Do you avoid lingering in your living room? Does your home office crush the motivation right out of your soul? Take a look at the color of your walls and how much light gets into the room through the windows. It may be that the combination is affecting your mood negatively.
A fresh coat of paint can make a home look newer, increase the value of your home, and – most importantly – brighten your mood.
As a home decorator, colors are avery important part of my work. To help you decide on the best new color to use in your living room, bedroom, or any other room in your home, I’ve compiled the following comprehensive guide on the psychology of how different colors influence your emotions, along with which colors are best applied to which rooms for the most joyful mood.
Before falling in love with a particular color, remember to ask yourself these three questions:
- What do you typically do in that room?
- What emotional state of mind will most help you accomplish those tasks?
- Does this color evoke the emotional state of mind you need?
Psychology & Meaning Of: Red
Red, depending on the intensity and shade, can evoke strong emotions of power, assertiveness, and domination or subtle emotions such as thoughtfulness. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut and KFC all use the color because it encourages appetites and hunger. However, red is also typically characterized as a passionate color and is associated with love (red roses) and Valentine’s Day.
- Increases hunger
- Pumps up adrenaline
- Stirs excitement and passion; great for romance
- Unsaturated red increases friendliness and warmth
- Raises blood pressure, increases the heart rate, and speeds up respiration
- Studies indicate that being exposed to red before an exam can cause people to do poorly or fail their exams
- Too much red is believed to evoke anger
Best Places To Use: Red
- Dining Room: Since red encourages appetites, an ideal place to use it would be the dining room, to make people hungry, as opposed to the kitchen, where people are in the process of cooking. Studies have shown that if you go to a grocery store while hungry, you’re more likely to deviate from your grocery list and buy an excess of unneeded food. In the same sense, using red in the kitchen may cause you to eat food before it is fully prepared or even makes it to the dining room.
- Front Door: Culturally, a red front door has been regarded as a sign of good luck and a safe place. In China, many paint their doors red before the Chinese New Year for good luck and to draw chi into the home. In America, a red door used to indicate that the home was a safe stop for travelers. Red also creates a strong first impression, and as such, is great for the front door.
Places To Carefully Use: Red
- Bedroom: The right shade of red can enhance your romantic relationship, but too much red is linked with danger and can have the opposite effect, endangering your relationship and increasing levels of anger.
Places To Avoid Using: Red
- Office/Study: Since offices and studies are typically used to get work done, and red is known to stimulate people, it is not the best color to use in a study room or office. Opt instead for a color that will help you concentrate and encourage creative flow, such as blue.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Blue
One of the most popular colors in offices, blue is frequently associated with calmness, serenity, meditation, peacefulness, and water.
- Brings down blood pressure and slows both respiration and the heart rate
- Associated with relaxation, serenity, and calm states of being
- Promotes alertness – sunlight contains color from the blue end of the spectrum and wakes people up: the same result can be achieved with blue LEDs
- Encourages intelligence – studies indicate that people who were exposed to blue before taking an exam were more likely to succeed and achieved greater results on their exam
- Especially in winter, certain shades of blue can come across as cold and make people feel unwelcome
- Rooms that receive little sunlight come across as especially icy when painted blue
- Pastel blue evokes introversion
Best Places To Use: Blue
- Offices/Studies: Because blue encourages intelligence and alertness, the workspace is one of the best places to use it.
- Bedrooms: Since blue also calms people and provides a sense of serenity and peace, the bedroom (where one goes to sleep) is another great place to use it.
Places To Carefully Use: Blue
- Living Room: Dull and light blues can come across as cold or unpleasantly chilly in certain circumstances and thus discourage socializing. When using blue in the living room, aim for saturated and warm hues of blue such as cerulean. Dark blue, such as navy blue, can encourage sad emotions, so use these sparingly.
- Children’s Room: If you have a shy child or one that is prone to depression, certain shades of blue (such as pastel blue and dark blue) may not be the best color to use in their room.
