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Color 101: Learn the Underlying Meaning of Your Favorite Shades

By: Mark McCauley
November 25, 2014

Whether at home, in the office or in the natural world, we're surrounded by color. And, whether we're aware of it or not, each color affects us on a deeper, subconscious level. Demystify color's hidden meanings to simplify selecting shades for your home. 

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Photo: Tobi Fairley. From: Tobi Fairley.


Statistically, the world's favorite color — blue is beloved because we're all surrounded by it. We live on this big blue marble consisting of sea and sky. When associated with water, blue represents the soft lapping of waves or the running of a clear mountain stream. As the air we breathe, blue is fresh and vital, reminding us of the clarity of a sunlit day under azure skies.

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Associated with life itself, the color green represents newness and rebirth. Think of the trees of the forest: green is photosynthesis, the act of turning light into life. Green also has a whimsical, fun nature and is seen as talkative and stimulating to conversation. 

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Photo: Richard Caplan. From: Susan Galvani.


Red reigns! The color that calls on powerful emotions — either love or hate  — red is the arbiter of our deepest feelings. It's the dynamic motion of flame and the color of the blood that courses through our veins. It's all of the things that mean so much to life itself. Full of ego and emotion, red is the color of our life force.

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Purple brings to mind royalty and ancient civilizations. It's the color of the Muse, of soothsayers and prophets. It is clairvoyant and psychic, headstrong and powerful. Yet it also represents the color of sorrow and passion intertwined, as in the Christian sense, with death and resurrection.

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