8 Ways That Color Can Make Your Home a Happier Place

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iStock

Do you feel happy when you think back to your childhood bedroom? Does contemplating your favorite restaurant make you hungry? Chances are good that the color schemes of your favorite places are at least partially responsible for how you feel about them.

Color psychology is the study of how color can influence and guide human emotions. Color might seem to be only a matter of taste, but there is some scientific evidence to suggest that the purposeful use of color can also affect your mood (though specific health benefits have not been established). A soothing environment can contribute to stress reduction and an increased feeling of wellbeing; health care providers use color psychology to offer a calming and relaxing environment for their patients [PDF].

If there's a particular hue that makes you smile, take up a paintbrush and go wild—painting a room is one of the easiest ways to redecorate. "I suggest choosing a color that makes you feel happy and at home. After all, that's what is really important when designing a home," says Allie Wilmoth, a residential interior designer in Wake Forest, North Carolina, who specializes in color selection.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. ORANGE ADDS WARMTH AND EXCITEMENT TO YOUR COOKING.

Bored with your meal prep? Make dining in more interesting by giving your kitchen a coat of orange paint. Orange is a warm, energetic color that stimulates the appetite (just think of how many fast-food restaurant logos incorporate oranges, reds, and yellows). This tone can give you an energy boost and inspire creativity and conversation.

"The color orange is the most social of all colors. It stimulates conversation, communication, and interaction. It reflects youth and energy and is a great choice for anywhere you want lots of action, activity, and high energy," Jane Lockhart, a Toronto-area interior designer and host of the TV series Colour Confidential, tells Mental Floss. "Orange is a great choice for a gym, family room, kitchen, or as an accent wall in a child’s bedroom."

2. GREEN MEANS SWEET DREAMS.

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to let go of the day’s stress, try using color to help you sleep more peacefully. "Light shades of green are the most restful, calming colors in the spectrum," Lockhart says. "Green is associated with earth, new growth, and new beginnings. It is a color full of life, inspiration, peace, and good health."

Green is also a great color for anyone who longs for the great outdoors. "If a city apartment dweller is looking for a natural feel within their space, I highly recommend a cool color scheme," Wilmoth tells Mental Floss. "Utilizing green and blue and coordinating a gray neutral color will help the small space feel larger, and an analogous color scheme of blues and greens creates a harmonious natural feel."

3. RED BRINGS EXCITEMENT WHEREVER IT GOES.

Red conjures up images of fire, movement, and excitement. Use red to liven up any space in your house and invite interaction—it's a warm and vibrant color can stimulate passion, whether it’s conversation in the living room or amorous activities. "Red is a great color to use for a kitchen, dining room, or bedroom," Lockhart says. But red can be a little overpowering (and possibly raise your blood pressure!), so you might want to limit it to a single wall or a piece of accent furniture, especially in a smaller room.

4. BLUE MOTIVATES AND STIMULATES (BUT IT ALSO CALMS AND SOOTHES).

Blue does it all. "Blue has been linked with productivity, honesty, and authority," Lockhart says. "It’s great for offices because of its motivating attributes. Blue helps stimulate the energy you need to get the work done." Blue can make you feel calm, centered, and content wherever you use it, which makes it a great color for the bedroom as well as the home office. "Cooler blues and greens evoke feelings of quiet and solitude, making it one of my go-to choices in bedrooms," Wilmoth says.

5. NEED YOUR SPACE? TRY WHITE.

If a bigger place isn’t in your budget, white can give the illusion of space and height. It can also create an open, airy feeling in your entryway or hall. If a bright white tone feels too contemporary or sterile to you, try a pale gray or cream. "Using one color, wrapped around the whole room, will help the viewer's eye travel throughout the space," Lockhart says.

6. PURPLE BRINGS CREATIVITY AND DRAMA.

Violet inspires the creative, mysterious and sensual. Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, has been named the color of 2018 by Pantone Color Institute, the global authority on color. This particular shade of violet "takes our awareness and potential to a higher level," according to the Pantone website.

