Choosing a paint color for your space can be a really daunting task. Not only are there just about a million different shades to choose from, but did you know that different colors actually effect our moods too? When you choose a paint color, you're not just selecting an aesthetic for your home, you're also quite literally setting the mood for your space!
By understanding and using the psychology of color strategically when designing your home, you will not only finish with an absolutely beautiful space as the end result, but each room will have a purposeful feeling whenever you're spending time in it. Today I'm going to walk you through the basics of color psychology so that you can feel confident to select the perfect colors for every space. I've also created a free downloadable guide for you to print out and bring along on your next trip to the paint aisle, this guide not only breaks down the psychology of color in a fun, bite-sized way, but I've included some of my favorite paint selections for each color! Click here to get the free guide sent directly to your inbox!
Now, let's talk about color!
R E D
Red is the most intense of the colors and definitely makes a big energetic impact in a space. It’s a bright, beautiful color that is great for encouraging feelings of courage, excitement, and festivity, and is also known for increasing our appetite, which is why you’ll often see it used in kitchens and restaurants (I mean, hey! It’s good for business!). Red can also be a great color choice for a bedroom if done correctly. It is important to keep in mind, however, that red also stimulates increased blood pressure and can instill feelings of fear, anger, and aggression - all that extra energy means it may not be the best choice for an area where you’re trying to relax. Large doses of red may have a bigger emotional impact than you’d desired, so for best results consider using this color thoughtfully and sparingly.
O R A N G E
When used right, orange is a great color for promoting feelings of warmth, cheerfulness, strength, and festivity throughout your space, but it’s also one of the most controversial colors - we are conditioned to perceive orange as being an alert to danger and it increases our heart rate. For example, think about the signs used along a construction site or the vests worn by highway workers - they use bright orange to get our attention and alert us to potential danger ahead. It is also the color most likely to be chosen by people as their least favorite, so you may want to avoid it if you plan on selling soon, or even if you prioritize entertaining in your space. One way that I like to use orange when designing is to darken the hue to a rust color so that it tames it and creates less of an emotional response.
Y E L L O W
Yellow is a beautiful color that is great for creating cheerful, happy spaces and promoting feelings of optimism, vitality, and enhanced concentration - it also gives us a boost of energy! It can be a great color to use in offices, kitchens, bathrooms, and children’s play areas, however I suggest avoiding yellow in nurseries (it’s actually known to be the color that makes babies cry the most!) or any other space that requires relaxation as yellow is also known to make us feel nervous, spark our tempers, and is another color used to caution us to dangers. Our eyes register yellow before any other color, which is important to keep in mind when designing. If you pair yellow with another color, it will be the one that stands out. Because of this, strong yellows usually work best as an accent color or in smaller spaces.
G R E E N
With its serene and tranquil feel, green is one of my favorite colors to use in design. The color green is associated with feelings of growth, relaxation, and life, and also helps to make a space feel fresh and renewed. Because we see green in such large doses through our experience with nature, it puts us at ease and therefore is a color we can feel confident in using more liberally throughout our homes. A potential thing to keep in mind when using green is that it can also harness feelings of envy, guilt, or disease when not implemented correctly. I love using this color in any space of the home, and through choosing the right color and application, you can create a harmonious, beautiful space.
B L U E
Blue is the most calming of the colors - perfect for bedrooms and living rooms, blue is a color that promotes relaxation and comfort and is said to slow your heart rate as well as lower your blood pressure. Blue is also known to be a color that helps you to think more clearly and be more productive, making it a great choice for an office or study area. Darker applications of blue project feelings of strength and loyalty - the association of the color blue with trust and stability is perhaps why more people choose this color as their favorite over any other color. Because blue is known to decrease appetite, I suggest avoiding it in kitchens and dining rooms. You may also want to be cautious because when used incorrectly, blue can also provoke feelings of sadness or depression, isolation or loneliness, and, especially cooler versions of the hue can leave a space feeling cold.
P U R P L E
Purple is another color to use cautiously through design as a large percentage of the population has very strong negative feelings toward this color. Due to its placement on the color wheel, and the fact that it doesn’t often show up organically in nature, purple can have a very unsettling feeling about it; it’s often viewed as rare and mysterious. Negative associations with the color purple include feelings of gloom, a connection with death, and even increased rage. However, when used correctly, purple can also inspire feelings of bravery, loyalty, and sacred or spiritual feelings. It’s also a color known to promote creativity, so it may work well to include in a craft room.
P I N K
If you’re looking for a softer look, pink is a great color choice. Because of its sweet, delicate nature, pink is a great choice for bathrooms, nurseries, or any other space where a feminine vibe is desired. Pink is a color that has been associated with physical weakening, in fact, it’s been known that some football teams will paint the opponent’s locker room pink in an effort to throw them off their game (ha!). I personally love to include small doses of blush pink into otherwise masculine spaces for a unique juxtaposition.
W H I T E
White is a great color when going for a fresh clean look - it’s known to instill feelings of purity, cleanliness, and empowerment. However, if used in large doses it can come off as empty or sterile if not applied alongside plenty of textures or warm hues. White can be very effective when used in simple modern spaces and acts as a great canvas for other colors to play off of.
B L A C K
There is no other color that grounds a space as effectively as black, which is why it is my very favorite color to use in design. When used correctly, black provokes feelings of sophistication, power, and safety. A word of caution when using black, if not done carefully it can leave a space feeling empty and sad, especially considering it’s close association with death. But when used correctly, black can so effortlessly work to achieve contrast within a lighter space and when used in large doses creates a dramatic, moody atmosphere.
G R A Y
Because of its versatility, grays have become the go-to color when designing spaces. There is such a range of options available, and when used well, gray can promote feelings of intelligence in a space. However, gray can have the tendency to give off feelings of confusion, depression, or fleeting confidence. When choosing grays for a space, I pay close attention to the other existing colors and finishes to ensure the gray chosen is an appropriate hue for that particular space. For example, if there is existing stained wood, I would choose a gray with brown undertones, compared to a space with lots of white where I could more easily lean more toward cool-toned grays.
B R O W N
Brown is most commonly used in wood tones and is known to give feelings of warmth and richness to a space. Brown can also help us to feel comforted and secure within our homes. Though, too much brown in a space can easily feel boring or gloomy, so I strongly suggest pairing it with other colors. In my own practices, I find brown to work best in materials such as flooring, doors, woodwork and cabinetry, and leather furniture, with other colors used in paint and furnishings to complete the space.
Phew, who knew that there was so much that went into deciding colors?! Did any of these aspects about color surprise you or help you to make a more confident color selection for your home? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear! And be sure to click here for my free downloadable color guide sent straight to your inbox - it includes fun, bite-sized blurbs about each color as well as my three favorite paint colors for each hue!