There's a lot to be said about the color of a room. It's not just a backdrop for your artwork or collectables; how you choose to hue a room is a reflection of who you are. In addition, color has been shown to alter people's moods, behavior, feelings, and state of mind. At any rate, how your walls are cast at home and at work influences more than just the showcasing of your wares; it affects you, your family, and even colleagues, as well as each visitor who steps foot in your abode or office space, and how you all live, play, and work.

"It's a proven science that color can calm the anxious, stimulate the creative, set the tone for learning, and give security to the worried," noted Stan DesCarpentrie, president of Interiors-Roecker's Inc. in Peoria. "In our homes, we choose colors we look best in without even realizing it. Most people wear the same basic undertones in their wardrobes, because they're comfortable with the look—their homes reflect those same colors."

In an article written for paint professionals, Linda Trent, director of Color & Design Marketing for The Sherwin-Williams Company, agreed. "Color does more than free us from a ho-hum, black-andwhite existence. Evidence is mounting that suggests color exerts a subtle influence on human behavior. At work or play, consciously or subconsciously, people respond to the colors around them."

Trent says that people tend to think rooms decorated in cool colors, such as green and blue, are cooler in temperature. Likewise, sensations of heat can stem from being in a room that has red, orange, and other warm tones. "Other studies document that cool colors can actually decrease metabolic energy, while warm colors can increase it," she continued. "Such evidence from behavioral scientists validates the long-held belief that color can affect people's concentration, attention span, mood, and productivity."

Perhaps because many are beginning to cash in on the color hype, hues in the home are serious business for paint, design, and color experts, as well as typical do-it-yourself-ers. Interior- Roecker's Inc., which has been creating color for the Peoria area for over 63 years, works with residential, commercial, and industrial accounts providing quality Benjamin Moore and Pittsburgh paints, wallpaper, product knowledge, and color planning. Interior-Roeckers offers unique "In-Home Color Consultations," in which professionals come to your site to show you how to make the most of your space, both inside and outside. "Being in tune with the do-ityourself market and the professional painters, we're able to either walk the client through the application of paint, faux finishes, floor finishes, and wallpaper, or connect them with a qualified applicator."

And speaking of serious business, all you Pottery Barn fans may be interested to hear that the home decorating industry leader has paired up with Benjamin Moore—all the Pottery Barn catalog settings utilize the color leader's paints. DesCarpentrie said that the partnership is bound to change the face of color. In addition, as noted on web site www.sensationalcolor.com, color experts Pantone (widely sourced by a variety of creative professional industries) are teaming up with Fine Paints of Europe—but be warned, these gallons will set you back $100.

So how do you go about choosing the right paint for you? When approaching a store for an initial consultation, you should bring as much information as possible: samples of your flooring, cabinets, countertops, furniture, favorite accessories, and if possible, photos. Keep in mind it's not all about color; once you decide on a general color tone for a room, then you must select from specific brands, gloss/semi-gloss/flat, washability, the many hues and saturations within your color, and more. "Choosing color isn't just picking a chip off the rack; it's finding out about the customer's home, furnishings, likes/dislikes, and style," said Descarpentrie. "Be aware that you get what you pay for in both product and service. Use a quality product to get quality results, and come to a store that's interested in the success of your project—not just in selling you."

Before you go into the many details of the exact paint you may need, consider the emotional effects colors have on people so that you select an option which best suits you, your family, and potential guests. In an article by Michele Dawson in Realty Times (www.realtytimes.com), readers were given the following color considerations.

Red demands attention, has great emotional impact, and makes us feel empowered. Great for a play area or workout room.

Orange is exciting; it's cheerful in bright tones, and exotic in deeper tones. Orange and red hues increase appetite and induce laughter, and are a good choice for the dining room.

Yellow exudes warmth and enlightenment. It's good for brightening up a small, dark office; and works well in the kitchen in softer shades.

Green is fresh, secure, calm, and tranquil. Good for restful areas like bathrooms and bedrooms—but test it out first, as the wrong tint will turn your reflection's skin tone yellow.

Violet stands for luxury and sensuality, so it's perfect for the bedroom. Lighter, more comforting and assuring shades are a good choice.

Brown represents physical comfort, ease, and contentment. Great for neutral areas like living rooms and kitchens, and for areas bridging one room to another, like hallways.

Pink symbolizes sharing. Less-girly tinges can often be found in family rooms and dining rooms.

Blue is the color of tranquility; it brings comfort and serenity. Also good for bathrooms and bedrooms.

What about the other places you spend time in? Not all of us stay cooped up at home; many of us spend what seems like half of our lives at the office. Sherwin-Williams' Trent explained that although the motivation aspects of color selection may not be as obvious as, say, the necessity of bold-colored danger zones on the job or light-reflecting colors in places that demand easy visibility, they're no less real. "Cool colors can ease the tension caused by highly detailed work or noisy machinery. Off-whites and pastel tints make cramped areas appear more spacious and give workers a psychological lift. Warm colors are effective in lunch and break rooms to dispel boredom and create a cozier atmosphere to stimulate conversation. And bright accents in time clock areas and locker rooms can create a cheerful atmosphere for workers to begin and end each workday."

But know that home office spaces have their own set of color rules. As Behr, an esteemed paint product company, notes on its web site (www.behr.com), "In home offices, try to strive for a look between residential and commercial. For example, smart and warm rather than cool and corporate. Use colors from the rest of the house to help tie your office in with the living areas." Use bright hues as accents, rather than as the main colors—but still implement vibrant colors sparingly into the room to create the level of stimulation you need to work effectively.

Color affects us in many different ways, and it's everywhere—in nature, clothing, art, technology, and of course, the colors of our walls at home and work. Choose wisely, and you'll find yourself comfortable when you need to be, calm when you want to be, and energetic when you can really use it. a&s