… and relaxed, and clever, and preferably somewhere in the tropics

How does orange make you feel?

Probably warm, comforted, calm. If you’re a serious musician, it will put you at ease and maybe even enhance your playing.

It’s one of the reasons designer Gerhard Linse chose orange and yellow for a private professional-level sound studio he created in Ottawa.

“It’s not where you’d use red,” he says. “unless you’re designing for a rock band. Black or purple if it’s a punk band. Brown for grunge.”

If you want to set a particular mood, colour is the thing that will do it, he says. But you have to know what you’re doing. There’s a psychology of colour, with a whole range of emotional cues.

You might use red in a dining room, Gerhard says, to encourage lively debate and discussion. Or you might have soft greens and cool blues in a bathroom. Gerhard recently created one in aqua to give the feeling of water, the tropics, and relaxation.

In his own house he has used a particular green because he likes the feeling it creates. He likes [Laurysen Kitchens] Caroline Castrucci’s own hot-lime green laundry room, too.

He will use colour to identify in a subtle way where you’re supposed to be. For instance, if you have a house with two doors – one a front entrance and one a mudroom entrance – Gerhard says you should paint the doors different colours – maybe a bright colour for the front door and a muted colour for the mudroom. Perhaps without consciously realizing it, you just know which door you should go to if you’ve been walking through the woods in the rain.

Choosing “white” is a big decision, he says, because there are literally hundreds of shades of white. And beige. And tan.

He suggests getting large swatches of colours from paint suppliers.

“Don’t be shy to ask for a 3”x4” colour swatch,” he says. “Or sometimes you can get a testing can. Put the colour right on the wall, and study it.”

That one colour can change with the light, with the time of day, with the season. A colour on the south side of a house will look different in a room with shade.

“The sun angles in differently in the morning than it does at noon, at twilight, and creates a different cast each time,” he explains.

Colour changes according to whether there are incandescent, halogen, or florescent lights in the room.

If you place colour on a wall and watch it for a few days, he says, you’ll know what it’s going to look like in “real time”.

If you don’t have a designer, he suggests hiring a top-notch colour consultant before going ahead with any colour changes.

“If you get someone who’s really good, it will be money well spent,” he says.

There’s not only colour to think of. There’s the quality of paint, the coverage it gives, the undertones, the durability.

“Certain reds,” says Gerhard, “require seven coats just to cover the primer properly.”

– Francie Healy