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Psychology of color: It can affect mood, appetite, even raise your blood pressure

Psychology of color: It can affect mood, appetite, even raise your blood pressure
"In Mexico, everything is bright. I just like it. You do need some visual stimulation, especially in Montana during the winter," she said.

Reynolds, a registered nurse in Bozeman, painted her sons' room a bright lime green, and her living room is a golden yellow.

"I need color because our color season is so short," she said.

Research shows that Reynolds' reaction to color is right on. Color affects not only mood, but also appetite and energy level. The Paint Quality Institute explains that certain colors in the home bring out specific responses in people.

"Color is very powerful," said Shari Wonders, interior designer at Sherwin-Williams in Great Falls.

When helping people decide on paint for a specific room, Wonders has them bring in items from the room, such as pillows and pictures. Usually a person's love of a color goes beyond the walls.

"I have personally noticed that 80 percent of the time, when a woman walks in looking for a color, she's wearing it," Wonders said.

Karen Gronser also has people look at their clothing when deciding what color to choose for a room. Color is personal, so Gronser, a designer at The Finishing Touch in Great Falls, tries to get to know her clients when choosing colors for their home.

"I start asking a lot of questions just to get to know them, to get to know their personality," Gronser said.

She visits her clients and looks at other rooms in the house. She also asks questions about their hobbies. Do they like to go outdoors? Are they people who would rather stay indoors and snuggle up in front of the fire with a good book? Do they have a big family and enjoy gathering in the kitchen?

The mood that a person wants to create in a room should help determine the paint color. Gronser explained that blues, depending upon the shade, are more tranquil, while reds and yellows are uplifting. Browns and blacks are neutral because they change, depending on the colors that are added to them.

Color also is impacted by the amount of light in the room, so Gronser recommends paying attention to the kind of light the room receives throughout the day. Buying a foam core board and painting it the potential wall color can help the client see how the color looks in different lights and how it changes when set against the carpet and window treatments.

Color not only changes the mood of a room, it also can change the sense of space. Light hues can expand a room, while dark colors can make a large room feel more cozy. Vertical stripes create a feeling of height, and bright white helps make a low ceiling feel higher.

Some of the most popular interior colors lately are sage/yellowish greens, tans, browns, rusts, yellows and golds, Wonders said. But when it comes down to it, everyone has personal preferences for colors. Some people love red, some hate it. You can't change their minds.

Reflecting on the rainbow

According to the Paint Quality Institute, research shows that red, orange and yellow families are associated with heat, fire or sunshine.

Red increases blood pressure and heart rate, often producing feelings of intimacy, energy or passion. It also stimulates appetite.

Orange is less dramatic than red, yet warms a room. It's seen as more friendly than fiery. Orange is a good choice for living rooms, family rooms and children's bedrooms.

Yellow grabs attention and brightens poorly lit areas. In bedrooms, yellow has been shown to lift the mood.

Blues, greens and violets are reminders of calm landscapes and ocean views. These shades bring about feelings of peace and relaxation.

Blue is a soothing choice for bedrooms. It also suppresses the appetite, so keep it out of kitchens.

Green is the dominant color in nature, so we feel comfortable with green anywhere in the house. Try light greens in baths and living rooms, mid-range green accents in kitchens and dining rooms. The calming effect of green is used in hospitals, schools and workplaces.

Violet gets a favorable response from children, but many adults dislike purples. Rosier shades seem to be more likeable. Children's bedrooms are a good place to try out violets.

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