This past weekend I took part in an experiment about mood and color. Each night I slept in a different-colored room, monitoring how I felt and how I slept and what waking up in a room of that particular color did to my mood.
First night: Yellow and Mushroom
The facts: I arrived at the Ace Hotel and checked into my room, curious as to what color I'd been assigned. The Comex Group, who was sponsoring the experiment, had put each of us in a different room. My room was mostly yellow banded with a border of mushroom. The wall behind the bed and the one dividing the main area from the sink had been covered in a bright, saturated, traffic-cone yellow. I've got mixed feelings about yellow. It's the present color of my soon-to-be-painted living room so I'm used to it but it is definitely not well-represented in the rest of my life. In fact, there are only two objects among the rest of my stuff -- a paperweight and a canvas tote -- that are yellow.
The feelings: At night the yellow didn't bother me. Counterbalanced by the natural, neutral furnishings and textures -- worn wood chairs, a brown and white cowhide, natural untreated canvas covering one wall, the beds and the window, leather stools, a slightly washed denim headboard -- the overall impression was of the sun on a deep desert landscape. Waking up in it was a different story. It felt jarring and slightly irritating, the way you'd feel towards someone who'd woken you up just a too early, whistling and full of energy to start a day you'd have rather eased into.
Conclusion: Yellow in the bedroom recommended only as an accent wall behind a bed.
How to make it work: Think metaphorically when decorating with bright yellow in a calm, cool room like a bedroom -- sun over desert sands. Balance the peppy color with simple textures and shades of cream and brown. Let the color take center stage by pairing it with simple furnishings.
Second night, Navy and Pink
The facts: The second night found me in a room where the decorative slats had been painted a deep navy blue banded with an intense pink.
The feelings: In the small room, the navy was powerful and intense. When I returned to the room after dinner for a quick nap, the velvety color made it difficult to rally myself for the rest of the evening's activities though the pink made me feel uneasy.
Conclusion: A dark bedroom can feel warm and cozy; it may also make it more difficult to leave. Consider a deep navy if you want to balance a bedroom that gets a lot of light or to encourage an early bird to stay abed a little while longer.
How to make it work: Balance a deep wall color with light furnishings and linens so that the room doesn't feel oppressive. A pop of bright color keeps it from feeling somber.
Third night, Shade of bright blue
The facts: Same room, different colors. A bright blue was tempered with a band of deeper blue.
The feelings: Like the baby bear's bed in the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the blue room struck a good balance. I felt comfortable hanging out in this room; it wasn't so bright I felt compelled to leave nor so dark I felt discouraged from going out.
Conclusion: Especially in a warm climate, cool shades of blue feel cool, calm and playful.
How to make it work: Get playful with your furnishings. The red and white lamps really worked in here.
Images 1 & 2: Morgan Satterfield; Image 3: Laure Joliet