The Power of Color: How Painting Your Walls Can Transform More Than A Room

Different bright colors of oil paints are mixed on a palette close-up.

The Power of Color: How Painting Your Walls Can Transform More Than A Room

The Power of Color: How Painting Your Walls Can Transform More Than A Room

The Power of Color: How Painting Your Walls Can Transform More Than A Room

Different bright colors of oil paints are mixed on a palette close-up.

From ages six to eighteen, I spent an unholy amount of time watching home renovations and complete interior redesigns on Home & Garden Television (HGTV). It was an activity that my mother and I cherished doing together. After school or on the weekends, we’d turn it on and watch as the skilled interior designers and tradesmen transformed their clients by transforming their properties. 

On Sundays, my mother and I would drive around town looking for open houses. We’d take our time walking through them, pointing out the well-preserved hardware and the creaky floors. We asked the real estate agents countless questions, like ‘Is that stained-glass original to this house?’ In this way, I learned to have a lot of opinions about the state of a home for someone who still had to walk behind a line-leader at school.  

If I had had it my way, I would have pulled up my bedroom’s floorboards one by one in an expedition to unearth a 1970s conversation pit. I would have bought myself a pair of electrician gloves and installed a pendant light after soccer practice. I may have even built myself bay-windows armed with nothing more than sheer will. 

But, alas, I knew my bounds. While I never stopped daydreaming about those lofty plans, I focused on simpler changes that I could make to my surroundings; more specifically, painting my walls. 

I turned my walls into platforms of seafoam blue, then to mint green, an electric orange, and even (during a very rock n roll phase of mine) to jet black. 

In these colours, I saw a physical manifestation of a feeling I was trying to hone within myself. Whether it was to be more calm, fun, or mysterious, the different colours of my bedroom walls felt like a reinforcement of my efforts to highlight a distinct attribute of myself.  

As it turns out, this strategy of reinventing myself via my bedroom walls wasn’t as ludicrous as one may have thought.

In 2017, just about everything but the sun found itself covered with a fresh coat of dusty blush pink paint. Bathroom tiles, makeup packaging, restaurant dining rooms, all came to colour in Millennial Pink. 

Many have associated the rise of Millennial Pink with Alexander Schuass’ Baker-Pink, which he had claimed in a 1981 study decreased physiological variables associated with aggression. There was a wave of discourse claiming that Millennial Pink had a similar calming effect. However, Schuass’ claim had been debunked since 1991.

So, no, pink will not automatically lower your heart rate just because it’s pink. But why did so many people still claim to feel calmer in the presence of Millennial Pink? Turns out, it may create a soothing effect due to personal and cultural associations made with it. 

A 2017 article in Bustle highlights that Millennial Pink may have so easily been accepted as a calming agent because it reminds us of childhood; a time characterised by the feeling of safety and stability. Thus, those same feelings are projected onto a physical element of our space that we are able to passively engage with. 

Millennial Pink is not the only colour to have its moment in the past decade. A myriad of forest greens made their way into kitchens all over the world during the pandemic. As we were all sheltered in place, it became a tangible way to bring the outdoors inside. Los Angeles based interior designer Faith Blakeney was quoted saying, “It’s a fantastic way to bring nature—or nature’s spirit—into a space. It feels refreshing and organic.”

It’s hard to believe that this green trend coinciding with lockdown was coincidental. In a world where many of us were afraid to leave our houses, it makes sense that we sought out a way to bring the outside indoors, and that in doing so we might create a soothing consolation in the face of our isolation.

Whether it’s pink, blue, green, or jet black, we use colour as a way to move ourselves into the emotional state we most desire. Colour is a reliable catalyst, delivering us to places and feelings that may seem impossibly far away. 

Now, at 24, I still spend hours flipping through colour swatches, googling aesthetically pleasing apartments, and wondering what feeling I want my flat to resonate in me. 

Then finally, I find myself stumbling across just the right colour in just the right shade that makes me feel exactly what I’ve been missing.