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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Choosing the Right Colors For Your Office

If you work for yourself or you work for a company that encourages and permits you to personalize your office, good for you! You’ll have more freedom as you go through this process, and ultimately, you’ll be able to create a space you love because of the latitude you’re given regarding your office décor.

Color and lighting can have a direct affect on how you feel, your mental state, and your productivity. A color you might use in your kitchen, perhaps a bright yellow, might not be the best color for your office because it could be too visually stimulating, making it difficult to focus and concentrate. When choosing paint colors and décor, begin by imagining how you want your office to feel when you enter it. You also need to consider what you do for a living when choosing a color scheme. In this section of the chapter, you learn how to experiment with a variety of color schemes to find the one that best matches your personal preferences and professional style.

Understanding the Importance of Color and Lighting

If you are an artist or you work in a creative field such as graphic design or fashion design, you might want a space that is bright, cheerful, and inspires your creativity. If you have a lot of flexibility in creating your office décor, you could also opt to go with a specific décor theme, such as Asian, French Country, or even something super modern, combining stark black, gray, and white with brightly colored accents and white metals.

On the other hand, if you work in a historically more conservative industry, such as finance, accounting, law, or medicine, where clients come into your office, you should consider using a more traditional color and décor scheme. Neutrals such as gray, tan, white, black, and navy are a good place to begin. After you’ve chosen your neutral, add a complementary second color to the scheme and a third accent color to tie it all together.

Before you commit to a color scheme in your head, go to a paint store and pick up a lot of paint chips. Choose more than you think you’ll ever need, and don’t limit yourself to a narrow range of color choices. It’s better to start with more color options than fewer; almost any color can look great if combined with the right complementary colors. So, even if you don’t really like a color family, resist the urge to leave it behind because you can always eliminate it later if you want to.

When choosing your color scheme, use your imagination. When you were a kid, your imagination was strong. You could easily dream up a fortress or city when all you had was a blanket and some couch cushions. So let’s rev up that imagination again for this important project. Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your office and it’s painted all one color, perhaps a dark green. With your eyes still closed, tune in to how being in that dark green office makes you feel. Do you feel tired? Energized? Creative? Closed in? Because colors can create very real emotions, this imagery exercise is helpful in choosing the best colors to achieve the atmosphere you want in an office setting.

Experimenting With Color Schemes

When combining colors to make a scheme, there are a few roads to travel down, and you should consider options from each type before making a decision. Your three most basic options for an overall scheme are monochromatic, analogous, and complementary. A monochromatic scheme means you are using a single color, but working with various values (lightness or darkness) of that same color to create contrast and interest. A monochromatic color scheme is very easy for the eye to look at, and offers a sophisticated, calming, elegant look. For example, a monochromatic scheme in the brown family would have the walls painted a medium taupe, a lighter taupe on the trim with accents of rich, dark taupe in the art and accessories. A monochromatic scheme in the blue family might use pale blue walls, art, and accessories with dark blue ceiling and trim.

In contrast, the analogous scheme combines three colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green. An analogous scheme is soothing to the eye like a monochromatic scheme; however, it is a bit more interesting than a monochromatic scheme because it offers more contrast and variety. One color is used as the dominant color, and the others are used in fairly even amounts to enhance and support the dominant color. An example of an analogous scheme would be three white walls with a blue accent wall, combined with art and accessories in colors of blue-green and green.

The third basic color scheme is called complementary, which means combining colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as orange and blue or green and red. A complementary scheme creates a high contrast level in the space and causes visual tension by combining cool and warm colors in the same scheme. In this type of scheme, one color should be strongly dominant, with the secondary colors being used mainly as accent colors.

Examine your paint chips in the existing room light when the sun is up and when it is down. Light changes color, so your office will look different depending on the time of day and the light source present. No matter what color scheme you choose, monochromatic, analogous, or complementary, it has to be one you feel comfortable and at ease using.

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