August 30, 2010

bedroom, color theory

In a recent interview, I was asked why I chose to pursue a career in interior design. Simply put, I gain joy from creating an atmosphere that supports way the client wants to feel. 

Case in point, during a client consultation I asked a couple what kind of “mood” they wanted for their master bedroom. I threw out a few suggestions like restful, serene, relaxing just to encourage their thoughts. The husband’s immediate response was “SEXUAL” (insert raised eyebrows here). The wife’s answer made mention of a “love nest” or something. With all the eye exchange, I knew I needed to wrap things up before they tore into each other. But before I made my escape, I asked more specific questions about their color preferences. They both said they were open to any color just as long as it felt warm.

The psychology of interior design is intriguing because it engages all of our five senses and it has a way of affecting our moods without our awareness or permission.

But back to the client couple…In your opinion, what is a “sexual” paint color? What is sexy to me would probably be relaxing to someone else. What color is your bedroom?

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About Erika Ward

Multi-passionate entrepreneur, spokesperson, speaker, and philanthropist, Erika Hollinshead Ward worked in the design-build industry as an accountant before turning her passion for interior design into a successful business. Named by Atlanta Tribune as having one of the top design firms for two consecutive years, Erika is a highly sought after expert whose work has appeared in several media outlets such as House Beautiful Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, Fox 5 (Atlanta Affiliate), Huffington Post, HGTV.com and many others. Her influential voice in the home improvement sector has lead to marketing collaborations with leading home and lifestyle brands including Home Depot, S.C. Johnson, and Home Decorators Collection. Erika holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia and resides in Atlanta with her husband and five children. With her sharp business acumen and design prowess, you can rest assured that she is one to watch as a voice for working mothers, women entrepreneurs, and interior design enthusiasts.

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  1. Kim@Chattafabulous Says:

    My bedroom is painted Ben Moore's Sweet Dreams, a light tiffany blue. For your clients I would be inclined to explorer a dark and moody color. Say dark chocolate or eggplant or navy. Good luck with this one – let us know what you come up with!


  2. ampersand-design.blogspot.com Says:

    I agree a dark moody hue should be lovely – I'm inclined to go with a midnight blue. Having said that, it doesn't really invoke 'warmth'. To me, 'sexy' is about mystery and 'warmth' is about comfort. Depends what the client is really after. I think dark hues lend a richness and mysteriousness to a room.
    I'd love to see something dark with accessories that have lustre and sheen to them without being too 'bling'.

    Sandy K

    BTW. My room is a greige colour, bordering more towards beige than grey though. Not my choice.


  3. Janell @ Isabella and Max Says:

    Interesting interview! I think dark rooms feel more dramatic and moody…sensual as well. I can't wait to see what you do for this room! Janell


  4. Heather Says:

    my room is benjamin moore, pale oak…it's perfect for my tastes, but I love dark walls….especially in a bedroom…graphite by BM is in my den and it's so snugggllllyyy..


  5. L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys Says:

    DARK! As you know, my bedroom is a deep chocolate brown. LOVE!!! Dark colors just scream romance to me especially when used with the right lighting!


  6. kat Says:

    Love your blog! Just finished the archives recently and have loved everything since then, too:)
    I agree with everyone on the dark colors being "sexier" (especially eggplant or that deep emerald in the first picture,) but i think a lighter palette with really luxurious textures can be very sensual, as well. Or a 1 clean neutral, like a cool gray, with pops of warm jewel tones.


  7. Mrs. Chic Says:

    Such a good question, our bedroom is has tones of grey. Which I love and having our lighting on a dimmer really creates the mood…


  8. alison (semi-fab lane) Says:

    dark is sexy to me… dark grey, dark dark blue, or maybe a shade of plum?


  9. teebarnes Says:

    Our space is small and a rental so for the bedroom we went with BM Camouflage and Dry Sage(accent wall),neutral and airy but yet warm. When I was single and living in Miami, I had a hot red bedroom….that was SEXY!


