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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Color My World - Design Therapy for Balance and Healing

Apr 28, 2010 09:10PM
by Lisa Moore photos by Meredith Jones Photography

We are all affected by our surroundings, whether or not we’re consciously aware of it. It’s long been known that the arrangement of furniture and objects in a room can enhance the flow and feeling of that area. When living spaces are beautiful and functional, we are more likely to be fulfilled and happy. The intentional use of color can be an equally transformative force for personal spaces.

Each color has a specific vibrational energy and wavelength. Considered the visual essence of life, color can stimulate your appetite, make you sick, turn you off, excite or soothe you. It can also be used as a way of healing to bring about positive changes like balancing the mind and body or even promoting wealth and fertility.

Jill Akbay, a massage therapist, and Jennifer Thompson, an Acutonics sound therapist, noticed significant changes in the way their workspace at Om Enerji felt after a design makeover.

With the help of designer Sarah Nielsen they transformed their “natural and safe” taupe studio into a relaxing atmosphere where healing can occur. Akbay says the changes make clients feel nurtured and supported.

“Our clients continually tell us how relaxed they feel as soon as they walk in the door,” states Akbay. “One person said it felt like his blood pressure dropped 20 points after stepping into our studio.”

Nielsen, of Davidson, owns Fresh Interior Design Therapy and helps clients understand what is blocking them in their lives by looking at the spaces they occupy and the colors they surround themselves with. She became personally aligned with the power a supportive decor can have when her mother, Judy, fractured her spinal cord in a bicycle accident and became a quadriplegic.

Nielsen transformed her mother's dismal hospital room into a beautiful healing environment. Amazingly, Judy regained her strength after six weeks in the rehabilitation hospital and learned how to walk again with the use of a cane. Nielsen added design and color therapy to her mother’s home and Judy continued to improve. Today she enjoys gentle yoga and no longer uses a cane.

Now an advocate and educator for creating a healthy and empowering environment, Nielsen uses the Dewey Color System, which is based on the concept that color can be used to reveal the core of an individual's personality. This scientifically validated non-language personality test helps people fine-tune their career goals, improve communication skills and deepen relationships -- all based on their color choices.

Nielsen says when people surround themselves with the colors they love they are sending messages out to the world and reinforcing what they love. “Our favorite colors encourage, nurture and support us,” she says. “A cold colorless room does not make us feel at home, warm or inspired.”

For those who are not comfortable with bold wall colors, neutral tones work fine, but it’s important to layer color in a space. “Neutral colors like gray and tan allow you to be more versatile with your décor and they also act as a great back drop for colorful artwork and accessories,” says Nielsen who holds a degree in interior design and is an affiliate member of the Interior Design Society.

She says if you are living with basic builder white, it is time to add a touch of color to your walls. Even a creamier white or off white can offer more warmth to a space. Add brightly colored pillows, throw blankets, decorative accessories, furniture or colorful artwork to your room.

Nielsen uses guided questioning and a color personality test to understand and create a client’s personalized color scheme that will stimulate, soothe and rejuvenate his or her being. “We are all inspired by something, whether it is an area rug we own or a leaf in nature,” she states, “but it is from understanding who we are and how we live that our personal style is born.”

Our homes are sanctuaries that nourish, replenish and recharge us. Creating them with intention and purpose can often bring positive shifts. Being aware of our innate color preferences helps us to address both what we need and what we are missing in our lives.

“Design and color therapy are like a massage for your home,” says Nielsen. “You will find you are more at peace and relaxed in your space and in the world.”

To learn more about Nielsen, visit For information on color therapy visit

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