Blue: Often associated with sea and sky, this peaceful, calm, cool color is said to reduce stress and tension. Blue isn’t very reflective, so it can soften and tone down a very bright, sunny room. Pure blue can be very cold — especially in small or dark rooms — and may need to be warmed up with yellow, orange, or red accents. Blue is a good choice for a bathroom (especially a blue-green shade like aqua or turquoise, or a blue-purple shade like lilac) or a bedroom.
Yellow: An uplifting color, reminding you of sunny, summer days, yellow stirs up happy emotions. It brings warmth, energy, and light into the darkest of rooms — and because of its high reflective value, it tends to make small rooms look bigger and brighter. Cheerful and welcoming, yellow is a good choice for for a kitchen or breakfast room, a hallway or landing. If you don’t have much in the way of furnishing or accessories, use a bold yellow on the walls to create a united look; it’s also a great backdrop for interesting vases, statues, etc.
Orange: Invigorating and exciting, orange can also make rooms seem cozy and inviting. In its purest form, orange can be as strong and advancing as red, so the same cautions apply. The paler versions of this color, such as peach and apricot, are warm and welcoming; the deeper versions, such as terracotta and chestnut, are versatile accent colors. The softer tones (both paler and deeper shades) are perfect for warming up a chilly dining room or a north-facing room. Based on a traditional Swedish toy, this bright-orange wooden “Stolle” horse (right) is available in four different colors and styles at Ikea.
Green: The color of spring, regeneration, balance, and hope, green is the color of nature. It generally creates a soothing atmosphere, but a vibrant green can also bring a fresh feel to a dark basement or apartment. Combine mid and deep green with pale yellow to bring the freshness of spring into your home. Light green is ideal for a room leading into a garden or onto a balcony; a deeper green brings to mind a traditional library. Deep green can be overpowering in small spaces, however, so be careful how you use it. Right, a dark verdi brush wall console with gold accents by Menardi Iron Design.
Purple: Associated with royalty and formal pageantry, purple straddles the warm-cool fence: blue-violet is a cool color; red-violet is warm. The soft tones — lilac, lavender, and pale mauve and violet — are restful and create the illusion of space in a small room. Deep purple is a strong, vibrant color, and usually needs to be toned down with neutrals or pastels.