How Room Color Affects Mood

February 9, 2017

Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.

                                                                                               -Pierre Bonnard

One’s personal color preference is a matter of taste and personality, and when decorating, the colors that make you happy and feel at home will trump all trends and rules. Baby blue might make you feel like everything is right in the world, or perhaps eggshell gives you a sense of serenity and order.

Color’s Effect on the Human Mind

But did you know that there is an actual science behind color’s effect on the mood? It’s true! Certain colors or groups of colors often have the same influence over most people. Color psychology is the study of the effect of colors on human behavior, and while it’s probably most commonly used in marketing and branding, you’ve also probably heard that hospital walls tend to be green because they have a calming effect, for example. In marketing, colors are used to influence consumers’ emotions and perception of their product.
There are three main color groups that influence us in different ways. Active colors are reds, oranges, yellows, light greens, and tend to excite and energize both the mind and body.
Passive colors, such as dark greens, blues, indigos, violets, tend to create a sense of calm and focus. Neutral colors such as beiges, grays, whites, etc., and have a similar effect as passive colors.

Using Color Psychology in Decorating

Color has this power over us in our home as well, so it’s important to choose based not just on our personal taste, but on the colors we know will make us feel calm and at ease in our haven away from the busy world. You can also use it to your advantage in challenging spaces; just as marketers use color to influence potential customers, you can also use color to make the most of a small or awkwardly shaped room. For example, active colors are more stimulating to the eye, while passive colors appear further away, so they create the illusion of space.
Choose the colors of each space in your home wisely. Browse Pinterest and design magazines for inspiration as to how you can use these active, passive, and neutral colors to suit the function and mood you desire for each room in your house.
Choose your textiles first, such as bedding, carpeting, furniture, and tiles, as these will be more distinct than pain, the latter of which comes in a wide variety of colors and can easily be suited to match your more pronounced décor.
Limit the number of colors you decide to feature in each room to three or four. Too many colors can overwhelm the mind, creating the distracting sensation of chaos and clutter.
Before you dive first into psychologically mapping out each room in your home, check out some info on each color and how to use it:


Red is a very energetic color, and perfect for rooms that may host evening entertainment like dining or living rooms. It is such a striking color, it’s also a good pick for entry ways, either outside or inside. Because it is such a stimulating color, it’s not always a great choice for bedrooms. However, red can still work in bedrooms you’d most often occupy in the evening when illuminated with soft, calming lighting that will bring out a rich, muted elegance. Very rich reds such as Crimson have been known to spark anger or irritability, so they might not be the best choice as the dominant color of any room, and rather suitable for accents in an otherwise neutral room.


Orange has always been associated with energy and rejuvenation and has been shown to increase energy levels and improve mood. It’s a striking choice for entry ways or fitness rooms, as it is stimulating and warm. You can even use paler oranges for dining rooms or kitchens, and when used as an accent color, is even suitable for bedrooms or living rooms.


Bright, joyful yellow brings to mind sunshine and is often associated with happiness and levity. It is a lovely choice for kitchens, breakfast nooks, dining rooms, and bathrooms, and is perfect for hallways or smaller rooms to make them feel open. Surprisingly, it has been known to be associated with range when too overwhelming, so it’s best to use softer yellows if you choose it as the dominant color in a room.


As mentioned, green is common in hospital rooms, and for a good reason; when we look at green, it is picked up by just the retina, so it’s less straining on the eye. Green is suitable for virtually any room in the house, and combined with brightening yellow, is a sure way to make any room calming and bright!


A passive color, blue is known to bring down blood pressure and respiration (the opposite effect of red), so it’s an excellent choice for bedrooms and bathrooms. It is best to take caution with blue, however, as darker shades have been shown to evoke feelings of sadness, so if you go with dark shades of blue be sure to balance them with neutrals and brighter accent colors like yellow or pink. Paler blues are usually very calming and inviting, so they’re perfect for family rooms and living rooms.


The color of royalty, purple is dramatic, stately, and elegant. Lighter purples such as lilac or lavender are great alternatives to dark blues, as they are vivid and bold with a bit more warmth than dark blue, and yet have the same calming effect perfect for bedrooms or living rooms. Used as an accent color, it adds a touch of drama and luxury to any neutral room, especially when paired with yellow or gold.


Neutrals such as black, gray, white, and beige, are the basics you need to enhance any decorating scheme. Neutrals are the backdrop for brighter colors to shine, and you can make simple tweaks to décor or furniture in a neutral room while keeping the base color intact. Beiges and grays are great as wall colors to be accented with colorful décor or artwork, while white is a classic that will never go out of style! Black has its place in decorating, and while you probably won’t want to dominate w room with it, in classy, sleek furniture, it is as classic as the little black dress.

Your home is your expression of your personality and creativity, use the color pallet to your advantage! Keep the influence color has on us in mind as you choose the colors of your home or update old looks, and you’re sure to create a space that you love.

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