pale gray background. Paint the skirting boards, or the handrails on the stairwell, orange. Paint your own canvas-a sunset or field of flowers. But don't do all these things at once!

The Bedroom

As the bedroom is predominantly a place of rest, romance and rejuvenation it should be predominantly yin. Purple, pink, blue and green are excellent bedroom colors, each with its own impact and mood - enhancing qualities. Try a sumptuous silk bedspread in plum or deep purple - not only will it incite passion, but it is also dignified, regal and good Feng Shui. Scatter the bed with plump pink, lilac or white cushions. For a softer look, consider pink mohair rug over a cappuccino-colored bedspread and crisp white sheets. For a dramatic look, use black, but be light-handed, as black can be oppressive. Use it as an accent or highlight in prints, lampshades, sleek bedside tables or cabinets. The color orange is not conducive to the intimacy of the bedroom, as it's too mentally stimulating and powerful. And a word of warning: avoid peach. "Peach-Blossom Luck" is a famous concept in China, pertaining to a husband or wife with a roving eye. Apply peach in your bedroom and you're asking for trouble if you're married! Lastly, don't forget the romance sector in the bedroom - activate it with two red candles, poetry and images of you with your loved one.

Children's Bedrooms

White, despite its innocent associations, is bad news in children's bedroom, where its stark and cold connotations blossom. Children love to be in a warm, secure environment - so opt for warm blues, pink, purple or pastels .Try wallpaper with fun motifs (select them with your child), hang mobiles, add bright screens to create a barrier which divides the play area from the sleep area. If the child has not chosen the colors, select shades and hues to reflect the child's personality - cooler ones to balance an active child and brighter ones to stimulate an introverted character. Equally, red or orange is not suitable for children's bedrooms, as both colors are too mentally stimulating and may make it difficult for children to relax at night. If your child loves these colors, use them as accents; for example, in cushions and toy sets. Should these colors be unavoidable, cover the dominantly colored areas with a yin cloth - blue or purple - at night. Applying black in a teenager's bedroom is permissible, but only as an accent color. Avoid it in young children's rooms. Its associations could be too overbearing or oppressive.

The Living Room

As a conversation area, the living room needs to be more yang than yin. Orange and bright tones in the living room encourage lively communication and interaction with family, loved ones and guests. This space is best when it's welcoming and energized. If painted in a single color, small areas of stimulation - such as brightly colored sculptures, artwork, flowers or tapestries - are necessary to keep the energy moving. And in conjunction with color, allow as much natural light in as possible. Try soft tangerine or ocher armchairs, an ottoman upholstered in terracotta to either sit on or put your feet up on. For the brave, try a wild orange shag-pile rug or comfortable beanbag against a more tonal backdrop. Avoid using green in the family room, as it may encourage its negative qualities - envy and deceit. Equally, black is no good, and blue can drain the color and energy from a living space. Too much dark brown will feel sluggish and depressing. Try bright wall hangings, pictures, tapestries or rugs to compensate if there is a lot of dark furniture (yin).

The Kitchen and Dining Area

Places for sharing and nourishing, the kitchen and dining areas in your home are great locations for yellow and orange walls, trims or insertions. Particularly if the dining room is located in the center of the house, an area associated with the element Earth. As a general rule, colors in these areas should be predominantly yang, positive colors - although red could be too domineering. Softer shades and hues of red or pink can be applied; a red and white checked tablecloth, a bowl of red apples, salmon - colored napkins, a red sculpture or vase on a sideboard. But use it sparingly. Strictly speaking, a bold red is not the most suitable color for dining rooms or kitchens. Neither are blue, pink or purple, which are best kept for the bedroom. White can be applied in kitchens, with wooden countertops in a sumptuous hardwood, with terracotta walls and earthy furnishing. Fabrics could be in lemon check, with bold cushions in a persimmon. Use daffodils with abandon. Another good option for the kitchen is green, since the Wood element, represented by green, supports. Fire and is supported by Water, both of which will inevitably be in use in the kitchen (Fire =oven; Water sink and refrigerator).

