Interior Design for Living: Colors should reflect use, mood, and personality

By SUSAN GILL SPELLMEYER

Q: How does one de­cide what colors to select for deco­rating a room? This may sound ridiculous, but I like so many dif­ferent colors that I don't know how to select a color scheme. I'm starting from scratch so I can choose anything. I think it would be a lot easier if I owned a sofa or some other piece of furniture I liked and had to work with it. Then I would have a starting point and not find it confusing.

A: Your job of selecting a color scheme for any room is obvi­ously a lot easier if you already own a piece of furniture you either like or feel compelled to use. This is especially true if it is patterned. However, your options would be a lot more limited than yours are now, starting from scratch. Grant­ed, it may be more difficult to know where to begin, but in the end you may end up with a room that is more appropriate for you.

You say that you like a lot of colors. This is true for a lot of people. Keep in mind, though, that the use of color creates a feeling, and certain colors are appropriate in certain instances and not in others.

If the room you are planning to decorate is a library/study, you would want the colors to be sub­dued and restful — conducive to reading and studying. On the op­posite end of the pole, if you are furnishing a play/game room, the colors should be brighter and more intense to reflect the activi­ty taking place.

Bright primary colors, such as intense reds, yellows or blues, would not be appropriate in a li­brary, nor would soft muted pastel shades be appropriate in an active play room.

Color does affect your mood and should be considered seriously. Some questions you should ask yourself are: How will I use the room? How do I want to feel when I am in the room? Do I want it to relax or excite me? Do I want the room as a setting for reading and listening to music or do I want to utilize the room for playing games and exercising?

Rooms, even if meant for the same basic purpose, can vary. Bedrooms are a prime example. All are meant for sleeping, but a small child's room is often deco­rated in primary colors because he or she relates positively to them at an early age.

The colors selected for master bedrooms are also as varied as the people who sleep there. They may be subdued and soft, bright and cheerful or dark and sensuous.

These examples point out an­other important consideration. Not only must the colors be appro­priate for the function of the room, but they must also suit the person who will be living there.

It is important that the colors selected reflect the various per­sonalities. One ambiance would be terrific for one person and terrible for another.

Once you have decided upon the function of the room, thus perhaps eliminating the use of some colors and bringing into serious consider­ation a range of others, you set out to decide which would be most expressive of you and your per­sonality.

Look around where you are liv­ing now. Is there a bowl, a certain painting, an area rug or a piece of fabric that you have particularly liked for a long time? If there is, analyze it. There may be pattern and design, but much more likely, you're also responding to the col­or.

Look through magazines and wander through stores. Try to respond to the various color com­binations used in furniture and clothes displays and ignore the actual styles. It may take awhile to train your eye, but try to react to the color only and not the pattern or design.

Is there a certain dress or pat­terned scarf you find yourself wearing over and over? Do you gravitate toward certain colors because they complement you?

A room should complement you just the same as any outfit you select to wear. It is equally an expression of you.

You may admire a furniture dis­play at a store, a newly decorated room at a friend's house or a new dress that someone is wearing, but that doesn't mean it's appro­priate for you.

You may like many colors, but once you have determined the function of the room and chosen those colors that not only suit the use but also reflect you and your personality, the selection of a col­or scheme becomes a lot easier and a lot less confusing.