Color has Power
Repainting your home’s interior is no small, thoughtless task. The right colors can improve your mental health, and encourage your family and visitors to enjoy themselves more, sleep better, and study harder.
In Western interior design, color has always been a matter of architecture and ornamentation. Paint or plaster is chosen to complement certain design features and to satisfy those prevalent folk design doctrines, such as “white makes a room look bigger” or “long curtains make a ceiling look taller.
However, there is real science backing up the idea that different colors elicit different emotional and physical reactions. Read this brief room by room breakdown to see which colors are best for the different rooms of your house.
Modern Color Psychology
It’s long been known by advertisers and marketers that different colors promote different emotional reactions and thus can influence the consumer. It is the classic woman in a red dress advertisement – red activates the central nervous system, increasing blood flow and heart rate. Check out some of the groundbreaking scientific research used as a basis for this article here.
So, how can we take this science and apply it to our homes?
Painting to Optimize Health and Wellbeing
To take advantage of color psychology, you should match the primary purpose of each room to the color that helps support its function. No single color works well for every room. You wouldn’t want a color that makes you feel hungry in your bedroom, or a color that promotes conversation in your private study.
A bedroom is a place for sleep and romance. The best paint colors for encouraging deep sleep and a sensual atmosphere are darker shades of blue. Psychologists say it promotes rest, relaxation, and an overall sense of well-being. Interior decorators often claim it has even more effects, like helping to lower blood pressure. While it’s unlikely that looking at a certain paint has any medicinal effect, there is certainly a middle ground: if you are more relaxed, chronic conditions tied to stress, like high blood pressure and arthritis, might also improve.
There are two schools of thought on painting a kitchen. Invoking Freudian psychology, some experts suggest that you should try to match the colors of a kitchen where you felt happy in your early years, like your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen. The mix of modern styling and a familiar color can invoke a pleasant nostalgic feeling as you saute and bake. This is great for your mental health.
According to advocates of color psychology, paint your kitchen in warm shades of yellow or lighter red. These colors have been used by the restaurant industry for decades, and it’s a well known (though not well understood) fact that these colors encourage people to eat more and rate their food higher.
The color you pick for your primary living room should depend on how you intend to use it. Is it mainly a relaxation space, a place to kick up your feet and read a book and watch a movie after a long day at work? Then your best bet is a shade of white. Pure white is a neutral color, relaxing and calming. It doesn’t imply or encourage anything, and that’s just what you want in a relaxation space.
Warmer shades can be encouraging, while cooler shades can be used to create a “museum effect”. Done well, it can naturally draw attention to artwork or statuary on display. Done poorly, cool white just looks sterile and boring.
If your living room is more of an entertainment space than a relaxation space, earth tones are the way to go. They have been shown to encourage conversation, and as a practical benefit, hide scuffs better than light colors in a high-traffic entertainment room.
Home Office or Library
Color psychology can also be an important part of creating a great work or research space. If you do business from home, you don’t want a color that promotes sleepiness, hunger, or chattiness–you want a color that helps keep you focused, while also reducing stress.
One of the optimal colors for this is green. The right shade of green evokes nature and naturally calms you, allowing focus and precision in your work. To take full advantage of the “working in a forest” effect, add some potted plants and natural wood furniture instead of metal or glass, and arrange your work station to either be near a window for natural light, or well-illuminated with soft, indirect lighting. In this case, a standing torch-style lamp is much better for this than a desk lamp.
Don’t Forget Good Lighting
To optimize the use of color psychology, you need to pair it with natural professional-grade lighting. Not all rooms have windows or location for consistent sunlight. When planning electric lighting, it’s almost always better to choose diffused area lighting over bright task lighting or naked bulbs.
In a large room, task lighting creates an unpleasant “cave effect” where one spot is brightly illuminated and the other is very dark. It forces your eyes to frequently readjust and can lead to eye strain and migraines. Color temperature matters too. Fluorescent and cool-white LEDs are meant for hospitals and warehouses; they make your home look sterile. Warm white LEDs are the best lighting for a healthy, comfortable home.
Avoid Blue LED Lights in Bedrooms
Blue light causes alertness and should be kept out of the bedrooms. According to scientists, immersing oneself in blue light after dark disturbs our circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep.
Pick Up That Roller!
You can make the most out of your living space by painting it the colors that have been proven to influence and affect the body and mind. This is one area where design and science walk hand in hand – helping your home to look good and feel good as well.
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes on behalf of Pizzazz Painting.