Discovering How Color and Pattern Can Affect Mood

Published: June 20, 2023

As a designer for 25 years, I’m passionate about understanding how color and pattern can affect mood in our kitchen and bath projects. I often balance intuition and the heart with the science behind it. Many designers strive to improve their clients’ quality of life, so it’s essential to understand the language, how and why behind our innate knowing.

Above photo: This contemporary primary suite designed by Paula Kennedy of Timeless Kitchen Design includes natural features for a getaway retreat vibe. Photo: Roger Turk Northlight Photography

Elements & Principles of Design

If you remember your basics from design textbooks, “Principles of Design” help us understand how to use the tools to make art. These tools are essential in creating a space that looks good and functions well and include pattern, contrast, emphasis, balance, proportion, harmony, and rhythm.

The “Elements of Design” are the tools to make art, and those include:

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  1. Lines. Whether they’re horizontal, diagonal or vertical, lines can help direct the eye toward a certain point in your composition. Horizontal lines evoke a sense of calm, and vertical lines demand an energy of power and confidence.
  2. Value. In design, value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. We create contrast and interest in a space with the value colors. We can manipulate the illusion and perception of a size, width, depth or height of a space just with how we use color.
  3. Space. The area around, within or between images or objects and includes positive and negative space.
  4. Shape. Organic shapes occur naturally in the world. Geometric shapes are angular and mathematically consistent. Abstract shapes represent things in nature but aren’t perfectly representative.
  5. Form. Form pertains to the way a physical configuration occupies space in a 3D sense. Playing with the size or volume can support different design themes like minimalism, which is how we want to feel in that space.
  6. Texture. Tactile texture is a physical sense of touch, whether it’s rough, smooth or ribbed. Visual texture, on the other hand, refers to the imagined feel of the illustrated texture, which can create more visual interest and a heightened sensory experience.
  7. Color. Color is used by designers to portray mood, light, depth and point of view.

A Closer Look at Color

Now that we know that color is another design element in your toolbox, let’s look at the psychology of color. Have you heard of the hue-heat hypothesis? This suggests that light and colors can affect our perceived physical temperature. Warm colors can stimulate and invigorate, while cool colors can calm and relax.

moods for various colors

Primary Suite Shades

Blue, blue-green, lavender and eggplant are excellent calming colors that may increase rest and relaxation in the bedroom. And now that we’re all dreaming of a place to retreat, we can create a sense of a spa in the bathroom with a monochromatic color palette. Play with varying shades of the same neutral that will create a calm, relaxing, supportive space.

Color in the Kitchen

Depending on what shade of green you choose, it can reflect your desire to bring the outdoors in. Increase the energy of green by adding a yellow undertone, or bring in a sense of calm with a blue undertone of a mint or spruce green.

If you and your family are trying to eat healthier, you might choose to utilize blue shades. The results of a study showed that 33% less food was eaten in a blue room. On the other hand, if you’d like to choose colors that induce appetite, use warm hues like red or terra cotta.

Excitement in Exercise Spaces

Orange is my favorite color for my exercise room or even what I wear to workout. Nothing energizes me more than my bright orange Nikes or sweatshirt. If your client has a dedicated room or space, paint the walls orange or fill the room with orange items. It’ll help with focus and added motivation.

Hues in the Home Office

A shade of turquoise is my favorite color for my office, Sherwin-Williams Belize to be specific or “Tiffany” blue if you please – I even had a car this color. It’s the perfect balance between the energies of each color in this blended beauty. Blue shades can reduce anxiety, and enough yellow undertones can energize, enabling focus and clarity.

 As we are all learning more about wellness design, these design tools are your secret sauce to help your clients feel how they want in their homes.

By Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, CLIPP, Timeless Kitchen Design

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