Places To Avoid Using: Blue
- Dining Room: Blue has been known to curb appetites. Unless you’re trying an extreme diet, opt for a color that encourages appetites, like red.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Yellow
A bright and sunny color, yellow is a double-edged sword. While it is commonly associated with happiness and can stimulate intellect, yellow is also known to make babies cry more and to evoke feelings of frustration and distress. Still, it’s a great accent color.
- Bright yellow stimulates intellect
- Unsaturated yellow increases relaxation and differential behavior
- Associated with sunshine and happiness
- Grabs attention
- Creates enthusiasm and can awaken greater confidence and optimism
- In excess, has been known to cause distress, frustration, and feelings of anger
- Causes babies to cry – studies show that babies are more likely to cry in a yellow room
- May strain the eyes or cause eye fatigue
Best Places To Use: Yellow
- Kitchen: Yellow is said to increase metabolism and give a person energy. While cooking in the kitchen, energy and cheer is exactly what you need.
- Bathroom: What better place to add a spark of sunshine than the bathroom!
Places To Carefully Use: Yellow
- Dining Room: Since excessive amounts of yellow can make people feel frustrated and may lead to an outbreak of emotions, avoid using it in the dining room. Unless you’re on a reality TV show, in which case, yellow will enhance the likelihood of a dramatic family dinner with flipped tables.
Places To Avoid Using: Yellow
- Bedrooms & Children’s Room: Yellow makes babies cry. You want to sleep. Save yourself from interruptions and use a different color in the children’s room.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Green
Frequently associated with nature, green is an excellent color that can be incorporated into a variety of different rooms.
- Associated with nature, the outdoors, forests, plants, and wealth
- Studies indicate that colors reminiscent of foliage and nature tend to reduce symptoms of ADD in children
- Some claim that green can prevent nightmares
- Evokes tranquility, composure, comfort, and relaxation
- Saturated hues of green stimulate verbal wit and critical analysis
- Desaturated hues of green stimulate confidence
- Green may calm a person to the point of becoming placid and lethargic
Best Places To Use: Green
- Kitchen & Living Room: Green will help add a note of calmness and serenity to clear your mind for various social tasks, while still promoting a sense of togetherness through its warm undertones.
- Bedrooms & Children’s Room: With children, green may reduce symptoms of ADD and prevent nightmares. With adults, green should help you unwind after a long and arduous day, and encourage a more restful sleep. In addition, green is said to help with fertility.
- Trophy Room/Den: Unsaturated and darker greens evoke confidence, and as such are great to use in the trophy room.
Places To Carefully Use: Green
- Offices/Studies: To help you focus on your work, try adding some green elements to your office space.
Places To Avoid Using: Green
- Green is a fairly versatile color.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Purple
Throughout history, purple was commonly used by kings, queens, rulers, emperors and more to distinguish their royal status. Because of its royal heritage, purple is often associated with luxury, distinction, and sophistication. At the same time, purple evokes creativity and lighter tints of purple can encourage serenity.
- Associated with wealth, luxury, royalty, and high social status
- Encourages creativity
- Creates a sense of serenity without the chilly undertones that blue can sometimes convey
- None have been noted.
Best Places To Use: Purple
- Offices/Studies: Purple is great in an office or study to enhance creative inspiration.
- Trophy Room/Den, Great Room, Entry Hall, Bathroom: If you’re going for a royal flair and an awe-inspiring welcome, try using purple in the entry hall, bathroom, great room, or even the trophy room/den.
Places To Carefully Use: Purple
- Children’s Room: If your child plays in their room, then purple is great for encouraging their creativity and sense of adventure. However, purple may also give them a hard time falling asleep. If your child has their own playroom, then purple is a great color to use there.
Places To Avoid Using: Purple
- Bedroom: Since purple stimulates creativity and, in that sense, awakens an individual, the bedroom may not be the most ideal place to use it. Bedrooms are typically used to sleep, not to wake up and conjure a variety of ideas.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Orange
An exciting color, orange grabs attention and enhances enthusiasm and energy. Like yellow, orange is cheerful and merry, but unlike yellow, orange does not make babies cry.
- Increases energy
- Certain shades encourage appetites
- Evokes warmth and socialization
- Creates excitement and enthusiasm
- In America, orange is associated with prison uniforms
- In America, orange is also used to indicate construction work
Best Places To Use: Orange
- Exercise Room: Orange is great in an exercise room as that is typically when you need energy the most.
