The colors with which we surround ourselves

by Patricia M. Cove
Posted 9/24/21

Remember the fad of about 20 years ago, called “Color Me Beautiful”? 

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The colors with which we surround ourselves


Remember the fad of about 20 years ago, called “Color Me Beautiful”?  Color consultants would hold “parties” in your home, and using various color swatches would determine what shades best suited your complexion, your eyes, even your hair.  Your color palette would align with a season.  If you were a “Spring”, your colors would be pinks and yellows and aquas; A “Summer” would have bright blues and shamrock greens; “Winters” would sport greys and whites, and “Autumns” would, of course, be beiges, rusts and browns.  Books were written about the concept, and women would head to the department store, swatches in hand, to search for that perfect piece of clothing.  Like many fads, “Color Me Beautiful” parties soon disappeared, and even though I remember being a bit skeptical of the entire idea, it was interesting to note that often the wardrobe colors that looked best were the same colors that could be found on the walls, the upholstery and the carpets of the participant’s homes.

“Color Me Beautiful” aside, so many of us have very strong reactions to color, and some of us are not affected at all.  But for those of us who are, no matter the “season”, the colors with which we surround ourselves play an important role in our lives every day.  Although the study of the psychology of color is still in its early stages, it has been learned that various colors can be used in interiors to evoke certain moods or reactions.  Red, considered in the warm spectrum, can create feelings of comfort, but also anger and hostility.  It is often used in dining rooms as it is shown to increase appetite.  Blues, purples and greens are often described as calming, but can also bring to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

If your favorite sports team wears black uniforms, they are more likely to receive penalties.  But black is also considered to be the most “powerful” color, which is why black is the most popular color for luxury vehicles.  Driving a yellow car might mean that you are a happy person in general, and that you are more willing than the average person to take risks.  People often choose yellow for bedroom or living room walls, creating a sun filled room on even the gloomiest of days.

A person might prefer brighter colors when they are young, but find themselves drawn to more traditional colors as they get older, but it is more common that colors are chosen to create certain moods or feelings.  Lighter shades of green, for example, are used to create a peaceful mood, and are often used within hospitals to evoke a sense of calm.   Although experts have found that while color influences how we feel and act, the effects are still subject to personal, cultural, and situational factors.

On so many occasions, color becomes an extremely important feature in planning a new design project.

When presenting color schemes to clients, I may hear comments ranging from, “ We can’t use that color, it reminds me of my grandmother’s house.” to  “ Let’s use the celadon shade, as it was the shade of my father’s office.”  On the other hand, we may not even be aware of why a color affects us in a certain way, we just have to be attuned to it, and adjust our surroundings using those cues.

As for me, my bedroom as a girl was pink and green.  My mother had bought yards and yards of a pink and green floral taffeta fabric, and sewed billowy curtains and a bedspread with matching pillows.  I selected a pale green wallpaper with a small diamond pattern .  Our family room was a rustic knotty pine with a huge stone fireplace and oak stained cabinetry. Today?   My bedroom is done in shades of burgundy and loden green with a celadon stripe wallpaper, and cream trim. The same color scheme as my childhood room, but darker.  My living room is pale green and cream with touches of dark pink, and my kitchen is cherry with rough- hewn beams and walk in fireplace.

  And my wardrobe?  I am an “Autumn”!

Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached through her web site,


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