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Decorating School Crash Course - Part 2

Furniture World Magazine


Lesson #2: A detailed script for putting on your first customer color seminar.

Editor’s note: This is the second article in our Decorating Crash Course series. The text is written so that you can easily use it to put on a customer color seminar. It can be presented “as is” but you should add additional elements to give your seminars a personal touch as outlined in the December/January 2007 issue of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine, “Simple but Sensational Seminars: Keys to a Memorable Presentation,” posted to the article archives on www.furninfo.com. Decorating seminars are a fantastic way to get quality leads and referrals. They help customers to solve decorating problems, and they position you as a home furnishings expert.

“The only color I don't have is navy brown.” -Yogi Berra-


Color is all around us, and it affects everyone. No one is exempt. You are rarely aware of the fact that you make decisions based on color everyday. Color’s effect on people has been studied by psychologists for years. The research supports the notion that people share many common responses to color.
The impact of colors in an interior space can be subtle or obvious. They influence and even persuade customers consciously as well as unconsciously on four important levels: Emotional, Psychological, Physiological, Relational.

Most of you attending our seminar today have a lot of questions about choosing colors for walls, furniture, window treatments, or home accessories. Color use in interior decorating does not have to be haphazard. Although colors can, and often are, chosen on the basis of a vague feeling or general preference, more deliberate choices can serve to improve the quality of life for every member of your family.


If you use color with a specific intent or purpose in mind, it will reinforce the idea that color can truly serve us. There are definite benefits to using the right colors to accent and highlight the features of interior spaces and furnishings.

Specific color choices can be used as design tools to:

• Help create and elicit certain moods within the home.
• Calm people down for relaxation.
• Liven up a room for entertaining.
• Help concentration.
• Increase appetite.
• Make us feel good.
• Lessen the tendency for arguments in the home.
• Accentuate art and strengthen other colors.
• Make various complexions and skin tones look their best.
• Receive lighting well.
• Promote physical healing.
• Make homes look beautiful.

Color Serves a Purpose in the Home

You can use color to elicit responses in others that support a desired mood or atmosphere. For example, the color red increases hunger. This information may be helpful when selecting paint for a breakfast nook, or when setting a glamorous table for a special dinner party.

You can use color to serve a specific purpose; to bring out the best in yourselves, to spark creativity, to calm yourselves down, or to invite others to sit beside you and converse.

You may be limited in your use of color in some environments such as at work, but your home is the one environment where you have a lot of control. It is the place where you can use color to your advantage, greatly improving the quality of your lives.

Did you know that using a pale, soft green in the bedroom of someone who is ill can actually speed their recovery? And did you realize that the color apricot— and many variations of it— makes a splendid backdrop for any color complexion? In other words, if you paint a party room a pretty apricot, everyone will look great in the room and your guests may actually stay a while and visit with one another more meaningfully.

Here’s another example. Being exposed to bright yellow for prolonged periods of time can irritate people and make them feel easily provoked. Obviously then, bright yellow may not be the best choice for a baby’s room or for a room that two children share.

All of these examples describe ways that color can serve you. There are hundreds more. To allow color to serve you in your home, first consider the space you want to decorate, and then choose colors to support the purpose and function of the room.

Choosing Colors for Specific Rooms

It is best to focus on one room at a time so you can complete the project without feeling overwhelmed. Before you start your decorating project, try to determine the general mood or feeling you want to evoke in the room. For example, do you want to design a quiet retreat, or a space that will help people to converse with one another? Do you want the room to be expansive, cozy, calm, or exciting? Once you have established a clear purpose for the room, you can easily choose colors that will help you accomplish your decorating goals.

There are certain common stereotypes and associations historically attached to specific colors in Western society; some come from our own personal experiences, and others are conditioned through our cultures. Some are common among all classes of people, while others are individual and specific.

There are also unconscious physiological (body) responses to specific colors that are not learned, and that cross cultural and societal lines.

Listed below are some of the general social associations tied to common colors as well as some of the physiological responses the body has to them based on scientific research.

Understanding this can help you to decorate your homes and choose colors based on more than simply aesthetics. In the end, you may choose to decorate with the colors you love, but it is always a good idea to have some basic knowledge of the connections people have to colors before you begin decorating and furniture shopping. This will help ensure your design projects are driven by a clear purpose and intent.