- Dining Room: Certain shades of orange stimulate the appetite, and so are great to use in the dining room.
Places To Carefully Use: Orange
- Living Room: Depending on the shade of orange used, you may accidentally encourage hunger in the living room instead of social energy.
- Kitchen: As with red, orange may not be the best color to use in the kitchen simply because of the hunger it can stimulate.
Places To Avoid Using: Orange
- Bedroom: Whereas purple awakes the mind, orange awakens with a burst of energy. To help you sleep at night, avoid using orange in the bedroom.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Brown
Frequently considered a neutral color by designers and home stagers, brown – like green – is extremely versatile and can be used almost anywhere.
- Evokes quietude, strength, reliability, and sophistication
- Brings about desires to cozy up to a fireplace, and feelings of intimacy and togetherness
- Associated with nature and the wilderness and, as such, is sometimes described as down-to-earth and conventional
- Can be used as a complementary color in a palette with stronger colors, such as blue, green, red, etc.
- In excess, can create feelings of sadness, isolation, and loneliness
- Can also be regarded as vast, empty, stark, and akin to a desert
Best Places To Use: Brown
- Living Room: To draw people together and encourage quality cuddling time in front of the fireplace, add some brown to the living room. While blue can seem chilly and off-putting in the winter, brown is sure to bring comfort.
- Trophy Room/Den: For a quiet yet powerful note in the den or trophy room, spring for brown. Coupled with green and accented by gold, this triple color combination is often regarded as quietly sophisticated and yet conducive to getting work done. As such, the color combination is also great for a den that doubles as a study or office.
Places To Carefully Use: Brown
Places To Avoid Using: Brown
- None. Like green, it is considered a fairly versatile color.
Psychology & Meaning Of: White
As the saying goes, white (and black) matches everything. White is an excellent color, particularly when you can’t decide on a single color and want to focus on a complex color palette for the furniture and window treatments. In large rooms that get a lot of sunlight, white can help to accomplish a bohemian style or can be used to refine a room and give it a Greek flair. White is frequently used in more modern, contemporary homes.
- Gives off feelings of sanitation, cleanliness, and purity
- Spaciousness – typically makes small rooms appear larger
- Creates an airy and open atmosphere
- Associated with harmony, reticence, and formality
- Can sometimes be regarded as bland, a blank slate, and a lack of effort to color a room
Best Places To Use: White
- Bathroom & Laundry Room: Because white evokes sanitation and cleanliness, it’s a great color to use in both the bathroom and laundry room, where cleanliness is the primary goal.
- Any room in the house
Places To Carefully Use: White
Places To Avoid Using: White
- Rooms that get very little sunlight: Although white goes with anything and can make small rooms appear larger, rooms that get little sunlight may seem bland, one-dimensional, and drab with white walls. Rooms with the most sunlight benefit from white because the natural light bounces off the white walls and helps to brighten the room even more, giving it that airy, open, and spacious atmosphere.
Psychology & Meaning Of: Black
Like white, black goes with anything and everything. However, unlike white, too much black can drown out a room and create a negative atmosphere. Designers and home stagers generally agree that a touch of black in any room helps to ground the main color palette used in that room and give it a sense of depth.
- Evokes formality, strength, protection
- Associated with luxury and sophisticated
- Regarded as authoritative, powerful, self-controlled, disciplined, and independent
- In excess, black can lead to depression, mood swings, feelings of melancholy and even create a negative environment
- Can evoke the desire to stay indoors
Best Places To Use: Black
- Any room in the house: to avoid depressive qualities, be sure to use only a touch of black to highlight the main color palette of the room.
Places To Carefully Use: Black
Places To Avoid Using: Black
- Small Rooms: Black naturally drains the light out of a room and makes it appear smaller. As such, small rooms may come across as claustrophobic if painted black or containing too much black furniture.
Enjoy the fresh coat of paint! The best part of painting a room, aside from the act of painting and doing it with friends or family, is enjoying the results of all your hard work.
Want to keep a copy of this guide handy? Download a PDF version here.