Colour is personal. Whether we’re cognizant of it or not, it undoubtedly impacts our mood.
Noreen Chibuk, an interior design consultant and instructor in the Residential Interiors Program at the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta, has taught courses on residential interiors, and colour theory and applications, for over 10 years. While certain hues — like red — are associated with excitement and have been said to increase blood pressure and metabolism, she explains, other colours are said to bring us a sense of calm — like blue and green: “With red, the endocrine gland is stimulated, increasing the heart rate; blue can reduce blood pressure, thus calm- ing us down; when someone is experiencing stress, it’s considered a good thing to have the colour green in your environment, or to go out into nature to experience greenery.”
As people react to colour in different ways, Chibuk urges self-reflection to create spaces that contribute to our personal well-being. “Especially in our world right now, it is a good opportunity to explore,” she says. “It may be a good thing to pause occasionally and be mindful of what environments, both natural and built, provide the most comfort, joy, and relaxation, or — conversely — those that contribute to anxiety, agitation or ‘low’ feelings; by doing so, one can perhaps develop an awareness of what colours one is attracted to and why.”
We spoke to three homeowners who’ve done so, and encourage you to embrace a new shade in your home, too.
As a filmmaker and a plant stylist at Botaniful — a lush, bright, impeccably styled plant loft hidden atop a grocery store in north Edmonton — Kim Wynn understands how to set a mood. Case in point; her living room, where she’s covered the wall in a paint called “Manor Green” by Benjamin Moore. She describes the tone of the space as “Asian jungle vibes mixed with old Hollywood regency.” Behind a velvet, rust-coloured armchair she purchased during a close-out sale from The Bay in City Centre, styling the shelves against the moody backdrop was half the fun: “Of course, I started with greenery and the vessels they live in,” she reflects. “I’m typically attracted to terracotta as it balances out the cool tones of the leaves. From there, I added gold and brass accents for the metals, like the gold watering can which ties in the jungle theme. I added in some white ceramic pottery I nabbed at a second-hand store to give the eyes a break; used books to create different levels and fill blank spaces; and then topped it off with a few personal touches, like the vintage leopard statue… I feel calm, cozy and luxe when I look into my living space.”
Brianna Hughes is a photographer and the co-founder of Ministry of Interiors, a residential interior-design rm which — since the pandemic hit — has never been busier. When it comes to colour selection in the home, “it’s all about balance,” she says. At her home in Westmount, she opts for white walls with large, colourful art in the main living spaces. But, for the bedrooms, she has them fully “painted out,” along with painted baseboards, casing and doors to make it feel “womb-like.” With a matching bedspread, her own bedroom is painted in “Sulking Room Pink” by Farrow and Ball, which she describes as “intimate” and “a little bit playful.”
Whatever feeling you desire, Hughes is adamant your colour choices can achieve it: “The importance of colour in your home cannot be understated. It evokes emotion, ranging from feeling alert and energized to feeling relaxed and calm. […] If you’re nervous about colouring your walls, paint a few samples around the room and look at the space at different times of the day. With fabrics, order large samples and just live with them for a bit.”
Lorri Luchka and Stuart Crosley hired Serenity Contracting and Design and interior decor consultant Lisa Basaraba to bring colour into their new build, which they moved into last July. “I’m personally tired of white kitchens everywhere, so avoiding white in the kitchen was my design input,” says Luchka. While the cabinets of their kitchen are finished in a soft, natural-looking walnut, their bold departure from the all-white trend was a bright “Paradise Green” backsplash by Sherwin-Williams that mirrors the outdoor greenery seen through their French doors and kitchen windows. “We chose to match both the stucco of the house [which is colour blocked in green] and the colour in nature of newly sprouted leaves,” says Crosley of the statement-making selection.