8 Ways That Color Can Make Your Home a Happier Place

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Do you feel happy when you think back to your childhood bedroom? Does contemplating your favorite restaurant make you hungry? Chances are good that the color schemes of your favorite places are at least partially responsible for how you feel about them.

Color psychology is the study of how color can influence and guide human emotions. Color might seem to be only a matter of taste, but there is some scientific evidence to suggest that the purposeful use of color can also affect your mood (though specific health benefits have not been established). A soothing environment can contribute to stress reduction and an increased feeling of wellbeing; health care providers use color psychology to offer a calming and relaxing environment for their patients [PDF].

If there's a particular hue that makes you smile, take up a paintbrush and go wild—painting a room is one of the easiest ways to redecorate. "I suggest choosing a color that makes you feel happy and at home. After all, that's what is really important when designing a home," says Allie Wilmoth, a residential interior designer in Wake Forest, North Carolina, who specializes in color selection.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. ORANGE ADDS WARMTH AND EXCITEMENT TO YOUR COOKING.

Bored with your meal prep? Make dining in more interesting by giving your kitchen a coat of orange paint. Orange is a warm, energetic color that stimulates the appetite (just think of how many fast-food restaurant logos incorporate oranges, reds, and yellows). This tone can give you an energy boost and inspire creativity and conversation.

"The color orange is the most social of all colors. It stimulates conversation, communication, and interaction. It reflects youth and energy and is a great choice for anywhere you want lots of action, activity, and high energy," Jane Lockhart, a Toronto-area interior designer and host of the TV series Colour Confidential, tells Mental Floss. "Orange is a great choice for a gym, family room, kitchen, or as an accent wall in a child’s bedroom."

2. GREEN MEANS SWEET DREAMS.

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to let go of the day’s stress, try using color to help you sleep more peacefully. "Light shades of green are the most restful, calming colors in the spectrum," Lockhart says. "Green is associated with earth, new growth, and new beginnings. It is a color full of life, inspiration, peace, and good health."

Green is also a great color for anyone who longs for the great outdoors. "If a city apartment dweller is looking for a natural feel within their space, I highly recommend a cool color scheme," Wilmoth tells Mental Floss. "Utilizing green and blue and coordinating a gray neutral color will help the small space feel larger, and an analogous color scheme of blues and greens creates a harmonious natural feel."

3. RED BRINGS EXCITEMENT WHEREVER IT GOES.

Red conjures up images of fire, movement, and excitement. Use red to liven up any space in your house and invite interaction—it's a warm and vibrant color can stimulate passion, whether it’s conversation in the living room or amorous activities. "Red is a great color to use for a kitchen, dining room, or bedroom," Lockhart says. But red can be a little overpowering (and possibly raise your blood pressure!), so you might want to limit it to a single wall or a piece of accent furniture, especially in a smaller room.

4. BLUE MOTIVATES AND STIMULATES (BUT IT ALSO CALMS AND SOOTHES).

Blue does it all. "Blue has been linked with productivity, honesty, and authority," Lockhart says. "It’s great for offices because of its motivating attributes. Blue helps stimulate the energy you need to get the work done." Blue can make you feel calm, centered, and content wherever you use it, which makes it a great color for the bedroom as well as the home office. "Cooler blues and greens evoke feelings of quiet and solitude, making it one of my go-to choices in bedrooms," Wilmoth says.

5. NEED YOUR SPACE? TRY WHITE.

If a bigger place isn’t in your budget, white can give the illusion of space and height. It can also create an open, airy feeling in your entryway or hall. If a bright white tone feels too contemporary or sterile to you, try a pale gray or cream. "Using one color, wrapped around the whole room, will help the viewer's eye travel throughout the space," Lockhart says.

6. PURPLE BRINGS CREATIVITY AND DRAMA.

Violet inspires the creative, mysterious and sensual. Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, has been named the color of 2018 by Pantone Color Institute, the global authority on color. This particular shade of violet "takes our awareness and potential to a higher level," according to the Pantone website.

If painting your bedroom or office purple seems a bit much, try painting an accent wall to add a new shade of creative inspiration to your environment. "Even just one wall would add uniqueness and a bold statement of individuality," Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, tells Mental Floss.

