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Go With Green

The colors you use in your home affect the life you live there.

It’s the time of year when those of us living in North America find ourselves spending relatively more time inside our homes than outside them, again. There are fewer daylit hours and it’s cooling down outside, so dinner parties inside are starting to sound like a better way to enjoy time with others than barbeques on the deck, for example.

With more time indoors comes more attention to the inside of our homes. That attention often leads to efforts to get our homes into tip-top shape design-wise before the end-of-year entertaining season begins.

The first question that lots of people ask once the sprucing-up finally begins is what colors should be used for walls, upholstery, curtains, etc. Sometimes the answer to this question is straightforward—in a space with a clear-cut color scheme coordination with the existing shades is a good idea. But often the color palette in use in a space is relatively haphazard and an overhaul and organization seems in order. In those circumstances . . .

Go with green.

Greens have a bad reputation with some because some pretty hideous shades were used in institutional settings for a number of years. Also, a yellowy, yellow-green color is the least popular color around. Choose a green for your home that doesn’t seem almost yellow or remind you of the basement of your elementary school.

Cognitive science research makes it clear that there are some real benefits to using greens in your home. Seeing greens, generally, has been linked to more creative thinking. That’s something that most of us could use in our lives—whether we’re writing a novel, or trying to select holiday gifts, or trying to determine how we can possibly get along with our in-laws, or up to something else.

Greens that aren’t very saturated but are relatively bright—an example: a sage green with lots of white mixed into it—are relaxing to look at. One of the things that lots of us want to do in our homes is relax, and not very saturated but bright greens can help us do just that. Colors that are saturated but not too bright, such as Kelly greens, are invigorating to view.

An overall color scheme that integrates various shades of relaxing greens is an even better tension-buster than a single green wall or sofa in a calming hue. All of the various sensory experiences we have in a space combine in our brains to produce an overall emotional experience, so one relaxing green wall alone can’t make a space a good place to decompress if the other colors present are energizing.

Cultures develop associations to hues and for the most part, the associations we have as a society to greens are positive. We link them to spring and nature and renewal and acting in an environmentally responsible way, for example.

As individuals, we also form associations to particular colors. Don’t choose a green for your home that’s the same color as a nasty tasting medicine you needed to take as a child or the itchy sofa in your grandmother’s living room.

Greens are good. Make sure you have just as good a dose of them in your home décor as you do in your diet.

More from Sally Augustin Ph.D.
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