Design 101

Choosing Interior Color Schemes

Answer these five essential questions to help you pick the perfect color palette.

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Are you unhappy with your home's interior design? If so, you may be the victim of a bad color scheme. It's no secret that color can either make or break a design, but luckily, neither is finding out how to choose the perfect color palette for you.

When the color's right, it can:
• Enhance feelings of health and wellbeing
• Modify perceived temperature — make your space feel warmer or cooler
• Transform perceived space — make your space feel larger, or more cozy and intimate
• Illuminate dark areas
• Create mystery and romance in dull areas
• Energize static areas

But it has to be the right color for you. Color, and the psychology of color, is a big design trend says Barbara Jacobs, principal of Barbara Jacobs Color & Design. "But generalizations — green is relaxing, blue is soothing, red is energizing — only apply when certain hues are used," she says. "A sharp, electric green definitely would not be relaxing; a deep blue-green might feel cold instead of soothing. The wrong red used in an entire room might create the sensation of entrapment rather than energy."

Before planning color in your personal environment, make a mini-questionnaire and poll yourself and your family. Your answers are 50 percent of the project because your color choices depend on them for direction, Jacobs says. She gives her clients a very long questionnaire with hundreds of questions, but you can start with these five. The answers will lead you to your new color scheme.

1. Where is the room?

2. How many windows are there and which direction do they face?

3. Is there landscaping outside that will have an effect on the colors in the room?

4. Who will use the room, and what will they do there? Is it private or community space?

5. Will it be a sociable and active place, or a peaceful place? How do I want it to feel?

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