Color and Interior Design Part I: Color Psychology

Color and Interior Design Part I: Color Psychology

When you’re creating a color scheme for your home it can be tempting to jump in and start picking your favorite colors. However, it’s better to take the time to think about how you’ll be using your space and the mood you want to create. Do you want it to be calming? Energizing? Cheerful? The colors you use in your space can help evoke these feelings.

Because of our psychology and cultural associations, colors have different effects on our moods. Broadly speaking, reds, oranges, and yellows provide feelings of warmth and energy while greens, blues, and purples tend to create feelings of coolness and calm. Beyond this, these are the feelings generally considered to be associated with each color:

Red color swatchRed: Associated with love, energy, excitement, intensity, and warmth. Also known to increase the appetite, making it a good choice for kitchens.

Orange color swatchOrange: Evokes excitement, innovation, optimism, warmth, and attention. Can be overwhelming in large amounts.

Yellow color swatchYellow: Inspires happiness, laughter, warmth, and optimism.

Green color swatchGreen: Tied to nature, health, growth, tranquility, and harmony.

Blue color swatchBlue: Linked to calmness, serenity, wisdom, loyalty, and truth. Known to decrease the appetite, making it a poor choice for kitchens.

Purple color swatchPurple: Identified with loyalty, luxury, mystery, spirituality, respect, and prosperity.

Brown color swatchBrown: Correlates to nature, reliability, warmth, and comfort.

Black color swatchBlack: Signifies authority, power, strength, intelligence, sleek, and modernity.

White color swatchWhite: Connotes purity, innocence, cleanliness, spaciousness, and neutrality.

Now that you know the associations and feelings different colors evoke, you’re ready to use the knowledge to guide your choice of color scheme. Relaxing blues and greens are excellent choices for a bedroom or study because of their association with tranquility. Stimulating reds, oranges, and yellows create an intimate feel and are good choices for kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms. If you wanted to bring a luxurious feel to your master bedroom, a rich purple would be just the ticket, while a white-and-black living room would feel modern.

It’s also worth noting that the lightness or darkness of a color (the color’s value) affects the way a space feels. Lighter colors visually recede, which can make a space feel larger and more open. Darker colors visually advance, making a space feel smaller and more intimate. You can use this to your advantage by painting a smaller room with a light color and using lighter colored furniture to make the room seem more spacious or painting your ceilings with a lighter color to make them seem higher. Conversely, a darker wall color can make a large space feel cozier instead of cavernous. If you want to embrace your room’s size a dark color in a smaller room like a bathroom can make it feel comfortably snug while a light color can make a large room like a living room feel like it goes on for miles.

Whether you choose to use an airy sage green to make a soothing bedroom retreat or a deep burgundy to give your dining room a cozy atmosphere, understanding which colors evoke which feelings makes it easy to choose colors that work with your intent for your space.

If you're looking for more color inspiration, check out our Pinterest board »