Whether as a design professional or a property owner, you may find yourself wondering how to add a measurable element of calm to a space. It is more challenging than we might initially realize, and all of the furniture rearranging, water elements, and soothing décor in the world cannot match the power of well-chosen colors.
Color is associated with many major belief systems that range from the Ayurvedic tradition of colors and "chakras" to the more well-known theories behind Feng Shui. Most people tend to have favorite colors or hues, but these are not always going to create a sense of calm in an interior space. It is a tremendous design challenge because people inhabit their spaces, and want them to reflect personal taste or style, but this may actually clash with their other wish, which is to make those spaces more soothing and calm.
While experts tell us that wall art and displays can help to create calm, and that keeping things less cluttered than might be our natural tendencies also open the space and create balance, color tends to be the straightest line to results. Let's consider five different ways to use color in order to create a sense of balance and calm, and some of them won't even require a can of paint!
1. The Ratio
Throughout our lives, we run into a bevy of ratios or suggested percentages that help us to achieve better results. For example, when making sweet and sour foods, the rule is actually not 50/50 but more of an 80/20 or 60/40 with the sour dominating the sweet to create harmony and balance.
In a living space, the typical color ratios are recommended at 60/30/10. The dominant color should appear at a 60% weight in the overall scheme. Secondary hues should then be seen at a 30% for the major complementary hue and only ten percent for an accent or "pop" of color. The same ratios apply to fashion, with the pants and jacket or topper in one color, shirt or blouse another, and accent piece (such as a scarf, bag or tie) at around ten percent. Use this same approach with your palette, and you prevent clashes and disrupted balance. Walls in the dominant hue, upholstery at the 30% weight, and the little accents at ten percent…it is a recipe for calm.
2. The Scheme
Of course, that tip assumes you've chosen a color scheme. That should be one of the first steps taken when considering your calmer colors. The scheme is what steers you towards everything else in the room or space. Before you leap towards the cool blues and pale hues, however, keep in mind other essential rules for using color to create calm.
3. You Can Go Dark
Many designers find themselves trying to convince a client that a dark hue, or one that is not pastel, can actually create calm. For instance, a deep and earthy Etruscan red can easily create an immediate sense of quiet and calm - even in a room flooded with natural light.
4. You Can Also Go Warm
It is not just the soothing blue hues of evening or dawn that create a sense of relaxation, there are many palettes based on warmer hues. For example, you can opt for paler blossom-pinks or even a creamier yellow if you are looking to create a hopeful and yet relaxed space. These hues will need a pastel base, but can work wonders.
5. Natural Works Well
Nature hues are also great for creating a workable palette. Deep beige palettes that emulate stone, dark brown clay and earth tones, and rich greens and sage colors can all take a room towards a more peaceful atmosphere.
Color can be the foundation for a calm and peaceful decorating scheme, but don't assume you are locked strictly into stony blues and paler neutrals. You can inject any sort of scheme, as long as you balance it and maintain the ratios that help the dominant color do its magic.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com and www.dreamstime.com