Volumes of research have been conducted on the practical and aesthetic applications of color. For better or worse, color—in private and public spaces—affects human behavior; it can manipulate mood and perception. A board planning to redecorate or refurbish common spaces must carefully ponder color options. What looks best? What do color choices say about the building and its residents? What impact does color have on the value (both actual and perceived) of the building?
There is a reason so many nations, sports teams, and corporations favor red, white and blue—and why those same nations, sports teams, and corporations tend to steer away from lavender, burnt sienna, and mint green. Casinos are big proponents of the use of color to enhance mood—they want you to be comfortable, but to lose track of time, too. The unusual color combinations of casino carpets, believe it or not, enhance all of that.
“The idea that color can affect moods is actually completely based in science,” says New York City-based Kim Depole, owner of Kim Depole Designs, Inc. who works extensively throughout New Jersey. Studies validate anecdotal research. “For example, if you are in a red room, it will raise your blood pressure. If you’re in a yellow room, you’ll get a headache after a sustained amount of time. A blue room will provide a sense of calm, and a green room will—believe it or not—help you be more articulate.”
This means that it is possible to work backwards—to choose a color based on the corresponding mood. “There’s color symbolism and color psychology. For instance, McDonald’s uses yellow because yellow makes you hungry. So color definitely has an impact,” says Jonathan Baron, ASID, president of Baron Designs, and a New York State certified and licensed interior designer. “I may choose a deep rich purple for a building’s logo, or the sign out front, because purple is a color that’s symbolically related to royalty. Now, I wouldn’t do a whole lobby in purple, but the logo as an accent color could be the purple, and the rest of the building could be in beiges and browns.”
How does this apply to a residential building? “The color scheme also needs to make people comfortable,” Baron explains. “So even if there’s a red brick wall, it doesn’t mean I’m going to do the other wall in cherry red. I’m creating color schemes that are gentle, complimentary, and comforting. I can’t go into a lobby and use dark, dark gray just because I like that color. The people in that building are not going to be comfortable with that.”