  10. niki.mac Says:

    My bedroom is currently builders grade beige – and I hate it! In a previous bedroom I had chocolate brown & the room was fairly small. It made the room feel soo cozy and inviting. I loved it!


  11. luxe + lillies Says:

    hehe! your story totally made me giggle (childish i know!) but, I can just imagine sitting there and watching/listening to this all unfold!
    Anyway… the question at hand really is a great one, and the more I look at the pictures above, the more I am convinced that it has a lot to do with the couple's personality. I love all of these rooms for different reasons. In my own bedroom I went with something relaxing, yet masculine, so that he could also feel like it was a place he wanted to come home to. Think beige, black, grey, white and mercury glass-like silver with some black fur accents. I love it… but I could also love something deep and dark!


  12. Jenna @ Mi Vida Bonita Says:

    Interesting client meeting for sure! OMG. I think it's a personal opinion on what they find to be "sexual" or calming etc. Blue is a calming color, but for me {wanting calming in my bedroom} I would not choose blue.

    My bedroom is BM classic gray, and the wall behind my bed is a dark charcoal -intellectual by Behr. LOVE It. This color is so pretty and dark….sexy maybe if you will. 😉 Good luck with them. You will have to let us know the "sexual" choice color for the bedroom! :)


  13. Fran Says:

    Great post! When I think of sexy, I think of jewel tones (similar to the first picture in your post). My bedroom is MS cake stand (a baby blue) but not too 'baby'. It is very colorful and happy!!


  14. Fran Says:

    I just spent like 20 mins browsing your blog – love it! How come I haven't found you before? I plan on following!!


  15. Redesign Diva Says:

    Sensual and sexy are two different things to me as one leads to the other…(insert some 40 year old knowledge here…lol)My room is a deep chocolate brown infused with yellows which makes it cozy, however if i were to get a man…ahem…I would paint it a nice purple with a yellow hue if I wanted to make it feel sensual and warm.

    Looking back at your rooms and colors, I have to go with purple-lavender type, room with some deep colored accent furniture. And the room up top, with the curtain wall behind the bed implies sensuality..I love it!


  16. Bedroom Furniture Gal Says:

    WOW, talk about an awkward moment, lol! Glad you where able to get out of it quickly. I agree with you, that question is very subjective. My room's paint color is beige (just moved in) but my accent colors are black, white and red. It all depends on the couple, maybe you can get inspirational ideas from something that they think is sexy – an ad, another of your designs, photos like the ones above. I think that red is naturally sexy, also like purple, and burgundy. Hope this helps 😉


  17. Joi Says:

    That first bedroom took my breath away! I never knew I liked green in that kind of setting!


  18. Elise Lowerison Says:

    Wow, that is funny, and a stereotypical response. I think the first room in this post is very warm and inviting, but still has that sensual feel because it is a darker shade of green with touches of black. I like the color palette in this room because I feel like I could sleep in this room as well as have a romantic experience. What window coverings would go best with such a hue? I came across your post this afternoon while browsing interior design blogs and the topic of window treatment selection was very interesting to me. It is true that you must dress your windows appropriately to bring out their true beauty. Thank you for writing and as a special thanks to you and your readers, I would like to offer a 20% off coupon using this code upon checkout: BLG20.


  19. theLENNOXX Says:

    Such an interesting question! I have never thought about what color is sexual, but I guess it would be a rich, warm color. I do think the first and last pic you picked are sexual, the middle one is more serene and relaxing to me. I'll definitely be on the lookout for sexual color from now on, I'll let you know when I find one 😉

    xo Linda


  20. Jean Molesworth Kee Says:

    Great post, Erica! Color (as you know) is so emotional. I try to encourage clients to consider darker, more saturated colors for the MBR if they are spending time there in the evenings (reading, TV, whatever). With lamplight those colors can become very enveloping and sensual.

    As for my own MBR? I actually considered the daytime view (lots of windows + natural light) so went with a soft mid-tone neutral khaki color– C2Paint Bristle with soft white trim and ceilings.


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