…and how does that make you feel?

“What color do you think I should paint my…”

Honestly?  How the hell should I know… I’m an interior designer, not a psychologist.  That’s not entirely true.  Oh no, I’m not a psychologist but I am able to help you.

Color psychology is a feeling or effect that is evoked by a color and is different from color symbolism which is primarily the use of color as a symbol.  For example, the color red symbolizes danger, blood, war, sex and many others.  Green symbolizes money, good luck, generosity, jealousy… 

 Although I don’t really focus on the symbolism of colors too much, I do think that certain colors do work better for certain situations or rooms.  Think about having a really tough day at work and then a terrible commute and coming home to unwind in a red room.  Hey, if you do walk into a red room, I’m not criticizing your color choice – I’m just painting a picture of someone who clearly needs to relax and kick back but is immediately accosted by RED.  The color that evokes aggression, speed, and danger to name a few.  That room should probably be in the green, blue, pink or brown family. 

There have been

“…an increasing number of studies linking colors to specific responses. One study found that weight-lifters have more powerful performances in blue rooms. Another study found that babies cry more frequently in yellow rooms. Yet another used “Pepto Bismol pink”, to calm prisoners. Color consultants believe that the colors used in the design of environment can have a significant impact on the emotions and performance of people within that environment.” -wikipedia.org

I’ve been doing some investigating online to see what the psychology of colors are because I’m thinking we are going to need to redo our bathroom soon. Our poop brown, sage and beige bathroom.  I picked brown before I knew it evokes warmth, comfort and security – I chose it because I liked it.  And because it went with the weirdly off white tiles that were in there when we bought the place. 

Here are some of the things I found:


Evokes:  energy, warmth, comfort, strong emotions, intensity.  Red is a great accent color.  Less is more with red on walls – pick one wall or area. Oh, and when painting a red wall  – use a grey or tinted primer.  If you use white you’ll get that candy red color instead of the dark red that’s on the paint chip. Red is a really important color in the practice of feng shui.


Evokes: happiness, energy, warmth, cheerfulness


Evokes: cheer, optimism.  Yellow should be used carefully in that too much yellow or intense yellow has the ability to evoke anger, frustration and high tempers.  It’s a popular choice in new babies room but make sure it’s a soft yellow because studies have shown that babies cry more in bright yellow rooms.


Evokes: peace, tranquility, health, calm, well placed energy; said to improve reading ability and fertility.


Evokes: peace, restfulness, confidence, calmness, serenity, security.  It is said that people are most productive in blue rooms and that blue can lower your heart rate and body temperature.  However, blue is associated with depression and certain shades of blue can send a “cold and uncaring message”. Unfortunately, I haven’t a clue which ones they are yet.  I also read that if you’re trying to lose weight that eating off a blue plate helps since it is one of the least appetizing colors. Pssst, it doesn’t work – we use blue plates…


Evokes: serenity, peace, balance, uplifting, offers a sense of spirituality, boosts imagination and creativity.


Evokes: happiness, tranquility. It’s not as bold as red, but bright pinks can act like red in a way evoking action or aggression.  Pink used in prisons worked at calming prisoners… initially. Exposure to pink over a long period of time made the inmates more agitated once they became accustomed to it.  Another study said that in some sport stadiums, the visiting team locker rooms are painted pink to induce a calmness and give the home team an advantage.


 Evokes: warmth, comfort, security, friendliness, stability.


Is a color associated with authority, power and strength. Seriously, don’t paint your room black.  Black is a great furniture color and accent color –  too much is overwhelming – like the walls are coming in at you.


Evokes: peace, purity, innocence, sterility, emptiness.  Benjamin Moore has over 140 shades of white in their paint color palette which is funny to me because most people want to paint their walls a color other than white. 


Evokes: unsettled and expectant feelings.  Interesting, I read that too much grey leads to feelings of nothingness.  A good background color.

SO.  Thats what I got from tooling around the internet investigating color psychology.  Even though these colors have a direct effect on emotions, I wouldn’t change an entire room because of them. Wall color can be balanced with the color of objects in the room… but that’s a whole other post.  Haven’t decided what color to use in the bathroom yet, but it does give me a lot to think about.  If anyone can think of some other things these colors can do …or not do for you, let me know!

Check out some of the sites I investigated:

www.precisionintermedia.com, wikipedia.org, and squidoo.com

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