Characteristics of Green
Green is a chameleon color. Because it’s made by combining yellow and blue, it can take on the benefits or characteristics of each of those colors depending on whether you add a little more yellow or a little more blue (creating an undertone). As you look outside and see the many shades of green, you can see that it’s equally at home against the warm colors of yellows and reds as it is working with cooler colors of blue and purple. Green with a blue undertone (celadon, mint, apple) will cool down warmer colors just as green with a yellow undertone (sage, olive, moss) can warm up a predominantly cool room.
Think of shades of green as following the seasons: spring green – bright and fresh as new growth; summer green – grass and trees and gardens in full swing; autumn green – the deeper tones of moss and forest green; winter – the bleached out, toned down quiet of grey greens.
I often use green as a neutral – it can be used in large expanses (walls or sofas) and still work well with any accent color. Another great characteristic of green is that it works beautifully with all wood tones. Sometimes reds or oranges might fight with certain wood tones, but you’ll never encounter that with green – so go ahead and mix with pleasure. It’s rare that some shade of green is not an “in” color – currently moss green (a warm, darker yellowy green) is one that has stood the test of time and is once again moving to the forefront. On the blue-green side, teal is making a reappearance but in softer shades than the overdone looks of the 80′s.
(photo sources clockwise from top left: Vegetal chair, ConranUSA.com $555; Fresco pillow, Z Gallerie $40; canvas art, Overstock.com, Caroline Ashton; Edie chaise, Urban Outfitters $550; tile, StudioArt.com; Napoleone chest, ConranUSA.com $5650; capiz collection, surf green, Z Gallerie $5-30; Emmett chair, Room & Board, $400; Antonio chair in LaTropicana, Norwalk Furniture; Thomas Paul pillows, CottageAndBungalow.com; Peyton linen drapes, Pottery Barn on sale)
The Moods of Green
Green is considered passive, quiet, restful, and sometimes so calm as to be boring. If you love the outdoors and really want to emphasize the feelings you get from being outdoors, bring in greens. Representing the outdoors, green might make you feel energized and rejuvenated, ready to tackle a project. Or do you draw a feeling of serenity and nourishment from looking at the green of rolling hills? Bring that lovely green into your home and reinforce those feelings.
On the negative side, green can sometimes tilt to a somber, dull tone. If you live in a rainy, gray climate, avoid the deeper grayed greens of olive and dark avocado as they will reinforce the gray weather.
The Best Place for Green
Historically, muted natural greens have been used for centuries in fabrics and elegant drawing rooms. Only with the discovery of the chrome yellow pigment in the late 1700′s did brighter, more vivid greens start showing up in fashion and in homes. The more muted, greyed greens (olive, sage, moss) have typically been used in kitchens, bedrooms and living areas because of their calming qualities. Darker greens like forest green or bottle green are perceived as more masculine and would be great in a den or library or a more formal space in the home. The darker greens would also work well in corporate or business environments.
Lime, chartreuse, apple or any of those brighter, livelier greens will work well in contemporary spaces or when decorating for a trendy, youthful look.
Colors to Use With Green
Sage and celadon are both very livable shades of green – slightly greyed so they aren’t bright, bold colors. The hint of green in those shades gives color to even the most timid color-phobes and allows any accent color to shine. And truly any color will work with them from the boldest reds or oranges to the softest blues or purples.
Currently popular shades of green are the vivid, high-intensity colors of lime, chartreuse and acid green – high concentrations of yellow make them very strong colors to enliven even the most dull room. They work very well as accent colors and will add a spark of energy and youth to a room. Use small doses of lime green in an otherwise quietly colored room for a little zest. Use these vivid greens with pink or fuchsia for a playful, vibrant girl’s room. Pair lime with browns, tans and golds to add a spark of life.
Green and red are often considered a classic combo but to keep it from looking too Christmasy, keep the tones similar in intensity. Try a deep bottle green (a little blue undertone) with crimson (a little blue undertone). Try olive with terra cotta; sage with a rosy pink. If you’re looking for something deep and rich why not consider navy with a dark forest green? Lime and turquoise – now there’s a tropical combo not for the faint hearted.
Before choosing the green for your rooms, consider what you see through your windows. Do you look out on a lush garden and yard? Use a soft, quiet green so the outdoor greens will contrast. If you look out to a desert landscape of tans, browns, golds like I do, choose richer, bolder greens to enhance your window view.
Feng Shui – Earth Element
As one of the earth element colors, the muted shades of green are very grounding and can provide a sense of safety and stability. The most natural of colors, green also represents growth, harmony and peace. It is stress relieving, can calm frayed nerves and balance emotions. Green is refreshing and rejuvenating to the spirit and add the natural greens of plants to a space, you will maximize its benefits.
Want to Catch Up?
This ongoing series has already covered basic color terminology as well as in depth explorations of Red, Blue and Yellow in earlier postings. If you have an interest in learning more about those colors, click through on the links. The series will continue through February – next week focusing on some of the secondary colors like orange, turquoise, pink, etc. followed by black, white and gray and finishing the colors with neutrals of tan, beige and brown. The wrap up article will help put it all in perspective and give you some designer tips on refining a color scheme.
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