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Choose Colors for Ambiance

Color personality tests are fun to take. Who doesn’t enjoy being told that they’re true blue or mellow yellow? They help you choose which shades to wear for effect, such as black for sophistication or blush for innocence, and they can also help you when it comes to choosing colors for your home. 

Color preferences are personal and can vary depending on how a color is used – in clothing, in an automobile, in public spaces, in advertising, in the home and more. Your preferences can also change with age, mood or situation. For example, you may enjoy brighter colors to energize you while you cook, dine, and entertain while preferring a more restful muted palette in bedrooms and baths.    

Dr. Max Lüscher introduced a ground-breaking book in 1969 theorizing that colors impact your emotions and behavior and that the colors you choose or reject says a lot about your personality. The Lüscher Color Diagnostics chart that he developed is still in wide use today in environmental psychology to help workers become more productive, students to concentrate better, and so on. 

The test colors that Lüscher used are blue: contentment, personal connections, and a sense of belonging; green: self-respect, self-control, and the capacity to enjoy; red: self-confidence, activity and how one responds to challenges; and yellow: self-development, forward-thinking, and how one looks toward the future. The test is available in an app on GooglePlay at

Competing points of view soon arose. explains that in the 1970s, True Colors was a personality profiling system created by Don Lowry in which he used the colors blue, orange, gold and green to identify the traits of at-risk youth. Orange is adventurous and live-in-the-moment, gold is rules-oriented and methodical, green is innovative and analytical, while blue is social and compassionate. Lowry believed that everyone has a mixture of all the colors within their personalities. That helps explain why orange may be overwhelming in large doses for any décor, but why it’s a perfectly engaging choice to add life to neutral grays or beiges. 

Colors in residential environments can impact residents’ moods and responses. There are areas where using a color like red in your décor will help you achieve the ambiance you want. Since red is dynamic and energizing, it’s often used in dining rooms to enhance appetites and to stimulate conversation.  

Does that mean you should paint your dining room fire engine red? No, there are many shades of red that are calmer that can supply the stimulating effect you want, such as reds that lean more toward brown or burgundy. 

The important test when choosing color is what effect you want it to have on  

yourself or others in your living and outdoor spaces: 

  • If you’re looking for drama or sophistication, colors that t are oppose each other on the color wheel, like black and white, are excellent choices. Soften the effect with an infusion of calming light blue or green accents.  

  • Whites, greys and beiges, for example, are quiet and conservative, which may lead you to be more introspective and thoughtful. When decorating with neutrals, jazz them up with jolts of lively colors such as fuchsia, red or aqua. 

  • Both pinks and blues are tranquilizing, so they both make excellent colors for living areas and bedrooms.  

  • Purples and greens are refreshing and relaxing, and send a subtle suggestion of wealth and opulence and luxury in darker shades. 

  • It’s counterintuitive, but yellow is optimistic and far from relaxing, so skip this color for babies’ rooms and master suites. However, it’s a good color for studies and kitchens, where concentration is essential.  

If you’re not sure what colors to put where, here’s a simple rule that may help. The closer a color is to brown, the more neutral it is. Even red has a calm shade of itself when brown is part of the formula. So, if you like a certain color, you can always choose a ramped-up or tamped-down version of it for your home. 

So go ahead – make it red!