Skillful interior decorating is largely an artistic endeavor, but there’s some science involved also, and none more important than having an understanding of the psychology of color.
Yes, color psychology really is a science, and an important one at that. It can help you choose paint colors that create the right mood in a room, affecting not just your own feelings, but those of everyone who enters. Paint color is so powerful, in fact, that it can influence not just our state of mind, but our psychology as well.
In support of that point, history tells us that the ancient Egyptians, as well as the Native Americans, used color to heal. If so, it’s likely that they favored blues and greens, colors that have an emotional association with peace, calm, harmony, and tranquility.
Blue, which often ranks at the top of surveys exploring “favorite” colors, can actually slow the pulse rate, lower body temperature, and reduce appetite. As far as paint is concerned, the implications are obvious: blue is a terrific color choice for bedrooms, less so for dining rooms.
Green, also one of the most popular colors, is a little more versatile. While it, too, has a soothing, calming effect (hence, it’s predominance in hospitals), it also is the color of nature. As such, it represents renewal, youth, and vigor. Bottom line: Because it is calming, green paint is a good color choice for bedrooms, and because it is the color of so many vegetables and other foods, it can work in dining rooms, too.
There’s no equivocation with red. It bespeaks energy and excitement, actually raising the blood pressure and making the heart beat a little faster. Because it is aligned with desire and passion, it’s a perfect paint color for dining rooms and adult bedrooms, but wrong for children’s rooms. Yet, ironically, pink – a very light tint of red – is one of the most calming colors, and is a fine choice for a baby’s room.
Yellow is a great interior paint color. Like sunshine, it imparts happiness, hope, and optimism. Studies have shown that the brain actually releases more serotonin when the eye takes in yellow – creating positive psychological vibes. Yellow can even stir our creative juices. What better color to use in a master bath or dinette to get your day off on the right foot?
Orange is a happy color, too. More attention-getting than yellow, orange has an energy and warmth about it. But it pays to be careful with orange. Muddy shades are useful in many parts of the home, but vivid tones may appear raw and flamboyant. Orange is clearly not the color of calm, so it’s best to bypass it when painting a bedroom or any other area where you want to relax.
Purple is a tricky paint color wherever it’s used, but it’s the overwhelming favorite of adolescent girls. Reserve use of this paint color for your daughter’s room to create a win-win situation: Odds are, she’ll love it, and you can take comfort in purple’s proven ability to stimulate brain activity.
No discussion of paint color would be complete without mentioning the “non-colors”, black (the absence of light, and thus, color) and white (the confluence of all the colors in the spectrum).
Black is a great accent color indoors or out, imparting elegance, formality, and sophistication to a paint color scheme. But don’t get carried away with it. Too much black can be morose and depressing.
White, on the other hand, conveys peace, simplicity, spaciousness, and cleanliness. It can provide a crisp finish to almost any paint job by adding sharp contrast to the wall color. Used throughout a room on walls and woodwork, it can give the illusion that the space is bigger than its physical dimensions.
Color psychology is an important consideration when selecting an interior paint scheme, but it’s only part of the puzzle. Even subtle nuances of tint or shade can alter the impact on our psyche. Then there’s the elephant in the room, so to speak: our personal color preference.
No one will spend more time in your home than you will, so it’s important to please yourself when painting. Choose colors that you love and you won’t go wrong.