What are Your Colors?

By Laura Gordon

I’ve been contemplating sacred space over the last little while and want to share with you some of my thoughts as well as the thoughts of others over the next few blogs I create.
As massage therapists we have a most intimate and yet impersonal connection with everyone who lies on our massage table. Have we created a place in which they can relax from the stress of their daily lives and feel safe – a sacred space? In school we do not devote much time discussing the influence of light, color, sound, and music in creating a room that is calming and soothing. So here is a brief look into it.
I’ll cover light and color first. Did you know that color has a vibration? It’s really a study all unto itself but the long a short of it, so to speak, according to a NASA website (http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ems/visible.html) is: “Visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves (aka vibrations) we can see. We see these waves as the colors of the rainbow. Each color has a different wavelength. Red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest wavelength. When all the waves are seen together, they make white light.
When white light shines through a prism, the white light is broken apart into the colors of the visible light spectrum. Water vapor in the atmosphere can also break apart wavelengths creating a rainbow.”

From long ago to today, architects of Hindu, Buddhist, Islam & Christian religions have used light and colors to create a sense of the sacred such as the use of the sun’s angle creating shadows and light that “dance” across the room through screens of wood or stone carved in geometric shapes or through stained glass windows. Adding candles only enhances the effect.
Others have studied the physiological and psychological effects color has on the body with a focus on healing and enhancing spiritual awakening. The chakras, or energy centers of the body, are a good example of how each color of the seven major colors of the rainbow resonates with one of the seven chakras of the body.

How can we take this knowledge and create a space, a sacred space, in which to welcome our clients? Obviously we can’t afford to hire a team of artisans and builders to recreate a cathedral or temple as an adjunct to our place of business, but perhaps we can incorporate a few ideas from them.

Here are some questions and possible answers regarding color to ask yourself when it comes time to create your massage therapy room:
What color of the walls would be soothing? Below is some interesting information on the psychological effect of color taken from the website: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/colors1.html#ixzz1Lb7Rzn1Y. Keep in mind the following relates to primary colors which are “loud” and excite the visual senses. So read with the thought that a muted hue or shade of the color that speaks to you is the goal:
• “Red: The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

• The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

• Blue: The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

• Green: Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.

• Yellow: Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

• Purple: The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

• Brown: Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.”

How about the color of the fabric for window dressing or wall covering? Wall covering? Why not find a color and or pattern that is soothing and pleasing to the eye to drape or hang on a wall or across the ceiling? If florescent tube lighting is on your ceiling, hanging a swath of fabric covering the ceiling can be most effective and create a more nurturing environment.

If there is a window, how can the light that comes from the window be used to enhance the feel of the room? Natural light is a wonderful thing with which to work. If there is a lot of light that comes through the window, muting its brightness can be done using draped fabric either in a formal or casual style that suits the look you want to create, bamboo shades for a more relaxed and possibly Eastern Oriental feeling, frosted or shaded/colored glass for a modern look are just a few ideas.
Wall and window treatment is just a start but an important one. It sets the environment, quality and tone of your work before you even begin. Take time to start with the basics and build on them. After selecting colors and the use of light adding framed images, furnishings, etc. to enhance the room will follow.

In your commentary below answer the following questions for me:
1. What color you would select for your room and why. Include what you hope to accomplish with your selection such as “I hope to create a room that will embrace my client with serenity.”
2. Is location of your place of work  important to you?
3. Where do you plan to practice your massage therapy?
4. What kind treatment would you do to the windows?
5. What will be your source of lighting for your therapy room(s)?

21 thoughts on “What are Your Colors?”

  1. Loved this article! I want my massage rooms to have different shades of blue, green and brown. I think natural tones are best and are relaxing to people.

  2. I want to create an environment in which clients feel so relaxed they don’t want to leave. Clean, crisp lines and cool recessed lighting, some green plants surrounded by green, blue and brown colors should create that for me I like shutters for window treatments. I also love hidden lighting, such as shining up from the floor. I don’t want to have a client having to look at a light fixture when they are laying supine on my table

  3. I would choose green, it is calming to me and would hopefully exchange that calm energy to my client. Lighting would be low lamp lighting. window treatments, perhaps shutters, they are heavy enough to stay in place if the day is nice to have the window open, maybe some light linen curtain to soften. The location is important, it’s like the first “face” the client sees, it should be an inviting entrance.

  4. Color would be green or blue, environment eould be secluded away from highway, lighting dim but manageable, I would work from home.

  5. I would choose tans blues and greens. These are all realaxing colors of nature, sky and water. All of these are places people go to relax. The locatioin is very inportant, it needs to be a fresh and inviting atmosphere. If i have a room with windows I will use more of a natural covering like bamboo coverings. If ther is no windows I will use floor lighting so it can be soft and relaxing. I want to practice for a physical therapist.

  6. I probably will use browns, and oranges, greens. I would want an “earthly” feel. For the window treatment i would use the same color as the walls so that their attention wouldn’t be drawn out. That’s pretty much it.

