Choosing paint colours for one’s home can be an agonising affair; committing to colour can feel like you’re literally painting yourself into a corner, which if you’re desperately seeking a soothing, calming swathe of hues for the home, can feel like a tortuous, ironic nightmare. No one wants to be anxious about choosing a colour when it's supposed to have the opposite effect.
It was with this problematic situation in mind that we turned to Suzy Chiazzari founder and principal of the Iris School of Colour Therapy and Holistic Design Institute, for her advice on how to pick a slew of soothing colours for the home. Because as important as it is to find paint colours that quell anxiety, it’s just as important to source colour that you love, can live with and will keep you invigorated—a tall order when you consider the rainbow of choice on offer.
“Colour is a non-verbal form of communication that we use to express who we are,” Chiazzari tells Vogue Living. “We are all individuals and we react to colour differently depending on our experiences, culture, age and gender so we need to pay attention to our colour preferences.”
Noting that the practice of colour therapy considers light and colour a gift from nature that both enriches our lives and affects our moods, Chiazzari explains it’s wise not to discount how important selecting a colour for your space can be. All of which is particularly prevalent now that 2020 has forced us to reassess our homes and how we live in and enjoy these spaces.
“Colour affects all our primary functions as well as our moods and emotions so it has a profound effect on our thoughts and behaviour,” Chiazzari continues, adding, “colour therapeutics helps you discover which hues make you feel comfortable and happy. Colour schemes in books and magazines may be inspirational but it is far better to be surrounded by colours you love.”
Here, Vogue Living takes on the challenge of assessing which colours are worthy of your home.
First things first, determine what you want from a paint colour
“We all react differently to colour but there are some universal effects, and in studies, most people find the cool end of the spectrum—green, blue, purple—to be the most mentally calming, but warm neutrals and pastels are emotionally soothing,” Chiazzari explains, warning it’s important to assess the dimensions, light and tone of each room before heading out for supplies.
“When deciding on a colour scheme you need to consider the size and orientation of the room, the mood or atmosphere you wish to create and also any special needs of the people who will be using the space,” Chiazzari continues. This means taking stock of how soothing a colour will be at all times of the day and night, how lighting will affect the space, how you use the space and how your furniture or art will sit against the new colour too.
Colours to consider for the whole home
If you're thinking about repainting the interior of your home to refresh things, but want something calming and neutral that will serve the whole home, Chiazzari recommends “fresh, light and cool tones, like aqua or asparagus or pale leaf green, which work well with a range of neutral tones” and help to de-stress the mind.
Think outside the box about applying these hues to your home and consider washing the floor in a soothing and refreshing green, painting kitchen cabinets in pale hue or simply going down the feature wall route. Let neutrals like eggshell, linen, alabaster and oat anchor these colours.
Colours to consider for a living room
For the living or family room areas Chiazzari asks that you determine what “aspect of your life you want to soothe” before reaching for the paint brush: “Physically soothing [colours] could be all shades of blue, from pale to deepest indigo,” says the holistic interior designer, adding, “emotionally soothing [colours] include pale pinks, peach, and lilac tones, while mentally soothing [colours] include ivory, taupe, cream and green.”
Of course, the living room is a space in which we spend a lot of time, so Chiazzari acknowledges that one colour may become stale fast, so she recommends varying the tones of the colour you select from light to dark and adding “accent colours to add visual interest to make a living room feel welcoming and alive.”
Colours to consider for a bedroom
Bedrooms require a little extra care and attention as we begin and end our days here: “Have a darker tone at the head of the bed wall as this mimics nighttime and helps you sleep, but a lighter warm tone in the rest of the room to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and alert,” Chiazzari recommends.
If a striking tone like a prussian or grey blue, deep wine or forest green seems too much too soon, trial a dark hued headboard to get a feel for living with such a bold colour. The rest of the room, as Chiazzari mentions, can be washed in a warmer inviting tone like peach, magnolia, butter or honeysuckle.
Colours to consider for a bathroom
Bathrooms are areas in which you can certainly push your limits while keeping things both calm or refreshing. An ensuite, for example, may be a place you prefer to use exclusively for relaxation and be exclusive to your usage. If that’s the case, Chiazzari advises opting into cool tones but keep things fresh with wallpaper or arresting tiles.
“Neutrals like white, cream, beige, combined with accents in a more vibrant colour always keeps a bathroom fresh but feeling friendly,” says Chiazzari. Family bathrooms, especially shower-only ones or smaller powder rooms may serve you better as invigorating spaces. If this is the case, choose a palette that’s both brighter and warmer—think yellows, oranges or even purple shades.
Colours to consider for a home office
It's a space that feels all the more important now, and it certainly deserves a fresh lick of paint after the hours you’ve spent (and will continue to spend) in there now that working from home is commonplace. “Creative people may prefer an invigorating environment with plenty of vibrant colours, but people who do concentrated work may prefer something less distracting,” Chiazzari explains, noting red and orange are shades to avoid as they are “physically stimulating and can make you feel tired or even give you a headache after a while.”
What Chiazzari does recommend is to avoid commercial office cliches and select hues that “bring out your personality and support your skills and talents”. If you’re someone who works with a lot of references, a shade that acts as a blank canvas—grey, cream, taupe, or even buttermilk yellow—won’t distract, but will still support you.
Those who want soothing stimulation may want to think outside the box, especially if the rest of your home is quite neutral, and really have fun with colour. A splash of pastel or warm tones of pink, are said to help with concentration and even improve focus. On the flipside, a bold blue or green can boost productivity and have you feeling meditative.
Written by Lilith Hardie Lupica.
This article originally appeared on Vogue Living Australia.