Blue: Blue is associated with peace, safety, tranquility, and calm. It symbolizes loyalty, productivity, justice, strength, perseverance and service. Pale blue suggests insecurity and introspection, as well as imagination.

Blue causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming. It can increase productivity and strength. Blue is the color most likely to produce the lowest pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and eye blink frequency. If overused, this color can be depressing and a bit cold. It is the least appetizing (who wants blue food?). 
Good rooms for decor in blue are the master bedroom, childrens’ rooms, guest rooms, the bathroom, library, study, the spa, and family room.

Purple: Associated with royalty and wealth, purple is theatrical, magical, sophisticated, intellectual, romantic, and spiritual. It can also be considered artificial and decadent. Lighter shades reflect innocence, imagination, femininity, and a love for the aesthetic.
It reduces hunger and stimulates the upper brain. It depresses heart muscles and motor nerves. It helps to maintain ionic balance and increases the power of meditation.
Good rooms for decor in purple are the bedroom, living room, and bathroom.

Green: Associated with being calm, safe, and relaxed, as well as friendly and comfortable. It is used in hospitals to relax patients. It represents order, frankness, honesty, and practicality. Dark green is conservative and solid. It is associated with wealth, security, success, tenacity, and good judgment. Lighter greens represent new growth and inexperience. Green is associated with money. Physically easy on the eye compared to all other colors, green can actually improve vision. It is calming and refreshing to the mind, and helps build tissue cells like muscle and bone. It relieves tension, lowers the blood pressure, dilates the capillaries, produces a feeling of warmth, stimulates the pituitary, and helps even out the emotions. Green acts as a hypnotic upon the sympathetic nervous system. Good rooms for decor in green are the guest room, bedrooms, bathrooms, living and family rooms, the media room, the garden room, and the library.

Black: Associated with power and authority, as well as violence. Black is sleek and sophisticated, and the color of drama. It enlivens other colors. It is also the color of submission and mourning (in Western Cultures). In small quantities it stimulates. In large quantities it is oppressive. It can quickly bring on a feeling of depression. Good décor uses for black are to accent other colors such as in frames for art or pictures, on lamp bases, and in accessory pieces. For best results use black in moderation.

White: White symbolizes purity, innocence, light, crispness, and coolness. It represents sterility, cleanliness, sharpness, and openness. White represents mourning in some Asian cultures. It causes a lower pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and eye blink frequency than almost all colors except blue. Good rooms for decor in white are guest rooms, entryways, the master bedroom, bathrooms, the music room, the spa.

Red: Red is associated with arousal, anger, aggression, passion, love, mental energy, control, excitability, as well as danger. It represents valor and courage. Rich red is sophisticated, and also denotes compassion. Adrenaline is released in the presence of red. It stimulates appetite, heightens the sense of smell, raises the pulse, and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. It is highly visible and causes an increase in eye blink frequency. Good rooms for decor in red are the kitchen, dining room, party room, game room, and some small spaces.

Pink: Associated with fun, music, celebration, and excitement. Lighter shades are associated with sweetness and can be calming. Very pale pink is sometimes associated with lethargy—mental and sometimes physical loss of energy. Good rooms for decor in pink are a playroom (in bright pink), a guest room or bedroom (in lighter shades).

Orange: Orange is associated with excitement, affection, radiance, and heat. It is warm, friendly, inviting and denotes commonality, and a sense of home. Deep oranges are associated with dependability, strength, rich beauty, wealth and fame, and lighter hues represent comfort and the relieving of stress. Orange increases appetite, induces relaxation, slows down the rates of blood flow, increases the potential for sleep, increases the pulse rate, but does not effect the blood pressure. It promotes assimilation and circulation and helps relieve muscle cramps. Good rooms for decor in orange are the dining room, the family room, the formal living room, the guest bedroom, the guest bathroom, and the entryway. 

