It's well known that color has a profound effect on how we feel. Certain shades are always associated with certain emotions, so it goes without saying that the colors we bring into our home will have an impact on our mood.
In terms of the feeling you want to have when walking around your home, happy is the first one that comes to mind for most. But can you design happiness? And is it as simple as choosing a color? For interior designers discovering the color that will make a client happy is key to unlocking their perfect interiors, but how do you do that?
We want to uncover the perfect colors for a happy bedroom, so we spoke with designers about the perfect joyful shades to bring into your sleep space.
5 colors to make a bedroom feel happier
Designer Victoria Sass at Prospect Refuge Studio believes that the first step to creating a happy space is to look at the colors that bring you joy. She explains:
'Do you find joy in an energetic environment, or is happiness a more tranquil abode? Take a good hard look in the mirror and be honest with what you find. Never design for anyone else, but you and your home’s current occupants. Designing for others or the next homeowner is the surest way to end up in unhappy territory.'
So bedroom colors that make you happy are personal, grey might make one person instantly feel gloomy, while another may be filled with joy, however, there are shades that are universally known to give a heavy dose of dopamine...
Can green make you happy? According to Ruth Mottershead, at Little Greene, it can create a positive space, which is akin to making us feel happy. She explains, 'Green is a fantastic color to embrace in any room, creating tranquil, positive spaces that make us feel nurtured, harnessing the calming effects of nature indoors. This restful atmosphere may be exactly what you are seeking in a bedroom.'
Interior designer Liz Williams agrees, 'Lately it seems greens, and blues, are what we are gravitating towards. For me the color green stimulates happiness. I feel like many different shades of green bring the outside into the room and that makes me happy. Greens can be accents in a room or the main palette, whether a bright leafy green or a subtle celery green. Green works with every other color, so it is easy!'
When designing a green bedroom, Liz likes to contrast the fresh tones of green with furnishings and bedding that are softer, 'I love crisp white linens as a contrast to whatever “happy” colors are used in the room. Pillows can be the pop of color on the bed. Curtains can have strong color and pattern or be a calmer fabric with a bold trim. Wall color can make a difference as well.'
Victoria Sass adds, 'Green in particular can do no wrong in my book. It’s the color of plants and it feels like life in the most peaceful and soothing way.'
Ruth Mottershead is the creative director of the family-run paint and wallpaper businesses Little Greene and Paint & Paper Library, which specialize in creating luxurious paint and wallpaper that represent 300 years of decorative history.
2. Soft neautrals
For a calming effect, that will make you feel happy and content, a warm neutral bedroom scheme is a brilliant choice. The softness of these palettes ushers in a composed and sedate energy which will add to the sense of calm you wish to create, subdued creams and soft whites, pale greys, warm beiges and delicate milk chocolate notes will bring this style to the fore.
Designer Karen Wolf, K&Co Livingadds, 'If you want to create a light-filled, airy, calm, relaxed and cozy space, add relaxed fabrics like linen to create a comfortable bedding ensemble. To keep the environment calm, use a warmer neutral palette. Landscape art as the subject matter is simple and recognizable which contributes to a calm space. If there is the opportunity, height in a main bedroom opens up the room to add to the lighter feel. Various textures in the rug, bedding, and bedroom window treatments can also layer into the room.'
'Who wouldn’t want to wake up to buttery yellow? It makes us feel uplifted every day,' says interior designer Gemma McCloskey founder of Cúpla. Yellow is invariably linked to sunshine and warmth, and therefore happiness.
Designer Sara Story entirely agrees, 'A pop of yellow is happy and reminds me of the sun… or the shades of a sunset always connect to happiness, peaceful and tranquillity.'
A bold yellow may be a little too vibrant for some but you can find hues of yellow in much softer, delicate buttery notes, or warmer daffodil tones, depending on how bright and brave you wish to be.
Victoria Sass cautions, 'With yellow a little goes a long way so think carefully and be deliberate with your use of the shade. An armoire, a ceiling, or a bit of bedding could be all you need to create a calming but still happy yellow bedroom scheme.'
Since founding her eponymous design firm, Sara Story has forged a reputation for imparting to all of her projects an ineffable style she can truly call her own. Drawing inspiration from extensive travels, an active interest in contemporary art and fashion, and a rigorous lifestyle, Sara wields a keen eye to exact her aesthetic vision: crisp, elegant, and comfortable gestures that thoughtfully balance multiple elements of good design for an everyday, polished life.
4. Complementary colors
'I think a complementary color combination is the most happy combination,' says Victoria Sass.'There is an element of the unexpected with this collection of colors that I think wakes up our brain and keeps us engaged with our space.'
Waking up bursting with positive energy can only bring happiness so choosing a complementary color scheme (colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel) will always give you a boost.
Designer Jay Jeffers says, 'While I’m known to love bold, bright colors, the bedroom color that defines happiness is really up to the client and their personality! We have captured one client’s vision of ‘happiness’ and love of modernism by implementing bold colors in their bedroom alongside playful patterns.'
'I really like to mix and match vibrant colors with other patterns like floral, striped and geometric styles, as long as the various patterns are in the same color tones or complementary colors, it makes for an eclectic, yet cohesive vibe.' he adds.
Victoria Sass is and award-winning, Minneapolis-based interior designer who founded Prospect Refuge Studio in 2015.
5. Earthy tones
'My job as an interior designer is to help clients uncover what will make them happy. What feelings are they trying to elicit as they enter and exit the waking world? How do they want to feel during those quiet, or not so quiet, moments before bed and when rising? explains designer Meghan Eisenberg.
Warming shades of pale reds, browns and pinks provide the soft-toned basis to create a relaxing and happy atmosphere. Textures come into their own in this environment and add to the comforting aesthetic, a boucle headboard, a soft-toned rose rug, and woollen bed throws all contribute to this.
Meghan adds, 'Personally, I have a very overactive mind and thus I prefer my bedroom to feel calming, comforting, and uncomplicated. I find that warm colors evoke that sentiment, be it a warm white plaster or an undyed grasscloth, as well as washed out colors inspired by nature, a sage green or a grey blue.'
What colors and tones in the bedroom will make us happy?
This question is almost impossible to answer as we have discovered, happiness is so personal, and therefore the colors that make each of us feel delight will be unique to every one of us.
'Certain colors are associated to moods, and this can differ for everyone, as our memories and individual color associations come into play too, explains Ruth Mottershead. She goes on, 'Rather than following trends, it’s important to choose colors that speak to you personally.'
If feeling calm and relaxed makes you happy, then soft neutral tones are the way to go, if you want to feel warmth and relaxation introduce warmer reds and browns.
For fresh energy and pops of bright happiness, yellows of all hues, greens and blues can all provide this. Or you can go all out for bold tones to wake up positive energy and create the zingy bedroom you want at home.
'I think choosing a happy color is personal. Choose a color that makes you happy and then your room will make you happy! We have done happy rooms in almost every color.' Adds Liz Williams.
Whatever color choice you decide on, always experiment first, and if you want color but do not want to go bananas, introduce color through artwork, or through rugs, curtains, and cushions.
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Hannah Newton is a lifestyle, interiors, travel and design journalist and editor who has been writing for the past two decades, she has written for national newspapers including The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Observer as well as interiors titles Elle Decoration and Architectural Digest in the UK and across Europe, South Africa and Australia.
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