Creating a Happy House with Light and Color

June 21, 2007 § 4 Comments

Unless you’re holed up in a dark room to write a novel, most people like light and airy spaces. They like the feeling of open windows, tall ceilings, and good energy flow. Even if you don’t have a large space, you can achieve that good feeling with a few tricks.

1.  Let the sun in. Open the curtains and raise the shades all the way.  Push the curtains all the way back so they don’t cover the windows. You’ll feel better instantly. There’s nothing more depressing than a room without adequate light (dark-colored rooms with light are a different story).

2. Call the electrician. Look around the room for your artificial light sources. Do you have one bulb in the ceiling and a couple of lamps? It’s time to invest in additional lighting:  recessed cans, track lighting, halogen spots, wall sconces, pendant lights, a chandelier, or whatever you need. It’s one of the best ways to update your house and make you happy at the same time.

 3. Paint your ceiling. Is it a drab gray? Then it’s not reflecting enough light. The best solution is to paint it bright white. (There are exceptions, of course. See the blog about what color to paint your ceiling.) Bright white looks fresh and clean and enhances the wall color.

4. Paint your walls. Are they supposed to be white? Look again. Do they appear gray instead? White walls reflect the colors in the room and consequently can look anything from gray to green to pink. If that look is draining your energy, it’s time for color.

  • For a light and airy feel, choose a palette of three or four hues (colors) and select a hue value on the light end of the paint chip. You can now paint those colors anywhere in your house and they will blend together creating an open feel.
  • For a happy yet dramatic look, try painting the rooms all the same hue, perhaps a soft warm gray, and then add explosions of happy color throughout. A big modern art piece on the living room wall, bright pillows on the sofa, a big multi-colored shag rug on the floor. Nothing screams happiness like color!
  • If you have architecture to highlight, paint color in selected areas: the side of the staircase, the risers on the stairs, a focal point wall. Your eye goes to color so pick areas that you want people to notice.
  • As long as you have enough light in the house, both natural and artificial, you can have cappucino walls in the living room, a navy blue kitchen, or a moroccan red dining room and still create a warm comfortable feeling. If you have very limited natural light, try a light creamy yellow on your walls to add a little sunshine.

I had a client once whose one request was to create for her a “happy house.” The remedy? Light and color.

§ 4 Responses to Creating a Happy House with Light and Color

  • Karen Pyle says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I hope you can help me pick exterior colors for our 98 year old bungalow in Portland, OR. We have a red roof and have always had the upper shingles painted a medium brown with cream trim and the lower lap siding in a light baige. My next door neighbor just painted his house a dark brown from head to toe. & even colored the new driveway a brown. It’s suddenly a lot of brown around here! I was wondering about going to tones of muted green to replace the baige & brown. But I’m afraid of my house turning into Christmas. & even after 30 years, we still love the simple tones of brown with the roof. Also, we tend to like having the old gray foundation & porch. We have a beautiful Arts & Crafts oak door with an oil finish. Any ideas would be appreciated. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your advice.

    Thank you! Karen

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Karen,

    Gee, your house sounds really nice the way it is. I love the oak door with all the different browns. And with a red roof you are limited somewhat.

    It does sound like your house is a bit more tastefully done than your neighbor’s although I haven’t seen either one. I wouldn’t worry about keeping it the same.

    But if you really want to get out of the browns, I might try a neutral green that borders on beige. Like Ben Moore’s wheeling neutral HC-92, carrington beige HC-93, and danville tan HC-91 (slightly richer green). Those colors together would be beautiful and would not smack of Christmas at all — even with a red roof.

    Good luck.
    Your Home & Color Coach

  • Shari Kretzschmer says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I hope you can help me with a color selection for my family room. Our house was built in the 1970’s and is an all brick ranch. The family room is part of the orginal structure with a floor to ceiling brick fire place at one end of the room. The bricks are tanish color with dark brown random bricks. The room is paneled with a dark brown paneling from floor to ceiling. Floor is a meduim brown hardwood along with the trim and the ceiling beams being meduim brown. Too much darkness and similar colors in the room. I was thinking about painting over the paneling, but am struggling with a color combination to lighten the room up, but not contrast with the fireplace. Or I could paint the bricks of the fireplace? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for your help,

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Shari,

    You can paint over the paneling — make sure you use a good primer. I would lighten up the room with a tan that goes with your bricks. That way the fireplace will blend nicely with the walls and the room will be so much lighter. You’ll love it!!

    Then add some color with either bright blue or rusty red accessories — pillows on the sofa, a throw, etc.

    And enjoy your new room

    Your Home & Color Coach

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