If painting your bedroom or office purple seems a bit much, try painting an accent wall to add a new shade of creative inspiration to your environment. "Even just one wall would add uniqueness and a bold statement of individuality," Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, tells Mental Floss.

7. PERK UP YOUR MORNINGS WITH PINK.

Pink is fun and energetic. "Rose tones are always good in a bathroom or bedroom, because they add a healthy glow to the skin," Eiseman says. Paint your bathroom a playful shade of pink to give yourself a boost of happiness in the morning before starting your workday. If the idea of a pink bathroom leaves you cold, try a sunshiny yellow for the same warm and uplifting effect.

8. YELLOW BRINGS SUNLIGHT INDOORS.

Like blue, yellow works in many parts of the home, especially in rooms that lack natural light. This joyous tone might even increase your home's appeal to buyers. "Yellow, or any other warm-based color like coral, is fabulous—it's considered a happy and uplifting color," Eiseman says. "It is especially good in rooms that are dark or don't get a lot of light. Kitchens, entryways, and living rooms are good in these tones. They are convivial, friendly and make you feel like you are surrounded by sunshine—they're a great mood lifter."

Simply put, a gallon or two of paint can transform a room—and your attitude—for the better.

How to Turn an Old Wicker Basket Into a DIY Cat Bed

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iStock.com/Kurgu128

From cat trees to stackable boxes, there are plenty of products out there for cat parents looking to spoil their pets. But you don't need to buy brand-name accessories to make your kitty feel comfortable in your home. If you have an old wicker basket, you can make a DIY cat bed that doubles as an accent piece.

For this craft project from Martha Stewart, get together a drill, two .25-inch screws, two fender washers, and a round basket. Align your basket where you want it displayed, with the flat bottom against the wall, and mount it by drilling the screws in their washers through the wicker. Add a soft blanket to make the nook an inviting spot for your pet.

Cats like to climb things: Being up high is a way for them to feel safe and expand their territory indoors. If you're not thrilled by the idea of your cat scaling the human furniture in your home, building an elevated cat bed just for them is a way to keep everyone happy.

This project isn't just for cat owners: The mounted basket can be used as a place to store throw blankets, towels, and even stuffed animals. And if you ever do decide to bring a cat into your home, there will be a spot waiting for them.

[h/t Martha Stewart]

10 Essential Items Every Bar Cart Needs

Antonis Achilleos
Antonis Achilleos

The 1950s style was all about fun—and some of that whimsy is reemerging in 21st-century homes. Witness the glorious resurgence of a '50s home staple: the bar cart. This retro piece of furniture pulls double-duty: If styled well, it not only serves as the focal point of a room, but come party time it takes center stage again as a functional, fashionable platform for crafting your guests' favorite cocktails.

There are countless styles of bar carts, as well as products to put on them. But what exactly do you need to get your cart up and running? A bottle opener and some booze are de rigueur. But beyond that? We turned to two experts: Vanessa Dina, author of The Art of the Bar Cart: Styling & Recipes (Chronicle Books); and Brooklyn-based bartender extraordinaire Ivy Mix, who routinely shows up on lists of the country’s top mixologists. Here are their suggestions for can’t-miss bar cart items.

1. Five Basic Spirits

The Art of the Bar Cart cover
Chronicle Books

This may sound obvious, but Mix—who designed and built her own modular red and orange bar cart so she could have a place for all of her tools—notes that there are five types of liquor that should always be on your cart: a vodka, a gin, a bourbon or rye whiskey, a rum, and a tequila. “They’re the standards,” Mix says.

2. Mixers

Negroni cocktail with an orange twist
iStock/bhofack2

Once you have your array of five essential spirits, you’ll need modifiers or mixers to create the drinks. “The ones that go the quickest in my house are my sweet vermouth, my Campari, and my Cointreau," Mix says. "I make martinis, margaritas, and Manhattans, so they’re really important. Having them right there makes it easy: A little bit of this, a little bit of Campari, and voilà—you have a Negroni. In fact, Campari is the most useful thing to make a tasty drink when other stuff is not around.”

