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SEEING COLORS: GREEN

Over the coming months, interiors journalist and author Kate Watson-Smyth will be exploring color in all its shades. What each hue means, why we react to it, how to choose the right one for the right room and when that might start to affect what happens in there. What you are about to discover may surprise you…

Ah green, the color of nature, restfulness and calm, serenity and peace, rejuvenation and harmony…

But wait a minute. How many times have you met people who say they won’t have a green car? Whose front door is any color as long as it’s not green? Who feel certain that green is the harbinger of bad luck? And what about the green-eyed monster? Or that time you felt a bit green about the gills? Remember the company junior who was green about office politics? On the other hand, we are given the green light on a project or might have a green thumb when it comes to the garden. Once again in our tour of the rainbow, we find that for every positive association of a color there is a negative one to cancel it out.

Karen Haller, a business color and branding expert, tells of a friend who, following a tough divorce, decided to paint her entire flat green. It was to be a restful haven that would bring peace and harmony back into her life.

But over time stagnant ponds turn green, warns Haller. The friend began to feel drained and tired. Her home was no longer the energizing place she had imagined. She had left the green too long and over time its negative emotions began to surface.

The only solution was to redecorate and to find the right color now that she had moved on with her life. From which we can take the good news that there’s always an excuse to refurbish.

And while green is indeed the color of fresh starts and new growth, you might not want to use too much of it. Try a sofa to create a pop of color—stick it in an office reception where clients may feel reassured that they have come to the right place—or paint the legs of desks in bright green to keep the ideas flowing among staff.

The key to getting green right is what you put with it. Sage and mint green are perfect with shades of pink—think of ice cream as a reference point. Or flowers: If it works in nature then it works indoors too. A strong green works brilliantly in a monochromatic scheme—use black and white as the base and add shades of green for energy.

But green is one color that can really change under artificial light so you need to check it in both day and electric light before you commit to a shade, otherwise what looks fresh and energizing in the day might turn blue and cold at night.

Let’s not forget that green is also the color of money. And who wouldn’t want to encourage some more of that their way? Money, growth and success are all linked to this color. Of course one of the best ways to bring it inside is by decorating with plants, which is also one of the hottest interiors trends around.

Bring plants into your reception area and encourage a feeling of positivity and growth. But don’t forget to mist them regularly to keep the leaves clean and shiny; it’s pretty obvious that dry and decaying plants will not have the intended effect. A vibrant living green will automatically make visitors feel relaxed and positive—living plants are always better than cut flowers, by the way.

Too much green can make you feel complacent though, so throw in a little red or orange to counterbalance those feelings of relaxation and stop them leading to the aforementioned stagnation.

Mind you, there was a survey recently that determined a particular shade of green was the ugliest color in the world. Opaque Couche, or Pantone 448C, is a sort of dirty olive and, said the survey, deemed so hideous that governments in the UK, France and Ireland were thinking of using it on cigarette packets to put people off smoking. It has been used in Australia since 2012. It’s not a bad color, but it’s a long way from the fresh shades of emerald that will bring positivity into your life.

Another survey, by Dulux in 2011, found that blue was the most popular color in the world (we’ll come to that next month), followed by green. They found that 23 percent of people over 50 said green was their favorite, but that dropped to 14 percent of those under 50. More recently YouGov carried out a worldwide survey of 10 countries across four continents and while blue won all over the world, green came second in the US, China and Thailand.

Finally, for those who follow trends, green is set to become the hottest color for interiors. While it will never take over from gray, interiors magazines—always a sure sign of a trend starting—are featuring this shade more and more in their photo shoots.

Try a restful forest wall with gray accessories—everything from silver to charcoal. Or jazz up a dark olive with a bright magenta or soft blush. Green has been given its own green light and it’s coming to a wall near you.

Share your shades of green with Momentum on Instagram @momentum.travel.

Photo: Shutterstock

Kate Watson-Smyth
Kate Watson-Smyth (@katewatsonsmyth)

Kate Watson-Smyth has been a journalist for over 25 years, writing for the Financial Times, Daily Mail and The Independent. She runs the UK’s No 1 interiors blog Mad about the House and her first book, Shades of Grey, is out now.

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