We are all so full of good intentions in January. I find that the most common New Year’s resolutions are connected to establishing healthier lifestyles: less food and drink, more exercise, quit this, start that, so many promises that are doomed to failure after a few weeks. My resolutions aren’t always manageable, but one I have kept and continue to work on is to make my home a place where I and my family can truly relax, de-stress and refuel. It doesn’t happen overnight; renovating and decorating always take a toll while the work is going on. But keep the end vision in mind, and the results will give you much contentment.
While searching for the right colors and patterns for your home, it’s helpful to understand a bit about the power of color. It can arouse and energize, soothe and satisfy. Think about how you feel when surrounded by mossy green, woody browns and creamy white. How about water-clear shades of aqua, crystal-pure blues and purples? Here’s a general guide to colors that are found to promote a relaxing, stress-free environment.
On one of my favorite “Painted House” episodes, the challenge was to transform a bedroom into a private sanctuary for a busy mom with another baby on the way. I chose calm (and delicious) shades of brown ranging from frothy cafe au lait to milk chocolate. On the bottom half of the walls, stenciled swirls of an intricate pattern taken from the bed cover offer a gentle focal point that quiets the mind. This peaceful corner is now the perfect spot to curl up with a book, if only for a stolen few moments.
I learned about the power of amethyst when staying at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City. One of the features in their magnificent spa is the Amethyst Crystal Steam Room. Shades of purple, lilac, lavender and mauve are said to be healing, their meditative qualities help to de-clutter the mind. In the steam room, the amethyst is gently lit with subdued color lighting, and a gentle infusion of fragrances enhances the soothing effects of the moist heat. This ambiance can be replicated easily in your bathroom at home with a few focal tiles and some candlelight, and these shades are very on trend for contemporary style as well as creating a soothing effect.
Shades of green connect us to nature. Leafy wallpapers, mossy green paint or aquamarine tiles bring balance and life to a room, and we benefit from the strength of this color. It improves our emotional balance, and brings out the best of our personality traits.
Beige and creamy whites have a gentle purity to them. We may think of these as safe shades, guaranteed not to offend anyone. This is true, but there’s more to it than simplicity. Mother of pearl is thought to bring the healing power of the sea, and is a stress-relieving stone. You can replicate the look with white paint that has just a bit of a pink tint and a semi-gloss sheen. Beiges and light browns represent sand and promote tranquility. Dawn Woodruff Thrasher, a holistic spa consultant I met at a home show a few months ago, understands first-hand the power that comes from healthy mind/brain functioning. Illness and stress muddle us so that we can’t run on all cylinders. As well as working with spa owners, Dawn consults homeowners who want to include an area for any combination of exercise, meditation, yoga or simply relaxing. Thrasher agrees color is important; paint a wall or part of a wall in turquoise, known for its connection to spirituality, set up a reclining chair so that you have this color close by, and hang a picture that will transport your mind to a place that relaxes you.
Before you decorate the bedroom, bathroom or sitting room, do a little research into what color can do to help you relax, then resolve to do at least one room that will invite you to let go of the stress.