How Color Affects Your Rooms and Moods

Updated on September 30, 2018
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Color plays a key role in interior design. It triggers emotions and can create a specific mood or an extension of personality. Incorporating color in the home is a delicate balance of art and science. It is important to understand color’s psychological effects and how to use it in design theory.

Certain colors in a room can provoke feelings such as joy, surprise, drama, peacefulness, zeal or passion. While some people react differently to a color, for the most part we tend to respond similarly to the same colors. At least we know everyone reacts to color no matter age, ethnicity, traditions and experiences. As a general rule these colors can create just the right mood for each room in your home.

People tend to gravitate toward colors that reflect their personalities. Type A personalities might lean in the direction of warm reds or oranges. An introvert could feel more at ease in a room with cool tones. Many of us choose current color trends rather than simply picking our favorite colors like children do. Interior designers and color consultants skillfully combine color trends with their clients’ preferences to create a comfortable and stylish home.

1. Black

In many cultures black is associated with mortality and malevolence. Luckily, it has positive attributes like wisdom, formality, elegance and mystery. In interior design theory, black is commonly used as an accent color that contrasts with many other hues. When used sparingly it is stylish and timeless. If done correctly a room painted in black can actually look stunning.

If you are brave enough to paint your walls black you know it is all or nothing. Painting a single accent wall just doesn’t look right. The color needs to completely envelop the room to establish a sense of drama. If you think inky walls are depressing, use a lighter paint color paired with black accessories and fabrics to elevate the mood. Accents of black combined with warm woods and metallic objects exude warmth and richness.

Black walls and furnishings create a stylish cocoon-like environment.
Black walls and furnishings create a stylish cocoon-like environment. | Source

2. Blue

If you aren’t aware, blue is a significant color among interior designers. It’s a color of great depth and perception. It is seen as an indicator of security, order, stability and reliability. Subtle blues are perfectly suited for personal spaces. Shades of blue give off a cool vibe and a Zen-like quality. While soothing, blue gives a sense of calm but dark blue can create a melancholy mood for some.

Warm shades of blue with hints of red tend to come toward you making the room feel engaging. These shades are best for gathering spaces like the kitchen, dining or living room. Cool blues recede, which can make a room feel larger. Serene blue colors like aqua, turquoise or periwinkle work well in a master bedroom, home office or bathroom.

Sea blue gives this luxurious bathroom a coastal feel.
Sea blue gives this luxurious bathroom a coastal feel. | Source

3. Purple

This regal color offers a dignified and dramatic presence when used on walls or upholstery. Purple is a sign of abundance, nobility and health. It is a calming influence that relates to spirituality and mental perception. Purple ranges from bright violet to soft lavender.

Whether you decide to blanket the room with color or use it as accents, purple will certainly make a big impression. Most other colors work with varying shades of purple to create a stately color palette. Purple pairs beautifully with jewel tones and looks equally good with lighter colors such as soft yellow, pastel pink or white.

The contrast of white accents against purple walls make for a classic bedroom.
The contrast of white accents against purple walls make for a classic bedroom. | Source

4. Beige

Beige is perfection as it takes on the characteristics of other colors in a room. If beige is the only color in a space it if often considered bland and washed out. However, it can be a solid choice as a background or secondary color. Red, gray, brown and black mix well with this uncomplicated hue.

Beige is sometimes referred to as tan, fawn, cream, taupe or ivory. Shades of beige are considered constant, traditional and adaptable. Beige soothes the nerves and has a calming effect. It allows you to have fun with accessories in cool or warm tones. You have the ability to easily transform your neutral room’s mood by switching out accent colors on a whim.

Layering differing shades of beige provides depth and warmth.
Layering differing shades of beige provides depth and warmth. | Source

5. Green

Green is the color of the great outdoors. It is a sign of luck, abundance and hope. Like blue it is a cool friendly color that pairs well with a variety of other colors. Green looks crisp and clean with white accents. Emerald, mint, lime or even chartreuse adds elegance and charm to any room in your home.

Green is the most popular color representing environmental causes and feels alive within its many different shades. From fern to sage, most greens are refreshing and trendy. If you’re looking for compatible colors choose the ones right next to green on the color wheel. Emerald blends with subtle greens and a mix of various blues to create a restful and cool quality.

