Psychology of Color
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Hi, I’m Emily. I'm an interior designer at Neylan Design.
I received my degree in interior design from Mississippi College and throughout my life I have had a passion for two things: interior design and painting. Painting can evoke different feelings in a person and that is the same with the color choices you place in your home or business. Color psychology is one of the largest topics discussed in the Interior Design world.
Color psychology is one of the largest topics discussed in the interior design world. Color psychology is so important because it has a direct impact on what happens in the space. Did you know that a simple color choice could make your young child cry more often or irritate an Alzheimer's patient? On a more positive note, color choices can even promote and speed up healing.
Let’s think practically. Take a minute to consider this question: Which restaurants have blue in their logos? Few, if any, come to mind. Now consider which restaurants have red in their logos. Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, KFC… the list goes on. As you have probably gathered by now, there is a reason for this discrepancy. The color blue suppresses hunger whereas the color red actually invokes the feeling of hunger.
So, what about residential use of paint colors? How do they affect your family or your clients? Colors are a matter of personal preference, of course, but knowing the impact colors have on a space can impact your preferences. And who knows, you might even want to make changes in your home after learning more!
From powder to deep navy, the color blue promotes comfort and relaxation. For this reason, blue is used repeatedly throughout spaces where calmness is needed, like hospitals. Blue is often referred to as a “non-threatening” color, calling to mind feelings of calmness or serenity. Having a blue space can allow focus and relaxation to occur.
We often see green used in commercial spaces. I’m here to tell you that we need to better-utilize this color in our homes, too! This color invokes the feeling of nature within a space (which is also called Biophillia) and promotes healing, tranquility and calmness.Think of the effect taking a walk outside has on you; green can help bring those feelings into your home, too. For application, consider using this color in a child's room as a lighter hue or as a deep forest green in an office or living room.
Beige was the star of the show throughout the 2010’s and still is a go-to color today. Beige is very dependable and does not evoke a strong emotion or effect, which contributes to its widespread popularity. The specific shade of beige you use can impact the space as well. For example, a shade of beige is more on the brown end of the spectrum creates a relaxing environment but may make the space feel smaller. Cooler tones will open the space while not feeling sterile or cold.
In my opinion, yellow is the trickiest color on the spectrum. We can probably all agree that we have seen it used well and also very, very horribly. This color is a make-or-break and can actually have a noticeable impact on a person's mental state. On one hand, a pale yellow will create a calm and cheerful environment in a space. It feels bright, airy and happy. On the other hand, a bold yellow can cause a person to become irritable. It can feel harsh and intrusive. Practically, we don’t recommend using a saturated or bold yellow in a child’s bedroom, place of worship or in spaces where the elderly live.
Grey is similar to beige in that it can take on different meanings depending on its exact shade. We probably could have done this whole blog on how different gray tones affect our psychology! In pop culture, gray is often associated with loss, sadness or depression. But it is also a timeless and practical color that can be interpreted as sophisticated. Light gray with warm tones is seen as soothing and calming -- allowing the “boring” connotation of gray to work in your favor. Dark and cool gray tones are seen as constraining and serious. These tones promote self-discipline and inflexibility. Neither tone is good or bad -- it all depends on the goal of the space.
With every color comes a caveat. Depending on the shade of each color, emotions and reactions can vary. We’re not here to tell you that those bright yellow cabinets you’ve always envisioned will make your house guests irritated, or that your gray office is going to make you sad. We’re here to share some science that could impact your next renovation!
Remember also that rooms are rarely monotone. If you have beige walls in a space decorated with pops of color, no one is going to call it “boring.”
What we place in our homes and spaces reflects who we are and shows our personal expression.There are many ways to introduce color into a space without painting an entire room. We hope this post has been helpful and insightful!