If you were dragging your feet to accept that the temporary leave from the office back in March wasn’t going to be permanent, it should become clear that the remote work lifestyle is going to be here for a while longer.
It’s been seven months since many of us have set foot inside our offices, where the mundane grays and blues of office furniture and bright lighting were our space — our productive working space — but now it’s become our couch, our kitchen, and maybe even on some days, our bed.
Coffeeshops and libraries still aren’t an option. Maybe you were fortunate to enjoy some outdoor working if your WiFi was strong enough, but that’s coming to an end soon with the cooler autumn months here now.
If you’ve been sitting around your home waiting to ride this storm out, well the jokes on you: the coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending any time soon. Companies have called for work-from-home arrangements for the rest of 2020, while others have even extended such measures into 2021.
In an effort to create some sort of office semblance at-home, companies have shipped workers things like monitors, desks, and chairs to bring some work elements for home use. In some cases, companies have even offered allowances to employees to design a space at home for work. While it felt fresh and new in the beginning, chances are that your home office has likely turned into any other room in your home.
If you’re looking to spruce things up around your working space, it can be accomplished much easier (and affordably) with just a little color.
Whether it’s repainting the walls or adding an item or two to display a different shade from the rest of the room, color can play an important role in boosting our well-being and productivity.
In an office setting, color can be used as an effective tool for marketing. Research has shown that certain colors can increase or decrease appetite, enhance mood, and even calm down patrons. Bright colors can often provide an uplifting effect on your mood, while cooler colors such as blue can create a calming effect that might just come useful during this period of uncertainty.
So, how do you get the most out of color? Take it from Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Eiseman is a famed color guru and the brains behind Pantone’s annual Color of the Year, which influences fashion trends and many other color forecasts around the globe.
While promoting productivity through color can be difficult based on personal habits and professions, Eiseman told Ladders that there are ways to settle into a more comfortable surrounding that can affect other areas of your life.
“There are certain colors that have been studied that have been shown to have specific effects on mood — there’s no question on that,” Eiseman said.
What colors you should use in your home
This year’s choice — Classic Blue (Pantone 19-4052) — is one Eiseman particular noted. In December, she said that Classic Blue “encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”
In general, blues are a safe bet — but not all of them. Electric or bright blues can give off a different vibe, but twilight and classic blues like sky blue can be a “soothing, dependable color.”
Eiseman attributes this effect to nature and youth. She says behind every grey cloud is a blue sky waiting.
“No matter where we live in the world from the time when we were little children, we know that when we look outside the sky is a beautiful blue,” she said.
For people living in close quarters with little to no light coming into their home or home office, Eiseman suggested painting the ceiling blue because it mimics the sky and connects us to the rest of the world. She even has it in her own home; her master bathroom’s ceiling is painted blue with white, puffy clouds.
If blue isn’t to your liking, try green. The great outdoors and nature have always been a sanctuary, but never before has it become as important as it is today.
With nature being one of the only outlets of freedom during COVID-19, the color you are most often to see is green. Like blue, green can also give off calm vibes and make people more relaxed.
“There are so many varieties of green,” she said. “It just spans the spectrum all the way from the warmest yellow-greens on one side to the bluest-greens on the other side.”
Eiseman said the color is used commonly in therapeutic settings because green makes a connection to nature and studies have shown that humans are more inclined to taking deeper breathes when surrounded by green.
From dark greens to lighter shades, an entire room or wall doesn’t need to be dedicated to the color, but objects — like coasters, paintings, and plants — can naturally promote the color and create a closer connection to nature, according to Eiseman.
“There’s a really important element to making you feel more calm and relaxed. Of all the colors in the spectrum, it’s the blues and the greens that really have been proven to elevate mood,” she said.
Eiseman said there are two things to consider before adding color to a room: how much light comes into the room and the mood you want to create.
For people living in warmer atmospheres, she suggests looking at blue-greens to give a cooling effect. Warmer greens can provide a lift — especially when the season’s change — like for people living in New York, while bright and warm yellow-greens can be very stimulating but maybe a little too much since it’s an invigorator, she said.
If you’re looking for a more zen-like feel, softer greens can help create a soothing feel.
Yellow can also be a mood booster and can also create manufactured sunlight within homes, especially if you live in climates where sunlight is seasonal. While lighting can also help, Eiseman said painting walls with a yellow-based color can help give a room a little pop or an object that your eye can light on.
“It doesn’t have to be four walls in a room,” she said. “It can be a poster that sits across your desk, a window treatment that you’re looking at, or even an object on your desk. Anything that your eye can linger on for a few moments [can provide a lift]. Even a glistening paperweight — these are the kind of mental tricks that you can play on yourself to elevate your mood.”
What colors you should avoid in your home
Eiseman is adamant about providing recommendations for colors, but she’s not an advocate against any specific blend. In her words, color has a certain affinity to everyone.
“For some people, goth is a really big deal,” she said. “As a general rule of thumb, anything that would enclose you or make you feel restricted — especially something as dark as black — would do that. Anything that will make you feel much more sequestered than you are.”
Her example was the color wine. A fan of wine could have a wall painted in the color, but an entire room splashed in a wine color could be overwhelming, she said.
Instead of going all-out on darker colors, Eiseman suggested lighting things up.
“Colors like red are exciting and aggressive,” she said. “But for some people who need a jolt, a red object can be exactly the thing they need to pull them out of their doldrums.”
The one color that Eiseman specifically recommended for a small home makeover was peach — or Mother of Pearl (Pantone – 1210006).
For those looking for a warm, naturing atmosphere, Eiseman said it could open up space and help change things ever so slightly.
“It’s very soft. There’s a slight peach tone and it’s not really too peach — there’s a little beige in it,” she said. “For people who like neutrals and live in a neutral surrounding that they’re tired of, this is a great baby step to take away from the usual taupe grey, beige, off-white.”
She added: “I’m not one of those people who says always do this and never do that. It depends on the situation and the person. In the end, you have to love the color.”