Having studied color psychology, Marin, California-based interior designer Kelly Berg of Story & Space knows just how the hue of a room can affect the mood. Shades commonly found in nature—dusty aquas, sage greens, muted blues—bring serenity; warm hues like terra cotta and ivory create coziness; and bold tones such as deep plum and indigo can dial up the drama. Here, Berg shares paint color advice to help transform any space.
Are there certain hues that are easier to live with? Colors can be clear, or they can be muted. Most interior shades are muted or grayed down to some degree. We’re much more likely to enjoy a burnt orange or terra cotta as opposed to a super bright, undiluted orange. The former two are livable hues because they’re muddied up a bit and easier for our visual palates to digest.
What should people consider when choosing wall paint? Light reflectance value (LRV) is the amount of light that a color reflects into a space and is included on most paint chips. The higher the LRV, the more light is bounced around a room, and the more luminous a color appears and feels. Since light plays a big role in the mood of a space, selecting paint hues that have a high LRV will generally make the area seem more energetic and playful. A low LRV can aid in making a room feel moody and dramatic.
Any other tips? Proportion is key. A tiny bit of black can be grounding in a space, but four walls and a ceiling in the dark hue can have an entirely different effect.
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