Article: Speak Easy

Colour Your  Walls, Colour  Your Mood with Michael BoturColour Your Walls, Colour Your Mood with Michael Botur

My lounge has a retro (read: outdated) palate of orange and yellow. On the walls are a large Tongan tapa cloth, a medium-sized Salvador Dalí poster, a small painting and some tiny art by the kids. Also on the lounge wall: the heat pump, some shelves, fly spots, and some weird Indian pattern on cloth, plus a tear in the wall paper I can’t take my eyes off. It’s all horribly mismatched and bugs the hell out of me, but at least the irritation compels me to write a column delighting thousands of Northlanders.

The folks over at Resene agree that what’s on our walls affects our health and wellbeing. Their website includes a column arguing “chronic illnesses can in some way be influenced by colour,” which is a pretty bold claim to make. In fact if this were the USA, they might be sued for publishing that sort of thing. Further down the page, they specify that it is “specifically mood, emotion and some aspects of mental performance” which colours help with.

Resene quotes “chromologist” Karen Haller who specifies “The promotion of a greater sense of wellbeing, particularly in long-term care environments, is possible when colour schemes and design are carefully considered and planned.”

Absolutely – no argument there. In fact the only thing I do argue with is whether ‘chromologist’ is a word, because it’s not in the Oxford dictionary. Maybe it’s in the Hogwarts dictionary.

Anyway, what’s on our walls impacts us big time. Orange is linked with improved mood and alertness; navy blue is a colour which implies trust, honesty and reliability, strength and unity. The darker the blue, the more professional, serious and conservative. The soft greens in many hospitals seen around the world are arguably an effort by designers to creates a soothing, stress-free milieu.

There’s also the language of colours. Resene offers us paint names with deliberate connotations to steer our minds. It’s not pea soup green or dirt brown anymore – no, you can decorate your living space with Kakapo (green), Optimist (turquoise blue), ‘Coast’ (charcoal blue), Transmission (grey) and, er, ‘Sea fog,’ which isn’t invisible. It’s just whitish.

Want painful yellow walls like me? Try “Resene Melting Moment,” which is a soft yellow which kind of sounds like my house is on fire.

But I digress.
Here’s a brief list of aspects which my research suggests will positively improve my yucky lounge, your yucky dining room, or basically anyone’s yucky room:

• Let lots of light in, whether through more curtain access, or mirrors, or adjustments
to curtains
• Consider the height of the ceiling, because according to a 2007 US Journal of
Consumer Research article by Joan Meyers-Levy and Rui Zhu, high ceilings
activate the right section of the brain, which is associated with abstract thinking,
while low ceilings activate concentrated thinking.
• Mix angular furniture with round cushions and vases. This is “incorporating soft
geometry,” in designer-speak
• Bring in good old pot plants – peace lillies, aloe vera, spider plants and snake
plants can all handle the shadows and are all effective air purifying houseplants
and don’t need much maintenance.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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