Q: When I go to choose a white, I get overwhelmed by all the choices. How do I pick the right one?
A: Whites do come in a staggering variety. Pure, "clean" whites are formulated without tinted undertones. These are favored by designers looking to showcase artwork or furnishings and are often used on ceilings to create a neutral field overhead. Most other whites are either warm—with yellow, rust, pink, or brownish undertones—or cool, with green, blue, or gray undertones. Mary Rice says: "Use warmer whites in rooms without a lot of natural light, or to make larger spaces seem cozier." Cool whites, by contrast, can help open up a space. Test several at once to see which one works best with the other colors at play in the room.

Q: In general, are there any colors to steer clear of?
A: When it comes to emotional effect, of course, one person's welcome-home orange will be another person's signal to scram. Debbie Zimmer, for one, declares that "red will increase your appetite—and your blood pressure; blues and greens are naturelike and calming; purple is loved by children but not necessarily by adults; yellow is inviting; and orange can be welcoming but also a little irritating, depending on the tint, tone, or shade." Research done for Behr indicates that yellow can stimulate the brain, so it might be worth considering for rooms where homework is done; but avoid yellow in bedrooms, where the goal is generally to chill out.

Q: How much does paint color really matter?
A: The psychology of color is a minor ¬≠obsession among paint professionals. Many say you should choose a color based at least in part on how a room is used and the mood you want to establish. So paint social rooms (dining rooms, kitchens, family and living ¬≠areas) warm colors like daffodil-yellow, coral, or cranberry, suggests Gillingham-Ryan, and give private rooms (home offices, powder rooms, bedrooms) cooler hues like sage-green, violet, or sky-blue. Let the mood shift from room to room, he says, to establish a visual rhythm: "Warm, cool, warm, cool—it's like breathing in and out. It's flow."
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