What color are the walls in your favorite room at home? Rich red? Earthy tan? Clean off-white? The color you painted the walls may be one of the reasons it’s your favorite room according to the broadening field of color research. In fact, psychologists and other experts now think that the colors you surround yourself with on a large scale – such as how you paint your various living spaces – will have a profound emotional and psychological effect on your family, evoking different sensations, feelings and even memories depending on the hue and spectrum.
“Color is a universal, nonverbal language, and we all intuitively know how to speak it,” says Leslie Harrington, a color consultant for luxury home designers in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. “What color you paint your walls isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. It’s a tool that can be leveraged to affect emotions and behavior.”
According to this color theory, each color elicits a unique emotional response in the viewer, impacting their feelings but also affecting behaviors, motivations and even health through the mind-body physiological connection.
Let’s look a host of colors we might find painted on the walls of your home – or even colors that dominate your décor – and find out what they mean. Remember, too, that this is also dictated by the hue and vibrancy of specific colors – ranging from pastel bright vibrancy to demure rich subtle tones. So you’ll see a range of emotions/psychological affects listed even within the same color grouping.
In part two of this blog we’ll examine more variations on color psychology in the home, including the best colors room-by-room, and other tips how to use color to positively affect your family’s mood and emotions.
Psychological effect: Passion, love, immediacy, energy
Red is a color with a lot of gravity, inciting strong emotions. That could be good with brighter shades that increase energy and feelings of hunger, while darker shades are more calming and add space, or immersion, to a room. Red rooms can increase blood circulation, breathing rates, and metabolism, but also may remind some of blood or war if too dark or overwhelming.
Psychological effect: Cheer, attention, optimism, fresh, energy, happy, Friendly, Warning
Yellow is a great color for some rooms but should be treated carefully. On the one hand, it activates feelings of energy, lightness and happiness, but it can also trigger the anxiety center in the brain and flash warning. Lighter shades are fresher and more optimistic, while darker and more muted gold shades add a sense of antiquity.
Psychological effect: Natural, stable, prosperous, soothing, balance, restful, envy, jealousy
Green tones can represent the outdoors and nature, bringing on the soothing and harmonious feelings of the outdoors. But when too dark or bold, they can also take over a room, triggering thoughts about money and prosperity (stressful) or even negative emotions of jealousy, so use organic, soft toned greens in the house.
Psychological effect: Serene, trustworthy, inviting, smart, professional, stability
Blue is sparingly used around the house except maybe in bedrooms or dens, but can illicit feelings of calmness, serenity, and even trust. Light blues the color of water are more refreshing and freeing, while darker blues are stately and important. But keep blues away from the kitchen and dining room because the color actually acts as an appetite suppressant.
Psychological effect: Luxurious, mysterious, romantic, royal, sadness, arrogance
Purple is the color of royalty, opulent luxury and even romantic feelings. It rarely should be used in an entire room or else it could turn somber and bleak, but accent walls or the right tone could set the mood in the bedroom or offer an air of elegance around the house.
Psychological effect: Earthy, sturdy, rustic, grounding, organic
When it comes to home décor, brown walls are usually used with very light hues, like beige, sand and tan. The right brown shade can add calming simplicity to walls and make the space look much bigger, brilliantly accentuating any other colors around it – including white trim. But too dark of a hue and it will close off the room and make it feel smaller, or literally make the viewer feel like they’re in mud!
Psychological effect: Neutral, formal, gloomy
Gray is one of the most interesting and powerful colors because it emits an aura of neutrality, being halfway between black and white. Painting a room (or, commonly, the exterior of your house) gray will automatically accentuate all other colors and elements in the room. But this neutral color can also turn somber and gloomy if the tones are too dark or used in an entire room.
Psychological effect: Feminine, youth, innocent, love, and compassion
Pink is not common in homes except traditionally in girl’s rooms, where it denotes feminism, sweetness and youth. The color pink naturally calms and pacifies our emotional energies, and is often used in institutional or correctional settings to calm aggressive, violent, angry and anxious inmates or guests.
Psychological effect: Clean, virtuous, healthy, airy, lightness
White contains every color in the spectrum, and likewise, white paints run the gambit of just about every shade or tint of other colors from yellows to grays, pinks to greens, and hundreds of tan-whites. But no matter what shade off white or off-white you use in the home, it gives a clean, open, spacious impression, balancing a room while maintaining neutrality.