A Color Scientist Explains How Paint Impacts the Mood in Your Home

Kendall Jenner's pink wall definitely doesn't do what she thinks it does...

Scroll through to see how color scientist Gillian C. Rose takes into account all aspects of an individual and home in her work.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
It's important to balance cool and warm tones.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
Smaller rooms are places for pops of color.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
Careful where you put that pink wall...
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
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Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert is of higher importance than you may realize.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
A lilac wall.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
An apartment gallery.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
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A master bedroom Rose designed.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
Perhaps a blue kitchen is best.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
For a client who wanted a very big response upon entering the home.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
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This is one of the more aggressive aesthetics Rose went for.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose
A soothing bedroom.
Courtesy Gillian C. Rose

As anyone who has faced the task of selecting a home paint color knows, it’s a daunting job. With a seemingly endless choice pool, there’s always the distinct possibility that you’ll somehow choose the wrong shade; one that ruins the entire atmosphere of the house.

Everyone wants to create the perfect, relaxing home environment, and if you’ve ever felt like the color of a room is somehow inexplicably setting the wrong mood, you’re not wrong. It’s actually a science.

According to interior designer and accredited color scientist Gillian C. Rose, our reactions to paint color are “informed by our hypothalamus,” which in turn is in a part of our brain that triggers our psychological and emotional, as well as physical, responses to color. So, you’re not crazy if you think a certain loud color is changing the whole vibe of a room.

Gillian C. Rose. Courtesy Gillian C. Rose

Rose founded her eponymous interior design firm, Gillian C. Rose Design, in 1997, followed by her color consultancy The Science of Color in 2006. She told us how color can affect the mood and atmosphere of your home environment, and gave us some tips on what shades to go for and what to avoid.

Below, Rose told the Observer a few key things to remember when choosing the color scheme for a home—one of the most important things to note is that everyone reacts differently to color.

Oh, and remember that pink wall that Kendall Jenner said would suppress your appetite? Well, you might want to rethink that Pepto Bismol shade…

Introverts versus extroverts:

“We have come to understand that our responses to color are as individual as we are,” Rose explained. “The greatest differential is whether we are introverts or extroverts.  In the color sciences, we are referring to the amount of stimulation necessary to pass through ones cerebral cortex. Extroverts rely significantly more on their external world for their stimulation, thus requiring more color [and] contrast to pass through their cerebral cortex, in order to function at their best.”

“As in all aspects of life, once we have entered balanced environments, wellness ensues and the need for deviation recedes,” according to Rose, so combining warm and cool colors is “essential to creating peaceful [and] tranquil sanctuaries.”

“Coolness looks cool by it’s very description, but often when we lean solely towards aesthetics, our own emotional needs may be left out,” per Rose. “We all require some amount of stimulation in order to simply remain calm. Our psyches are so sensitive, that sometimes merely a tint of a color within a white base can evoke the feelings we desire.”

Red Zone:

“There are vast and broad generalizations, like red stimulates our behavioral senses. Even within this, it does not mean that we are all responding to red in the same manner…[s]ome of us will experience anger upon seeing red, while some will become aroused,” Rose explained. “Yes, we will all certainly respond to red faster than any other single color, but to what purpose and to what reactions? Red merely rips open the door,” she said.

Sienna Miller in ‘Alfie.’ Pinterest

In the boudoir:

“If you’re like most of us, [you’re] looking to your bedroom to rejuvenate you while you sleep and create a little night music as it strikes you,” Rose suggested. “In both instances, I would veer away from dark green and grays.”

For introverts, consider an accent walls in any shade of “lilac, butter, cantaloupe or honeydew, in combination with the perfect shade of white.” Yes, the shade of white does, indeed, matter. “A while that will include the undertone of your accent color or its compliment,” she explained, “leaving the reflection to gently bask over the entire room.”

For extroverts, “imagine your headboard wall in a deep, inky blue, with perhaps shades of straw as the adjacent walls, and then a soupçon of blood orange somewhere, perhaps your sheets or even your lighting.”

Remember that red wall Mr. Big paints in his bedroom in Sex and the City? Probably not the best idea…

Ah, Mr. Big’s red wall. Pinterest

Sleeping Beauty:

According to Rose, “we cannot sleep or be effective when surrounded by colors that don’t reflect our personality.”

“For the introverts among us, soothing colors often come in the form of analogous colors…muted shades that offer little contrast. For the extroverts, it’s a wise choice to create a palette that includes some complementary colors or higher contrasts.”

Away from gray:

While gray might seem like a super chic, neutral shade right now, you’d be wise to steer away from the steely tone when it comes to paint.

“Gray can sap our energy,” Rose said. “I am referring to grays that [are] comprised purely of black and white. More complex grays that include a multitude of colors offer more stimulation.”

Optimal eating:

Last year, Kendall Jenner posted a photo of a pink wall in her home. After the model and reality star apparently received many an inquiry into her reasoning behind selecting the shade, she wrote on her website that she chose the color, Baker-Miller Pink, because it’s the only one scientifically proven both to calm you and suppress your appetite.

Pink overload. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Sadly for anyone who ran out for a giant bucket of the rosy paint, Jenner was misinformed. “Given todays understanding, it seems highly unlikely that any shade that includes red would do anything other than stimulate our senses,” Rose informed us, “and in some cases, to the point of arousal. There is no data to substantiate that any shade of red would suppress any type of response,” because red stimulates psychological and emotion al, as well as physical responses, from the “moment of impact.”

Instead of red, “sometimes something as simple as entering a blue kitchen can (no promises), suppress our appetite for a time,” per Rose. Well, that’s music to our ears, because we’re way more into the idea of a blue wall than a pink one, anyway.

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