Red & Blue States (of mind)

When it comes to color, we all have our likes and dislikes. I, for one, am certain there is a purpose for mauve, I just haven’t figured out what it is. And we are all, appropriately, aware that the colors around us affect our mood.   There is some interesting new research on exactly how the colors red and blue affect us.

Science magazine just published a study of 600 people to determine whether performance varied when people saw red or blue. The subjects were given computer tasks to do when the screen backgrounds were red, blue or neutral. Folks seeing red did better on tests that demanded attention to detail, like recall or spelling or punctuation. Those looking at blue screens did better at creative tasks like creating toys from shapes or inventing creative uses for a brick.

The study was conducted by the business school at the University of British Columbia. Juliet Zhu, an assistant professor who worked on the study said, “If you’re talking about wanting enhanced memory for something like proofreading skills, then a red color should be used. “ But for “a brainstorming session for a new product or coming up with a new solution…then you should get people into a blue room.”

Anthropologists from Durham University in England found that in the 2004 Olympic games, when evenly matched athletes competed, those wearing red won over those wearing blue 60% of the time. In a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, men considered women in photographs with red backgrounds or wearing red shirts to be more attractive than women with other colors (although not more likeable or intelligent).

In 2006, the Architectural Digest Home Design Show set up cocktail parties in three rooms of different colors (but with identical furnishings). The major paint companies (Pantone, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and DuPont) submitted colors they considered appropriate for entertainment, dining or relaxation and a red, yellow and blue common to each was chosen for each room. The results? More people chose the yellow and red rooms but those in the blue room stayed longer (and moved around less). Red and yellow guests were more active and social and although red guests reported feeling thirstier and hungrier, it was the yellow guests that ate twice as much. The blue guests ringed the perimeter while the red and yellow guests clustered in the middle.

It may be that we unconsciously perceive red as a symbol of danger and become more cautious. In a study at the University of Michigan, students taking IQ tests with red covers didn’t score as highly as those with green or neutral colors. Given a choice of questions, students with red covers chose easier questions.

The matching of red with danger and blue with calm plays out in advertising. Research shows there’s more appeal when product details or avoidance activities (cavity prevention) have a red background and positive actions (tooth whitening) have a blue background.

So why mention this? First, I’m always fascinated with whether scientific research backs up (or denies) what we think is true. Secondly, the more we know about how the things around us affect us, the more we can choose whether to be affected by them (Just how did that advertising manipulative us?). Lastly, and most importantly, I contend that our homes are where we are most ourselves and we should decorate them to make ourselves most comfortable but an important part of that is making those who visit us more comfortable too. Maybe it is also important to pick our colors with consideration to the task and what we are going to do in the room. Even so, I’m not painting my home office red.

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The Color Wheel

Except for political extremists, most of us don’t live in a black and white world.  But, given more than a rainbow of hues to choose from, how can we pick compatible colors for our home?  That’s what we’re talking about today.

Contemporary color theory was developed by the Swiss artist and designer Johannes Itten while he was teaching at the School of Applied Arts in Weimar, Germany.  In his seminal book, The Art of Color, he wrote, “Color is life, for a world without color seems dead. As a flame produces light, light produces color. As intonation lends color to the spoken word, color lends spiritually realized sound to form.”   Itten took the primary (red, yellow, blue) and secondary (green, yellow and orange) colors and laid them out by how we feel about the colors as a way to find harmony. The image included in this post is a great example.

Colors in harmony create a sense of balance and order.  The idea is to reject either an extreme where everything is so bland as to not even be noticed, or the extreme where everything is competing with each other so if feels like noise.

It’s really pretty simple to do.  There’s at least six ways to use the color wheel, but we’re only going to talk about five of them. Hey, this column has a 600 word limit.

The first is monochromatic.  These color schemes use variations in the hue and saturation of a single color (pale green, light green, green, dark green for example).  Usually, one of these will predominate. Think of the variegation in a plant leaf.  There may be cream colors, deep blue-greens and light greens, but the colors are all next to each other on the color wheel and usually there’s more of one than the others.  This scheme is easy to manage but it lacks the vibrancy of combining different colors.  If you like to keep it simple, a better choice is…

Analogous color schemes using several colors which are next to each other on the color wheel.  For instance, yellow, brown and orange are analogous colors.  Usually, one color will predominate in the scheme and the other used as accents.  It is as easy to manage as the monochromatic scheme but looks a little richer.  It still lacks some of the excitement of contrasting colors, so you may want…

Complementary colors, which are two colors that lie opposite each other on the wheel.  For instance, green and red.  I’m sure you’ve noticed how striking a red flower on a green plant can look.  Think of roses.  Basically, you’re contrasting cool and warm colors and you can desaturate, or lighten, your cool colors to make the warm colors stand out.  For instance, a bright red with a pale green will be more pleasing than a pale red with a bright green.  You can balance three different colors by laying a triangle over the color wheel.  Of course, there’s a name for this, it’s …

Triadic colors, which can bring lots of different color into a room.  Three colors won’t have the contrast of two and it’s usually a good idea to lighten one or more of these three to prevent the room from looking too gaudy.  My favorite, however is…

A split complementary color scheme that picks one color from one side of the wheel and two colors lying next to each other on the other side.  As an example, reds with blue and teal or orange and blue and violet.  It’s usually best to choose one warm color and two cooler colors.  The advantage to this type of scheme is that it combines the idea of contrast and analogous colors into a single set.

