Colors: Fact or Opinion

Many myths about color are taught to us from a very young age and we bring them into every part of our lives, from what we wear to how we design our house. Everyone has opinions about color and what is just opinion or fact is hard to decypher.

“Any colorist who gives himself to generalities, such as red excites and blue calms, without an understanding of psychological and neuropsychological aspects that play an important role, will soon find out that he cannot achieve the desired effect.

When designing with color we must always see color in context, and not adopt the generalities. Although they might be true, we must first analyze if they pertain to a particular design situation.”

— Frank Mahnke, Color, Environment, & Response

What Frank Mahnke says is completely true. With context, something that you think may not work at all could be the best possible design decision you could choose. So when thinking about breaking the boundaries of what is accepted and safe in a room, context will be your best friend.

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Certain color combinations being taboo is an easy myth to break. Just because it is thought of as taboo does not mean that it can’t be interesting in the right situation. If you have a very neutral room, throwing together the color combination that is thought of to be bad (Such as brown/navy, red/teal, pink/orange) and creating it to be the focal point of the room can really make it work.

Dark wall colors will not always name a room smaller, which is one of the most common myths I hear thrown about. If you want darker walls to work in a room, make sure it is a room with ample light. One of the biggest reasons a room feels small with dark walls is because light does not bounce off a dark wall as well as a light wall. Using a higher gloss paint can help bring light to the room as well. Alongside that, the white, baseboards, and ceiling will keep the room feeling light.

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Blue is not always as soothing as people like to tote it as. Some shades of blue can be very calming, but a bright turquoise or electric blue is anything but. Soft robins egg blue or indigo is great for calming effects, but if you still want to use blue in a more exciting way, you aren’t out of luck in the least.

Neutrals are not just grays, creams, and browns. Any color in nature that occurs can be put into a neutral space in small amounts, or more if it’s muted and grayed out versions of itself. That color can even become the central color in the neutral palette. Bringing these natural tones into the room will keep it interesting without becoming overbearing.

There are many ways to utilize color that is experimental and fun, breaking the mold and creating a truly unique space. Try things out and see what kind of unexpected utilization of color you can come up with!


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