Interior Design – Understanding the Color Palette

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 42,411
    Interior decorator Denise Willard discusses color palettes for interior design in your home.

    Denise Willard

    Denise Willard is the president of Decor by Denise, a full-service interior decorating firm based in Vienna, Virginia. For nearly a decade, Denise and her staff have transformed the homes of clients in the Disctrict of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. With her talent in color selection, space planning, interior arrangement, window treatments and fabric decor, she helps her clients transform their homes from ordinary to extraordinary! The combination of her southern roots and urban lifestyle can be seen in her transitional design style, which combines the comfort and hospitality of the south with the flair of the big city. Denise has been professionally trained in all aspects of interior decorating, including the newest trends in redesign and feng shui. In addition, she is a certified real estate staging professional, as designated by Realty Enhancements International. Denise and her staff take a hands-on approach to every project, providing each client the personalized attention he or she deserves. Denise maintains professional memberships and affiliations with the Interior Design Society, Realty Enhancements International, the Interior Arrangement and Design Association, the Washington Design Center, eWomenNetwork, the Interior Design Directory, the Redesign Directory and the Better Business Bureau.

    Hi, I am Denise Willard of Decor by Denise. Today I am here to discuss the psychology of color and how best to leverage it in building the perfect color palette for your home. Right now we are going to focus on the psychology of color and the color palette. Having said that, let's start with the color palette. We have probably all seen this at one point or another in our lifetime and have grown up with that as children. What you will see as you look at the color palette is there is a myriad of colors starting with warm tones, which you can see represented over here to the right, and cooler tones, which are represented over here to the left. Each of these colors as you move around the color wheel evokes a different emotion. Those emotions or moods are really important to consider before you go off and start picking colors for your home. So, what we are going to do is a quick spin around the color wheel and talk about those various moods and emotions, so we can better understand therefore what colors we might want to pick down the road for your palette. So, let's start with the warm tones, which you can see depicted here on the right. The warm tones start with your reds, your yellows and your oranges, and pretty much are the warmest, fieriest colors on the palette. They are the colors that are energetic, that call us to action, that are really the activity-based colors on the palette. When we look at colors like red, for instance, it has a myriad of meanings; everything from stop, which we see in a stop sign, but also to passion and sensuality. So, red is the fieriest of the warm tones and certainly is the one that we are most drawn to oftentimes, if we are on the warm spectrum of color. Orange plays very well with red and has similar characteristics, but orange oftentimes helps to produce conversation, etcetera, so you see it used a lot in situations where conversation is really key. Yellow is another one of the warm tones thats used a lot in various sunny and bright settings to bring about a joyful experience or to elevate one's mood. You see it used quite often in model homes where they are trying to get prospective buyers to buy. So, that's a little bit about the warmer end of the spectrum on the color wheel.

    Now let's move and shift to the cooler tones, which includes our greens, our blues, our violets or our indigos. On the cooler end of the spectrum you are looking at a totally different approach in terms of mood that we saw on the warmer end of the spectrum. On the cooler end of the spectrum it's more a focus of relaxation, meditation, calmness, because if you look at the colors here like with green, for instance, green is the color of grass, of trees, of growth and nurturing. Blues are the color of the ocean. You can imagine sitting by the ocean and listening to the waves roll in, that's totally different than the fieriness of the sun that's represented by the red.

    Then if you look at colors like indigo or purple, those are even more meditative and more related to spirituality, and bring about those kinds of moods. So, that helps to understand a little bit about where those colors in the cooler end of the spectrum fit in terms of mood and mood avocation.

    Now let's look at white. White is a color that is representative of purity, of peace, of calmness, it's also one of intellect. So, we typically use white in those kinds of settings where we want to evoke that type of emotion. Lastly, we will look at our blacks and our browns. It's really funny when you look at black and brown, because you see black and brown being used a lot obviously in fashion, and as a woman I typically have many, many black pants and black skirts that I mix with many different colors. We see the same kind of usage of black in the decorating world, where we typically add some black to every room to ground the space. Black and brown are the colors of melancholy and of death, but they are grounding colors and they help to balance the space, and so we typically use black, and now more so brown, with the revolution I should say or evolution of the earth tones coming about, now brown is becoming the new black. Similarly, that's occurring in the world of fashion as well. So, that gives you a little bit of a synopsis of what the color wheel looks like, how the colors break out in terms of moods and emotions. Now, what we are going to do is look at how to analyze the rooms that you are going to focus on in your home in terms of building your palette, which rooms dictate which functions, and therefore which colors are best selected for those particular spaces in your home.