Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Show notes from my NEW Podcast, Blooming! A Healthy Home by Design Episode 07: Using the Psychology of Color in Your Home
In this episode we are going to talk about the psychology of color and how we can use color in our homes to affect our mood. We’ll discuss how to select beautiful colors to inspire us and our families so that our home environment supports us getting a restful nights sleep or supports our home work/study environment or how it can even help increase or decrease our appetites! Amazing right? Color can do that.
Marketers have understood this for years and having been using color to influence our buying decisions. Artists use color to invoke emotions and designers use color as way of influencing the overall feelings when we enter a space. It’s pretty amazing but color affects the reptilian part of our brain - that subconscious flight or flight response part that you don’t ever really think about. Certain colors can amplify our feelings of calm, trust, energy, stability, happiness, peace, and even independence. It’s no wonder that choosing the right colors that we surround ourselves with daily is so important. It can help create a nurturing environment for our family and a place that we love coming home to.
So first let’s talk about the rainbow and what each color represents. As you listen think about your home and notice if you use any of these colors in certain rooms or in your furnishings and accessories. Do they support the environment you are trying to create for your family? Do you notice if any of these associated feelings hold true?
RED is associated with energy, speed, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion desire and love. It attracts attention more than any other color. at a Biological level - Red can enhance human metabolism, increase respiration rate and raise blood pressure and has even been shown to increase appetite. Because this is such a bold statement, it’s best to use red sparingly and to use it in accessories or accents. Some people paint their dining room walls red - and now you know that the dining room is a good place to use red if you are wanting to promote eating! If you are on a diet, then maybe not! lol
Orange is associated with joy and sunshine. It’s also a social color combining the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It stimulates feelings of enthusiasm, happiness, creativity, determination, encouragement, success, attraction and socialization. Orange is a perfect color to use in accessories or accent furniture pieces. It works especially well in kids play rooms since it promotes socialization.
Yellow is the happiest color. It is associated with positive energy, warmth, cheerfulness, intelligence. It stimulates mental activity and generates muscle energy. When overused however, it can cause anxiety and stress. Interestingly, babies have been known to cry more in yellow rooms.
Green represents growth, vitality, harmony and freshness. Biologically the color green is said to have healing power and is considered beneficial to the mind and body because it promotes a calming effect and slows metabolism. It suggests stability, endurance, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, and truth. Use this color throughout your home if you like! I think because green is the color of plants -it feels like a neutral color because it really does go with so many other colors. And I love bringing this color in by using house plants actually - I did a whole episode on plants and the benefits they provide in Episode 3: The Extraordinary Power of Plants so check that out if you’d like.
Blue- There might be a reason that if you surveyed a large group of people you will find that the majority says blue is their favorite color. Maybe it's because blue represents uniqueness and authenticity. It also is associated with warmth, communication, and compassion. Blue is sincere, it’s idealistic and our minds relate blue to integrity and peace. It’s a color that sparks imagination which means it could be a great choice for a study or library. Blues also remind us of water. It’s soothing and powerful at the same time, but it can sometimes be associated with sadness. Depending on the shade it’s so versatile and can be used throughout your home.
Purple - combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. It is associated with wisdom, dignity, creativity, mystery and magic. It also symbolizes power, luxury, and nobility. Deep rich hues can be a powerful statement for a formal room in your home while lighter hues are calming and pair well with grays and oranges.
White represents goodness, innocence, positivity and light. Safety, purity and cleanliness is also associated with white. White also is the color of faith and new beginnings. We also associate white with heaven. White interiors can feel fresh and modern, light and bright. But it’s incredibly important to layer textures when using white because without them it can easily feel cold and empty.
Black is a prestigious color when used in the home. It’s very formal, elegant and powerful. It makes a statement. It’s also times and chic. But because black also represents death, evil, mystery and grief it’s important to use this powerful color with intent as too much of this color can become overwhelming.
Gray is subdued, subtle and it doesn’t want to stand out, it fades in the background. Gray can be calming but too much of it can be associated with depression or sadness. The popularity of gray has skyrocketed recently and you’ll find this color can be very neutral and works well as the main color of a room or as an accent.