You can find more information online at or stop by my store and we’ll play around with different combinations.

Exotic Woods

Trees are wonderful things.  Their shade is a comfort to the young and old, their age venerable, their structure striking, their physiology amazing…and we can make cool stuff out of them.  And there’re a lot of different kinds of them.

With the massive numbers of imported furniture, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to answer the question, “What kind of wood is that?”  Here’s a little pedantic litany of some of the more unusual hardwoods that are used to make furniture.


Australian Blackwood is one of several hundred species in the Acacia genus.  Most of it comes from southern Australia, and Tasmania is an important source.  It’s golden to chocolate brown with darker markings, saws easily and because it bends well, is often steamed and shaped.

Silky-oak (Cardwelia sublimis) has the beauty of oak grain, particularly when quartersawn, and so is often used as a substitute for oak, although it isn’t quite as durable.

Black Bean (Castanospermum australe) from Queensland, is a small tree but the wood is highly decorative with dense, clear grain.


Sen, or Acanthopanax ricinfolius, is also grown in China and Korea and is easily mistaken for ash.  It grows logs up to 3’ across and is frequently used for veneers and plywood.


Afzelia, sometimes called apa, grows in much of the southern continent.  It looks a lot like mahogany with a coarse texture.  It is 10-15% denser than oak.

Aningeria was introduced in the 1960’s as Tanzanian walnut and it has a fine and even texture.

Gaboon (Aucoumea klaineana) from Gabon is pale-pink, about the weight of spruce and is used mostly as veneers and in the plywood industry.

Rhodesian Teak (Baikiaea plurijuga), like other teaks, is dense, durable, resistant to molds and mildew and frequently used to make furniture for outdoors.

South America:

Brazilwood (Caesalpinia echinata) from the costal forests of Brazil, reddens like cherry when exposed to the air and is commonly used in violin bows because of its weight, flexibility and strength.

Pacific tropics:

Cordia grows in many countries, looks a lot like teak and is only slightly less dense.  The texture is coarse but and its light in weight.

Kapur is strong and stable and although plain in appearance also looks much like teak.

Jelutong (Dyera costulata) is almost as straw colored as yellow pine and is sometimes used as a replacement for pine in toys and models.

West Indian Satinwood (Fagara flava) is another very blonde wood with a wavy grain traditionally used in 18th century Adam, Sheraton and Hepplewhite furniture.

Ramin, because of its plain and straight grain, is used as a substitute for beech.

Furniture Care Tips For Different Furniture Types

Furniture is the heart and soul of a house. The type, texture and the material of your furniture decides the role of a room. It might be really inappropriate to have that Cambodian leather couch in your kitchen rather than in your living room. Most of us eclectic our furniture hoping for a prolonged use with quality and comfort, but wind up usually with a dissatisfied experience right after a few years of use! This is why taking care of your furniture is utmost necessary.

Here are a few tips on how to take care of your furniture keeping an account on the material used…

  1. Fabric Furniture

The attractive factor of fabric furniture is that they are really expendable and are easy to maintain. But a regular check-up and measures has to be done for its prolonged use. Include these tips in your routine check-up:-

  • Vacuum with upholstery attachments to remove dust, dirt and debris between the fabrics. Also make sure the suction is kept low.
  • Spills and marks must be taken care as early as possible because they might get tougher to attend when left unattended for a longer time.
  • Say no to detergents and abrasive cleaners. Using high standard fabric cleaners to take care of the spills and stains are recommended.
  • Sunlight can be harsh on your fabric furniture. Direct exposure of sunlight might result in color fades and weakened fibers resulting in a total disaster.
  • Be cautious while handling sharp objects near your furniture.

We love our pets. But they love our couch more.  Pet odors and fur are really 24problematic when it comes to our fabric furniture. Odors are mostly caused by urine and drools. You might end up with a stinking sofa if not attended properly. Use an oxidizing stain remover for those yellow stains and odors.