3. Bitters

These flavorful, alcoholic extracts have taken the cocktail world by storm in recent years: Foodies craft them at home, bars highlight them on the menu, and multiple new brands and flavors are popping up everywhere. They’re also perfect for your home bar cart, Dina tells Mental Floss: “It’s an easy way to create a lot of variation in your drinks. They add spices, herbs, and other flavorful notes to a drink. But best of all, unlike liquor, bitters take up minimal space on a cart. I suggest a cubby to keep your collection organized.”

You can start with the classics—like Angostura and Peychaud's—or dive into flavors like smoked chili, cardamom, or chocolate.

4. Mason Jars

The internet abounds with recipes and ideas for adding a fun touch to your next shindig by serving cocktails in individual mason jars. But Mix sees the jars as an essential and versatile tool that can do the work of either a shaker or a mixing glass. “You can really do anything in a mason jar,” Mix says. “You can stir a drink in a mason jar and know that it’s going to be OK.”

5. Small Hand Juicer

“A lot of people don’t think this is important, but one thing I recommend to everyone is fresh juice,” Mix says. She notes that people frequently use a lime juice blend from the grocery store when making margaritas. “Most of the time it’s not actually lime juice, but this gross God-knows-what. Even if it is lime juice, [the manufacturer] had to pasteurize it or cook it in some way; it’s not right. But if you get one of those little hand juicers, you can squeeze a cup of lime juice in a couple of minutes. It’s a complete game changer.”

6. Citrus Peeler

When guests leave your next party, you want them to remember that the cocktails tasted fantastic—and looked even better. “That’s where garnishes come in,” Dina says. “Something as simple as an orange twist provides visual appeal as well as aromatics.” Lemon, lime, and grapefruit rinds created with a citrus peeler can also transform a simple drink into a professional-style cocktail.

7. Shaker With a Built-In Strainer

Cocktail newbies may not realize there are multiple varieties of strainers. A Hawthorne strainer is best for shaken cocktails; its flat profile and coil of wire that hugs the inside rim of the mixing glass keep chunks of ice, fruit, and herbs from slipping into the serving glass. Cobbler shakers come with a mixing vessel, strainer, and fitted top all built in; using one means that you won’t need to worry about misplacing your strainer. “They have a classic look that many people want,” Dina says. “In addition, it helps you pour and makes everything a little easier.”

8. Ice Container and Tongs

“Ice is an essential, and sometimes overlooked, player in cocktails,” Dina says. “Drinks would not be as tasty or inviting without the chill that ice provides, whether it’s large, small, hand cut, crystal clear, cubed, or crushed.” Ice buckets or containers not only keep your ice cool, but usually serve as a decorative accent as well. “If you have a theme for your bar cart, you can get an ice bucket to match,” Dina says. “I’ve seen a lot of them in rose gold recently.” Dina shares a tip: Buy some extra ice tongs so your guests can freshen up their own drinks.

9. Versatile, Attractive Glassware

From cordials to highballs to beer and wine, most drinks are supposed to be served in their very own style of glass. But not everyone has enough room on their home bar for multiple styles, so they have to pick and choose. “Short glasses are the most versatile,” says Dina. “You can serve everything from wine to a mixed drink in them and they take up less space. Also, it’s easier to find cute designs and styles at flea markets and home stores in the shorter versions.” Dina has cordial glasses displayed on her two-level home bar cart. Mix collects antique cocktail glasses; in addition, her father is a glassblower. “He uses his own colors so he can make beautiful, colorful glasses,” Mix says. “Having a really nice glass brings it the extra mile.”

10. Your Own Personality

Keep in mind that your friends are in your home—and not a bar—so parties are a chance to share a bit of yourself. Dina suggests that small frames with pictures of family, a piece of artwork that you picked up on a trip, or even foraged items like attractive branches can personalize your bar cart. She also recommends plants; her favorite are air plants. “A touch of nature freshens things up,” she says. “They are visually pleasing and make the whole area seem homier.”

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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