Yellow: In its true form, yellow denotes happiness, warmth, cheerfulness, optimism, energy, and life. It represents renewal, intensity, talkativeness, prestige, love, and intellectual stimulation. Paler shades denote wisdom, intelligence, enlightenment, goodness, and clarity. Light shades also represent freshness, inexperience, youth, and cleanliness. Yellow causes vision to take place relatively quickly compared to other colors. It is hard on the eyes (use in moderation), speeds metabolism, and can make us emotionally uneasy and argumentative. Paler shades enhance concentration and clear thinking (yellow note pads). Yellow rooms cause babies to cry more often, and cause allergies to flare up more frequently in people of all ages. Good rooms for decor in yellow are the kitchen, dining room, study, playroom, childrens’ rooms, and the sewing room. Use appropriate shades and in moderation.

Brown: Associated with the earth, brown implies sincerity, genuineness, and being solid and reliable. It reduces irritability and mental tension, promotes the synthesis of serotonin, eliminates chronic fatigue, and stimulates the formation of prostaglandin E1 (which has many functions in the actions for the womb, brain, lungs, and kidneys). It increases tryptophan amino acid levels that influence sleep, migraine, immunity and moods. Good rooms for decor in yellow brown are the study, the library, the media room, the sewing room, a baby’s room (mixed with other colors for fun and stimulation), and a guest bedroom.

Good Color Choices For Every Room In the House

For the Bedroom: Calming and peaceful colors such as blues and greens, and spiritual and romantic colors such as purple work well in the bedroom retreat. Neutrals also work well in the bedroom.

For the Living Room: Neutral colors such as beige and browns for walls, sofas, and chairs, accented with either warm or cool colors serve well in living areas. Cooler colors work well for living and family rooms that will be used for downtime and reading. Use warmer colors for living and family rooms to promote cozying up and conversation.

For the Dining Room or Eating Area: Warmer colors that stimulate the appetite and conversation are great for dining areas. Shades of apricot and orange evoke enthusiasm and excitement without being overpowering.

For Hallways and Entry Ways: Neutral colors work to transition the space as it leads to other areas of the home.

For the Bathroom or Spa: A cool, tranquil, healing color such as green is perfect for a spa retreat. White is often used in bathroom areas because it makes small spaces seem larger and symbolizes cleanliness.

For a child’s room: Cool colors (blues, greens) soothe and relax. Warm colors (reds, oranges)are great for playtime. Avoid bright yellow in large quantities as it can cause siblings to fight more easily and babies to cry more frequently. Bright pinks are wonderful to stimulate the imagination, but very light shades can cause sleepiness or even laziness (not conducive to “cleaning your room”).

Call to Action
Now you are equipped with practical knowledge you can use in the design of your home. Your assignment is to choose a color scheme for one room in your home. Over the next three weeks, decide on the room’s function and purpose, and select a “mood” you would like for that space. The mood can be calm and peaceful, or exciting and lively, or something in between. Next, choose a wall color as well as a few colors you would like to see on your furniture and accessories. If you need help with the final step of actually selecting the specific colors, visit us at “XYZ Home Furnishings,” and bring along your notes on the room you are decorating, it’s function, purpose, and the “mood” you want to achieve. This will allow us, as decorating consultants to help you narrow in on the very best choices in color, furnishings, and decorative accessories for your project.

I hope you have enjoyed your Decorating School Crash Course lesson #2 on color, and that you find it useful for your decorating projects. As you design and decorate, remember that the use of color in an interior space is something to embrace. Color affects everyone (even people like Yogi Berra). Color can be used specifically and deliberately to serve us and enhance the home environment. Keep in mind that when you consider the purpose and function of any space, you can more easily decorate in a meaningful way, one which supports your lifestyle and serves to improve your quality of life.

Next issue
Lesson #3 - Style Savvy: Identifying the 4 Main Decorating Styles—Choose The One You Love.

Margarett DeGange, M.Ed. is a Home Fashions Designer, Writer, and Professional Speaker. She is the creator of Communicate 2 Connect Seminars for business and personal development, and she is the Founder and Director of The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration, with both on sight and on-line courses in Interior Decorating and Redesign. For the past 20 years she has helped business owners in the interior fashions and decorating industries to communicate better with customers, run their businesses more effectively, and increase sales and profits. Questions can be sent to Margarett at Margarett@furninfo.com.
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