  1. Wood Furniture

Just as the price tag states, wood furniture has always been a symbol of royalty and elegance. Since you are spending hug on bringing them home, make sure you maintain them with the same enthusiasm. Follow these 5 tips for extending their lives:-

  • Clean your wooden furniture with extreme caution. Use warm water and mild dish soaps for cleaning as high concentrated soaps or detergents are harsh on the texture and polish of the furniture.
  • Wipe the water and dirt off with soft and clean cloth piece. Use a toothbrush to clean the hard-to-get areas. Make sure you dry-off the moistures present.
  • The best way for covering up the finish is to use a good quality soft paste wax. Follow the instructions as in the label and apply a thin coat as directed. Wait for 5 minutes and polish gently with a shoe polish brush. Repeat the same after an hour.
  • Keep out of reach from direct sunlight to hinder the furniture from losing its shine and color.
  • Using a humidifier in dry seasons is well appreciated as dry heat shrinks the wood leaving behind cracks.
  1. Leather Furniture

Leather is the most durable and low maintenance needed material in this list if maintained properly. Leather gets better with ageing. But, they do tend to attract scratches often. This could be your pets doing or might be an accident from your part. A professional touch would be required to cover up damages of great extent.

Here are a few tips on how to take care of your leather furniture:-

  • Just like wood, leather will fade and stiffen when exposed to hot surfaces and direct sunlight. So, make sure you install your leather furniture away from these places to ensure its reliability.
  • Use a damp white cloth piece and a mild detergent to clean the racked-up dirt from the surface.
  • Restrain your pet from roaming in the area where the furniture is kept to avoid accidents.
  • Immediately use a dry cloth for accidental spills. Using your hair dryer to dry the moisture up would create more complications.


The life of your furniture depends on the way it’s been used and taken care of. Proper furniture care, maintenance and cleaning is mandatory for their extended life.

Author Bio: Ella James  is a lifestyle and decor blogger and editor at Lijo Decor. She is a long-time native from Miami, Florida , USA who loves to publish her own articles in various lifestyle-related websites.

For more useful information, visit our blog at the Furniture Works website.


How to Clean and Care for Leather Furniture

Do you have any leather furniture, or are you considering to buy some? Although that type of furniture needs a little more attention when it comes to maintenance, generally it’s a really good investment. If you tend to do it properly, it will age wonderfully and look better with each year. Caring for it is relatively simple – after you purchase leather furniture, check the tag for any special information and then stick to these tips, and you’ll always have a top-notch leather sofa or couch.


Clean spills fast

Small spills can’t hurt your leather much, you only need to act quickly to prevent discoloration. Don’t use any detergents, just a simple soft cloth or paper towels will do. Wipe it off and leave it to air dry, and it will be like nothing happened.

Image 1

 Oily stains

If dry blotting isn’t enough, you can always try with a wet cloth, but never use a wet cloth on grease or any oily stains because it can make it worse. Oil soaps stain darken the leather so they’re out of the question. They can clean the leather, but it will eventually make the furniture brittle, dry and damaged.

Keep away from sunlight

Avoid putting your leather furniture in direct sunlight, as it can accelerate the natural ongoing discoloration process. Like any upholstery material, leather can fade to some degree if exposed to the sun. Also, extreme temperatures can cause the leather to dry and crack. Whether it’s too cold or too hot, it doesn’t matter – if it bothers you it probably bothers your sofa, too. Therefore, don’t place leather next to air conditioners or radiators.

Image 2

 Stretched leather

Leather stretches, after all. To avoid disfiguration you need to turn reversible seats and back cushions weekly, and seats, arm and back cushions should be regularly plumped up to maintain the shape of your suite. If your leather got stretched beyond plumping or turning it around try this simple trick – a hairdryer. Slowly heat the stretched out area with a hairdryer set on the highest setting and then just leave it be. As the leather cools, it will shrink back to its original size and shape.


It is almost inevitable to have a few scratches on your leather furniture. You can’t keep pets and children away from it forever, can you? It’s made to be sat on, after all. Small scratches can fade away by just rubbing them with the tips of your fingers. The oil on your fingertips will blend with the natural oils on the couch, filling in the scratch like it was never there. However if the scratches are a bit deeper, a shoe polish that matches your leather can fill in the scratches and blend it with the rest.

Check which products you can use

The leather in furniture can vary a lot, so not all leather cleaning products are good to use. Even formulas that claim that are appropriate for any kind of leather can have a different effect.

Domu designer furniture Australia experts advise to always test any new cleaners or conditioners before applying them. You can do this by dabbing a small amount of the product on the leather, in a spot that is normally hidden from view. A small corner on the back of a piece is a good place for a spot test, and you will see the effects without ruining your furniture.

Regular care

To keep your leather furniture looking sharp, you need to dust it and vacuum it regularly. By dusting you will prevent any dirt being worked into creases, and a vacuum cleaner can reach crumbs and other debris hidden in tiny crevices. You can do that any time you’re vacuuming your house, so it becomes a habit, and then you’ll never forget to take care of your furniture. You can do that especially before it’s time to clean and condition the leather.


These are the tips on how to care for your leather furniture. If you follow them, you will probably have no problems keeping it in top-notch for years to come. However, accidents happen sometimes, so if you’re not sure how to deal with it, it’s best to leave some things to the professionals.

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