8 Ways That Color Can Make Your Home a Happier Place

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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.

Thrift Stores Are Seeing a Surge in Donations, Thanks to Netflix's Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

Denise Crew, Netflix
Denise Crew, Netflix

If you've recently been asking yourself “Does this spark joy?” about the many items in your home, you've probably been bitten by the Marie Kondo bug. You're not alone. The organizing consultant’s Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, has become a major hit for the streaming network—and has left viewers feeling the sudden urge to clean out their closets. As a result, thrift stores are feeling the "Kondo Effect," too.

As People reports, Goodwill Stores have been inundated with clothes, furniture, and other pre-loved items ever since Kondo’s Netflix series premiered on January 1. In the show, Kondo teaches families how to tidy up their houses and organize their belongings by category, including clothes, books, papers, sentimental items, and komono (miscellaneous things).

“We know that a number of our community-based Goodwill organizations have seen a year-over-year spike in donations in January that they attribute to Marie Kondo’s show,” Lauren Lawson-Zilai, a Goodwill representative, told People.

The spike is hard to quantify because Goodwill’s stores are run by 161 independent organizations across the country. However, a number of individual branches have reported that donations are way up. Branches in Houston, Washington, D.C.; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Roanoke, Virginia all saw surges of between 16 and 30 percent in January.

That might not seem like a significant amount, but a 3 percent increase in donations to Tampa Bay area stores translated to an extra 5 million pounds of donations being processed in a single month. Other factors may also be responsible for the uptick in donations—like warmer weather in some areas, or New Year’s resolutions—but the Kondo craze is still driving much of the decluttering.

Other nonprofit organizations and thrift stores have also seen an increase in donated goods, including some Salvation Army outlets and stores operated by Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana.

“The Tidying Up craze has struck a chord with people of all ages,'' Debbie Gillum of Volunteers of America told Cleveland.com. "People are starting to ask themselves what in their homes sparks joy and they are donating things that no longer bring them joy. The best part is when they donate their stuff, it can bring joy to someone else.”

[h/t People]

How British Spies Used a Cupcake Recipe to Stop Terrorists

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iStock.com/400tmax

In 2011, Arabian Peninsula-based Al-Qaeda members published a 67-page English-language magazine called Inspire in an attempt to recruit new terrorists. Instead, they might have inspired a new generation of bakers.

In the United States and United Kingdom, intelligence agencies knew the magazine was being launched well in advance. The also knew the magazine would be digital-only and could be downloaded as a PDF by anybody with an internet connection. For months, the U.S. Cyber Command planned on attacking the publication's release, crippling it with a hail of computer viruses. "The packaging of this magazine may be slick," one counterterrorism official said, "but the contents are as vile as the authors."

Their plans, however, were blocked by the CIA, which asserted that targeting the magazine "would expose sources and methods and disrupt an important source of intelligence," according to The Telegraph. So as progress halted in the U.S., British agents cooked up their own plans.

It involved treats.

At the time of the magazine's launch, the UK Government Communications Headquarters and the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, successfully hacked the computers distributing the mag and tinkered with the text. They removed articles about Osama bin Laden and deleted a story called "What to expect in Jihad." Elsewhere, they destroyed the text by inserting garbled computer code.

One sabotaged story was an article by "The AQ Chef" called "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom," which explained how to make a pipe bomb with simple ingredients that included sugar. The new code, however, contained a sweet recipe of a different kind.

Instead of the bomb-making instructions, the article contained code leading to an article called "The Best Cupcakes in America," hosted by the Ellen DeGeneres Show website [PDF]. The page featured recipes for "sweet-toothed hipsters" and instructions for mojito-flavored cupcakes "made of white rum cake and draped in vanilla buttercream" (plus Rocky Road and Caramel Apple varieties!).

Two weeks later, the magazine's editors found the errors and fixed the edition—but, presumably, not until some bad guys discovered that "the little cupcake is big again."

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