7. PERK UP YOUR MORNINGS WITH PINK.

Pink is fun and energetic. "Rose tones are always good in a bathroom or bedroom, because they add a healthy glow to the skin," Eiseman says. Paint your bathroom a playful shade of pink to give yourself a boost of happiness in the morning before starting your workday. If the idea of a pink bathroom leaves you cold, try a sunshiny yellow for the same warm and uplifting effect.

8. YELLOW BRINGS SUNLIGHT INDOORS.

Like blue, yellow works in many parts of the home, especially in rooms that lack natural light. This joyous tone might even increase your home's appeal to buyers. "Yellow, or any other warm-based color like coral, is fabulous—it's considered a happy and uplifting color," Eiseman says. "It is especially good in rooms that are dark or don't get a lot of light. Kitchens, entryways, and living rooms are good in these tones. They are convivial, friendly and make you feel like you are surrounded by sunshine—they're a great mood lifter."

Simply put, a gallon or two of paint can transform a room—and your attitude—for the better.

93-Year-Old Toymaker Donates Hundreds of Handcrafted Wooden Creations to Children

Ed Higinbotham holds a toy with Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Broadwater.
Ed Higinbotham holds a toy with Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Broadwater.
Courtesy of Brittany Hoke, WTAE

Some folks are doing more than their part to ensure no child goes without presents this holiday season. In Pennsylvania, 93-year-old toymaker Ed Higinbotham donates hundreds of his handcrafted wooden toys to children in need each Christmas. He’s been doing it for about 30 years, and state police help him distribute the toys to homeless shelters and Head Start programs in the area.

Higinbotham is a self-taught craftsman who took up woodworking as a hobby. Initially, he says he just wanted something to keep his hands busy, but toymaking soon turned into a passion. Today, he works year-round from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in his workshop in Georges Township, about 55 miles south of Pittsburgh, to ensure he has enough toys for the holidays.

He fashions cars, trucks, and horse-drawn tractors out of wood, taking great care to include the small details, like the ladder on a fire truck or the bridle on the horse’s head. When asked if he was Santa Claus incarnate, he replied, "It's just something that I enjoy doing and now I make somebody else happy, and if that's Santa Claus then I'm Santa Claus."

[h/t WTAE]

What’s the Difference Between Crocheting and Knitting?

djedzura/iStock via Getty Images
djedzura/iStock via Getty Images

With blustery days officially upon us, the most pressing question about your sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens is probably: “Are these keeping me warm?” If you’re a DIY enthusiast, or just a detail-oriented person in general, your next question might be: “Were these knitted or crocheted?”

Knitting and crocheting are both calming crafts that involve yarn, produce cozy garments and other items, and can even boost your mental well-being. Having said that, they do have a few specific differences.

To knit, you need needles. The size, material, and number of those needles depends on the project; though most traditional garments are made using two needles, it’s also possible to knit with just one needle, or as many as five. But regardless of the other variables, one or both ends of your knitting needles will always be pointed.

While crocheting calls for a similar long, thin tool that varies in size and material, it has a hooked end—and you only ever need one. According to The Spruce Crafts, even if you hear people refer to the tool as a crochet needle, they’re really talking about a crochet hook.

crotchet hook and garment
jessicacasetorres/iStock via Getty Images

Part of the reason you only use one hook brings us to the next difference between crocheting and knitting: When crocheting, there’s only one “active loop” on your hook at any given time, whereas knitting entails lining up loops down the length of your needles and passing them between needles. The blog Darn Good Yarn explains that since each loop is attached to a long row of stitches, accidentally “dropping” one off the end of your needle might unravel the entire row.

Of course, you have a better chance of avoiding that type of manual error if you’re using a knitting machine or loom, which both exist. Crocheting, on the other hand, has to be done by hand. Since machines can create garments with extremely small stitches, some knit clothes can be much more lightweight or close-fitting than anything you’d be able to crochet—and knitted clothes can also be mass-produced.

When it comes to what the items actually look like, crochet stitches characteristically look more like knots, while knit stitches seem flatter and less bulky. However, materials and techniques have come a long way over the years, and now there’s more crossover between what you’re able to knit and crochet. According to The Spruce Crafts, socks and T-shirts—traditionally both garments that would be knitted—can now technically be crocheted.

knitting needles and garment
Sedan504/iStock via Getty Images

And, believe it or not, knitting and crocheting can even be used to depict complicated mathematical concepts: see what a crocheted hyperbolic plane, Lorenz manifold, and more look like here.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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