Brown represents reliability and strength. It is grounding probably because it reminds us of trees and roots. Brown is grounding and feels safe. I love brown maybe because it’s such a natural color and there are so many different shades and tones of brown that it’s a neutral that works in every room. Using wood, leather and natural elements instantly warm up the space and can make your room feel homier and more inviting.
Pink adds a touch of feminine flair mixing the purity of white with the passion and love of red. It’s softer and younger innocent version of red. This is a perfect color to use in a girls nursery or bedroom.
So now that you’ve learned a little bit about color and how it influences us emotionally. you might be wondering, How can I apply this in my home?
Here’s some basic unofficial Color rules I live by:
If you are simple like me, choose to add pops of color in your accessories like pillows, accent furnishings and use different textures in similar shades to create a layered look. And just a side note on pillows - don’t match all your pillows. Mixing 2-3 different patterned pairs looks fabulous. 3-5 pillows on an 84” sofa is pretty standard.
Bright, patterned pillows and throws look great on darker sofas. On lighter sofas, I prefer pillows that have a similar tone in the background and then color in the pattern or trim.
Don’t go overboard with color. If you paint an accent wall a vibrant color, all you need is 2-3 accessories in the room to tie it all together. Think 1-3 throw pillows, a bowl or candle holder or some sort of small ceramic accent evenly spaced around the room can easily give you the feeling with out being overdone or too powerful. Too much of a good thing can easily become something you tire of quickly.
Always sit a darker sofa on a lighter rug or a lighter sofa on a slightly darker rug. The contrast is much more visually appealing and feels balanced.
Paint rooms using a dark color if you want the room to feel cozy, compact or smaller. Think dim-lit dining room with tons of ambiance for those special evening dinners or events. Use lighter colors if you want to make the room feel large and spacious. Never paint a ceiling stark bright white - it’s very builder grade and looks infinitely better if you use a warmer white mix a warmer white with a tone you have on the walls so it feels balanced. If you want white walls, choose a warmer white than you think and if you paint your trim the same color and ceilings the same color -it will feel fresh clean and airy and appear white, but it won’t be stark or cold which is what happens if the white you choose is too cold or bright.
It’s ok to mix wood colors and metal colors. I think it actually looks better than to have everything in the room a perfect match. It adds more dimension and interest. Just be sure the tone of the colors don’t clash and i wouldn’t do more than 3 if you can help it. For example, I just got a grayish wood dining table and the color clashes a little bit with the hardwood floors and windows in my dining room because they have some orange coming though. But in my kitchen I have a darker table so I switched them out and it looks perfect now. The darker wood tone of my old table looks great in the dining room and since i just painted my kitchen a warm grey color and the floors are a beige marble tile, the grey wood looks great. And pairing it with the chairs that have dark legs from my other table looks really good too!
If you aren’t quite sure how to mix colors just look outside for inspiration. Color is abundant in nature every where you look, so if you pay attention to those combinations you know they will work in your home. For instance, blues/greens/teals and beige, cream or white look fabulous because they subconsciously remind us of the beach. Warm tones of reds, coppers, yellows browns pair well with deep greens, warm creams, ivory, browns - these are all the fall colors we see outside.
Pale versions of blues, greens, purples and grays are all calming colors and are great to use to promote a restful nights sleep. Lively colors like orange and yellow, sherbets and citrus colors are great as accent colors that promote socialization and happiness. Use these in rooms you want for conversation or play or any rooms you spend time in during the day.
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to experiment a little. You can start with bold accessories and live with those first and see how they make you feel. Make choices that light you up and make you feel good. Search through Pinterest and create mood boards then stand back and look to see what colors you are drawn to. Take some inspiration from your closet - what clothes do you wear most often? Blacks whites grays are you a minimalist at heart? Or do you love color. Designing your home interiors isn’t too different from fashion, it’s just fashion for your home! And now that you know how you can influence your mood and behaviors from colors, see if you can promote the behaviors you want to see in yourself or your family members by using color psychology in your home.
I hope you found this episode helpful and informative! If you loved it, please share it with a friend and leave a comment or review. I appreciate it so much! If you want to learn more you can find me on instagram and facebook @luxlivingsocal or shoot me an email - I’d love to hear from you! I’m SheilaAlston@luxlivingsocal.com