  7. My late partner and I often employed colored light in the special education room in which we held classes. We changed the covers over the fluorescents in the room.

    The location in which I work is very important to me. The location should have adequate foot traffic to the area. The interior should be uncluttered, yet eclectic, warm and comfortable. I don’t know what color I’d use for the walls in my massage room. It would depend on whether there is a natural light source or not. Ideally, there would be and the walls would be a light cream color and I’d hang prisms in the windows. I prefer washable window treatments. The color of the lighting would depend on the intent of massage I would be giving and would be changeable.

  8. 1) I’m going to use earth tones dark greem lots of different shades of brown.
    2) yes
    3) hospital
    4) black out curtains
    5) lamps

  9. I would choose different shades of green,some light some dark,baby blue,and shades of brown. I want a very natural setting as if we were in nature. I would have dim lighting above, and tan shades with multiple patterns in them. I would also have candles and soft peaceful music playing. It is important to me to have a very peaceful, calm, place for my clients.

  10. Color would be purples and tans, want to create a room that feels safe, secure and my clients want to be in.
    Yes it will make a difference where my business will be, easy to get to and not on any main road way.
    Vinita, Ok
    If any windows or natural lighting, will try the material draping.
    Don’t know if it will have direct lighting or windows ?
    I know it will be great when I start to get my business ready, thanks for all the great information. Looking forward to more.

  11. 1. What color you would select for your room and why. Include what you hope to accomplish with your selection such as “I hope to create a room that will embrace my client with serenity.”
    The background wall colour of the room is a very muted soft, muted yellow with golden browns ragged in. The walls are textured, so it seems very Tuscan. It is warm without being overwhelming, giving the client a sense of being in a different country, surrounded by peace–very sunset-feeling.
    2. Is location of your place of work important to you?
    Extremely. Location tells the client they are safe. Location speaks volumes.
    3. Where do you plan to practice your massage therapy?
    I have a great room at 91st and Yale.
    4. What kind treatment would you do to the windows?
    The drapes are nubby bronze silk hung on a black decorative pole. I used yellowed-beige sheers that have a nautilus design with gold flecks in them.
    5. What will be your source of lighting for your therapy room(s)?
    I have two lamps with dimmers and a Himalayan Salt lamp. Very soft, golden light.

  12. I Would use blues and greens with low lamps and natural lighting to create a serene environment for my clients. Location is key to a great business. Not sure where I plan to practice yet but hopefully on the outskirts of Tulsa or possibly Virginia beach.

  13. I would use my favorite color, blue. Not only is it calming to the client, but it’s calming to me. I would use bamboo shades and natural lighting. My work environment will be a place clients will feel safe and there won’t be distractions. Thanks for tips on how to improve our profession!

  14. The colors I would chose are tan/brown goldish and green. These are earthy tones and to me very calming.

    The place I plan to work is very important.

    I plan to work from my home.

    I will be using shears on my windows.

    Lights that are muted and turned down softly, I would also like to use candles is the client is not allergic.

  15. Color therapy actually works. I’ve used it a couple of times especially during meditation. My favorite colors are red and violet.

  16. I would choose green, blue and tan, because they are earthy and relaxing! To me the place to massage is not important as long as its quiet and peaceful. I would not like a place that is loud and busy. I would like a window with the wooden shudders and have a pretty scenery to look at. for lighting i would have a nice water fountain with lights and candles (led)! Which are very cool!! I would also have a strand of Christmas lights and a lamp on the table for their jewelry. I think that ultimate place would be on a beach!

  17. I think I would choose greens and browns just to feel earthy. Dark bamboo around the room to accent. I want the room to feel homey and comfortable so my guests will relax more easily

  18. I would use white, cream colors, and soft blues and greens. I would want my room to have a clean and refreshing atmosphere. I would use lamps with dim lights and blackout curtains on the windows. I believe the location is a very important factor in this business because I know if I was getting a massage I wouldn’t want to hear people honking or bumpin going down the road.

  19. Hello I am Jessica Lang(Jessie)

    I hav learn when I was a early headstart teacher that colors do affect things like your feelings, and how much light it brings into a room but now I am also learning that its not the only thing that send out messages like that which I think is so cool cant wait to learn more.

  20. 1. I like light blues and nature greens. I hope that my clients would feel one with themselves and nature during our session.
    2. Location should’nt matter too much as far as decorating. You could make a tropical get away in the middle of the desert.
    3. I’d like to work with a chiropractor
    4. I would have dark shades so that only the necessary natural light was allowed in
    5. natural

  21. I work in a day spa and am the only therapist, however the second one is being added and her room is striking,yet soothing. Hard to explain. I always have a “signature” wall, one with a dark color, right now I have brown suede paint, and a sconce on the wall that dimly lights up my sign saying “RELAX”. The sign is black trim, kind of antique, and a cream background. The word is black. The wall is “Framed” with creamy paint and rosettes on each corner. It’s AWESOME. If you get a picture, do what you see in you mind, and ususally, its what you were supposed to do, if you have an artistic vision.