The Bathroom

In Feng Shui, an auspicious bathroom combination is white and green-white is pure and clean, and green is restful and refreshing. The use of green removes any possible negatives which may result from the application of white. A blue bathroom is also soothing and contemplative, a great place to unwind or take long baths or showers. If the toilet is in view (bad Feng Shui), try applying a modular glass screen, an alcove or shelving. Yellow, purple and pink are unsuitable colors in the bathroom. If these colors are present, try repainting in a more suitable color scheme. Go for a blue tiles, detailing, materials, finishes. Enhance with pale blue towels, wooden blinds and glass bottles along the windowsill; hang a crystal and make the space dance with light. Images of the sea, fish or mermaids are also good.

The Home Office or Study

While brown has many negative associations in the home - including in the bedroom, where it can be stifling and oppressive - it is an excellent choice for the home office or study. Brown suede wallpaper can look great. An elegant antique desk in walnut will stabilize the space. Black is too oppressive and weighty in a study and can be psychologically depressing. If the study is a small room, stay away from orange. Equally, green is not ideal for a study environment - although the use of plants will bring balance, adding yin to the yang of electrical devices such as computers and printers. Blue in this environment is too contemplative and serene. The home office tends to be more yang than a study, as it has more contact with the outside world. Look at which areas you seek to improve and focus on these areas, adding a splash of color to brighten the space - a red lampshade, for example, might be just the mental stimulation you need.

Feng Shui tradition claims that people respond positively to defined spaces for life's defined activities - eating, cooking, sleeping, socializing, playing, working. Create barriers between spaces using colorful, bright screens between bedroom / study, kitchen / dining room, hallway / bathroom, living room/children's play area. Why not design or paint your own?

Apply color to focus on a particular sector in your life and you will draw energy to that area. Red, hot pink, and bright oranges are associated with warmth, passion, prosperity and the element Fire. These colors are excellent when used as accents, to enliven a room with energy, movement and spark. Red is perfect for activating the romance sector, but avoid using it in the kitchen or dining room.

Using orange tones or objects in the kitchen or dining room is considered auspicious, as this color stimulates the appetite, and encourages sharing, nourishing and communication. If the dining room is located in the center of the house (an area associated with the element Earth), these positive characteristics will be even more pronounced.

A decorative chair has been added to this home office - it adds a splash of color for mental stimulation and enhances the fame sector of the office. Because of their contact with the outside world and various electrical devices (computers, printers), home offices tend to be yang, so use bright colors sparingly and thoughtfully. A backdrop of earthy tones in the home office will create an atmosphere of stability and elegance.

These Vietnamese lanterns are a colorful, stimulating addition to the hallway of an inner-city home. Hallways and entrances often set the tone for the rest of the house, so they should be brightly lit and colored.

Light contains all colors, each with its own frequency. So when we're applying color, we're also working with light. And every space's light quality will be particular to that space - it will depend on many things, including size, aspect, objects, materials, finishes and natural and artificial light sources. These bottles of vinegars and chilies enliven the energy in an otherwise stagnant, disused corner of a country kitchen.

Ensure the bedroom remains a special place of escape, rejuvenation, rest, romance. Keep it clutter free. Create sacred spaces. Yin colors are the most effective; try purple, pink, blue or green - each is restful and conducive to the affairs of the bedroom. A chaise longue placed in the bedroom for relaxing on will assist in creating an atmosphere for retreat.

Animals and their symbolism are deeply rooted within Chinese culture. Pets are considered Feng Shui luck symbols, but traditionalists still consider it necessary to make sure that the color and pattern of pets' bedding is in harmony with the elemental energy of their sleeping position.

Color is especially useful in dark corners and plain undecorated areas. Here, worn-out decking is brought to life with vibrant cushions.

Though dark furnishings, leathers and wood combined together are elegant, where there is no relief the result can be gloomy. To remedy bad Feng Shui, invigorate areas such as this with splashes of color. A cushion with a hot pink trim was all it took to add spark to this handsome leather couch.

This plain, undecorated corner of a stainless steel kitchen countertop with an old wooden chopping board is brought to life with an orange glass bowl, a reflective tray and ceramic vases. The result creates much more impact and increases the positive Qi in that stagnant corner.

As well as being inauspicious Feng Shui, this empty platter on an antique table in a country dining room looks dull and lifeless. The bowl of fruit not only adds a spark of color, it instantly diffuses negative Qi associated with "emptiness." The dining room represents a family's abundance, wealth and prosperity, so displaying food or images of food is very good Feng Shui. Filling empty bowls, bottles and platters with beautiful objects, fruit, pebbles, crystals, rocks or shells is also a good idea.