Color My World, Or At Least My Study

Every ten years or so I’m faced with a big decision. That’s about how often I move and must, out of necessity, fix up a room to work in. Which invariably means a new coat of paint. Which invariably means choosing a color for the walls.

My first study was located in the corner of a bedroom in New Orleans. The room itself was a rental apartment attached to our house, created from a carport by the previous owners. Eventually we took over the apartment and I began my writing career. The walls were dark paneling, but I was so exhilarated, I hardly noticed  After awhile my husband and I traded spaces with our older sons and I moved my study into a small bedroom which had been painted a soft yellow. The room seemed happy and lively when I sat down to work, so, of course, the next time we moved I painted my new study a lavender-gray. The emphasis being on gray. I mean, if yellow inspires creativity and boosts energy, let’s do the exact opposite just for the heck of it.

When I had a chance to move out of that gloomy space, I took it gladly, moving into an upstairs bedroom. By then I’d learned my lesson. After an enormous amount of research into color psychology, I settled on. . . yellow. Again and with great relief.

The next time we moved, I didn’t even give the matter any thought. I painted the walls yellow. Having experimented and lost, I wasn’t willing to take chances.

Then we moved to Florida a few weeks ago, and it was time for the study-color discussion once more.  The room I decided to take as my study was formerly a media room. The walls were dark cocoa brown, which was quite lovely with the built-in cherry cabinetry. But did I want to write in a dark brown room?  Would you?

So the quest for a new color began. This study isn’t tucked away. It’s right off the lanai and the kitchen.  More important it looks over the waterway behind our house. I was afraid that yellow, even a soft yellow, would fight with the scenery and the cabinets. So I took another gamble. As of today the walls are now Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams, a pale blue-green-gray. I’ve seen Sea Salt or its comrades on other walls in other houses. The color changes with the light, and it’s difficult to describe. What I know for sure is that the room now seems three times larger, and the blue-green rug that graced our Virginia dining room looks happily at home on the bamboo floors, adding a richness to the color of the walls. The view beyond the walls seems to pop, which couldn’t make me happier.

Will a blue/green/gray room stimulate creativity? My thimble full of research this evening (conducted after the paint dried) says that blue brings down the heart rate and blood pressure, and green is the most restful color in the spectrum. Does this mean I’ll write quieter books?

I do know this. I’m happy with my choice, but I couldn’t let go of yellow entirely. My sewing room, formerly cocoa-brown, as well,  is now yellow.   A lovely, happy yellow that will, I hope, inspire happy quilts. And if I feel my energy flagging in my quiet blue room, I can always visit my sewing room for a quick pep-me-up.

What colors inspire you? What colors give you energy? Do you like to take chances, or do you stick with what works?  What was the last paint color you chose and why?  I hope you’ll tell us.


  1. Holly Senecal on November 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I love your choice of color Emily…perfect for the room I’d say. In our living room my eternally “lets paint it off white” dear husband let me pick whatever color I chose.
    I fell in love with this rich warm cranberry color, although it was a hard sell! He thought it would look like a cave 🙂 However when it was done the living room looks cozy without being claustrophobic and we spend a lot of time in there in front of the woodstove in the winter ….

    • Emilie Richards on November 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

      That sounds charming. And a great place to enjoy winter.

  2. Becky on November 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Since I rent and our walls were wallpapered and painted before we moved in… the colors were chosen, but we have greens, browns, and creams in our wallpaper which I love for a soothing room.

    My favorite colors for paint tend to be warmer shades creams, browns, etc.

    In life I love nothing more than sunny yellow and baby blue like the sky there is nothing more soothing to the soul then the clear blue sky.

  3. Kathleen O on November 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I love colours like purple, peach, greens, lilacs, mauve, tourqouis and deep blues, sky blues. All of these colours inspire me..

  4. Nancy Badertscher on November 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

    My quilting room is also yellow – I chose it to paint over the dark blue that was in what was previously a boys’ room. Bedroom, bath and dining room are medium blue, very restful I think. Hope you will post a picture or two of the new room.

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