An entry saturated in green is verdant beauty.
An entry saturated in green is verdant beauty. | Source

6. White

White is a heavenly hue widely used in interior design. It symbolizes faith, goodness, light and innocence. Use it anywhere inside the house. White colors create the illusion of larger spaces when used in a small room. Rooms dressed in white feel fresh and lively. Pair it with black for a graphic effect.

This flexible neutral plays well with a variety of color palettes and decor styles. If done the right way it can hardly be considered bland and sterile. White is associated with cleanliness so it is a good color for kitchens. White walls, tile, cabinets and countertops look great with warm wood accents and flooring.

Use lots of white in kitchens and bathrooms for a fresh and clean appearance.
Use lots of white in kitchens and bathrooms for a fresh and clean appearance. | Source

7. Red

Red is a potent color that expresses intense passion, anger and power. Bright reds are visually and mentally stimulating. Vibrant red in a bedroom is not a restful color and should be avoided if you want a good night’s sleep. Shades like cinnabar or cranberry radiate a warm and welcoming embrace. Some reds can stimulate appetite, which is why this color is used in dining rooms and restaurants.

Employ reds as accents from pillows and art pieces to walls and upholstery. Pops of red around the room helps move the eye to other objects and furnishings. Red accents are designed attract, captivate and tempt without being overwhelming. Small foyers and guest bathrooms draped in red create an exquisite jewel box environment.

Rich reds inject a lively and warm atmosphere to any room.
Rich reds inject a lively and warm atmosphere to any room. | Source

8. Brown

Brown is a mixture of the primary colors red, yellow and blue. That’s why almost every color goes with brown. Any shade of brown can make a room feel cozy and welcoming. It is the perfect color for the living room, bedroom or dining room.

This rich color is associated with nature and gives your interior a rustic feel especially when paired with green. Deep and muted tones of brown suggest a serious and sophisticated environment. Whether light or dark, brown can make you feel secure, grounded and content.

Brown is a grounding color that can be sophisticated, rustic or traditional
Brown is a grounding color that can be sophisticated, rustic or traditional | Source

9. Orange

If you shy away from red you might want to consider a rich orange. Orange is a happy and enjoyable color that works in virtually any room in the house. It represents bravery and generosity making family and guests feel full of life and sociable.

Orange gives your home a boost just like vitamin C. It is the perfect antidote to boring and drab. Whether it's terracotta or a vivid tangerine, orange will infuse your home’s style with a burst of energy. When coupled with crisp white or soft gray any orange looks fresh and contemporary.

Orange works with traditional, modern, old world or rustic decor.
Orange works with traditional, modern, old world or rustic decor. | Source

10. Yellow

Yellow is the color of affection, intelligence, wealth and empathy. A room painted in bold yellow looks cheery and inviting. Pastel yellows echo the coming of spring and golden tones reflect autumn's cozy warmth. Keep flamboyant yellows to a minimum unless you feed off invigorating colors.

A living room full of natural light is the perfect match for a backdrop of rich yellow. This sunshine color works equally well with traditional or rustic furnishings. Throw in peach, blue and crimson accents to add depth and a classic appeal.

Yellow rooms keep things cheerful year-round.
Yellow rooms keep things cheerful year-round. | Source

11. Pink

The color pink is a version of light red and is typically associated with romance. It is linked to young memories of sweet confections and innocence. Pink is strongly connected to femininity, which is often thought as nurturing, gentle and compassionate. Pastel pink has a calming effect but can cause a restless feeling if the shade is too intense.

It is a whimsical color and it works well with other hues like rich teal, dove gray and rusty orange. If you inject too much pink into a room it’s best to use a neutral to keep it from appearing too childish. Adding modern furnishings can take a pink room from bubblegum to glamorous.

With trendy furniture a pink room can actually look modern.
With trendy furniture a pink room can actually look modern. | Source

12. Gray

Gray was considered the color of formality. Today almost any style is compatible with this popular color. It is an intermediary color between black and white. Gray conveys neutrality and lack of any particular emotion or sensation but is pleasing to the eye. In the hands of design experts gray can be a powerful decorating tool.

It is a great choice for rooms that require focus and calm such as a den, bedroom or office. Consider pairing gray with black and white. Add a single warm or cool color to make an impressive design statement. You can use gray alone to project a modern and edgy vibe or timeless and classic elegance.

Gray works on its own and pairs with cool and warm secondary colors.
Gray works on its own and pairs with cool and warm secondary colors. | Source

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    © 2018 Linda Chechar

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