Color Psychology

(Three days after finals ended I started my first summer class, that went for a very quick three weeks in between the fall semester and regular summer semester.  Speech class dominated my life for those three weeks, but at least I got an A and a new blog post out of it. This was built off of the first speech that I gave.)

“That color will be too dark. It will make to room feel small and enclosed.” I remember Mom saying that three years ago. I had started my first big paint job for our house: our kitchen, which had wallpaper above dark wood paneling. (I really didn’t like the wallpaper, but my little sister said she liked it).

I had chosen a brick-red paint to replace the wallpaper.

“It will look fine. There’s enough lighting.” I decided to be stubborn about it, and since it was my project, Mom let me go ahead and paint it what I wanted. (Brave Mom, huh? ;)

First big paint job

In the end, my mother admitted that it looked really good, and the following year I was allowed to painted two of our upstairs bedrooms. When I painted our kitchen, I knew that I wanted it to be red. I felt that was just a good color for a kitchen.

Why is this?

When I started painting the upstairs rooms, I did a little bit of research on the subconscious role that colors play in the “mood” of a room — in other words, the feeling that we have when we’re in a room.

Colors make us feel certain things, whether they are on the wall or anywhere.

(I got a lot of this information from Bloomsburg University, Virtual Training Help Center, or The Color Scheme Bible: Inspirational palettes for designing home interiors by Anna Starmer.)

Around the world, cultures have their own traditions for the meanings of colors.

  1. In China, blue is connected to immortality, while in the Middle East blue is a sign of protection.
  2. In India, red is used for wedding dresses and is a sign of purity
  3. In China, green hats mean that a man’s wife is cheating on him!
  4. In China and France, they think green is a bad color for packaging

Since we each have favorite colors, this too plays a big part in how we feel about colors.

By SantaRose OLD SKOOL

Red is the color that we pay the most attention to. It can cause high blood pressure and is often associated with:

  • Passion
  • Daring
  • Intimacy
  • Comfort

By t3rmin4t0r

Oranges are a lot like red, but more friendly. They:

  • Stimulate creativity
  • Give a warming and cozy feeling
  • Make me think of the University of Illinois

By kevindooly

Yellows are:

  • Welcoming
  • Sunny

By Pink Sherbet Photography

Greens are:

  • Natural
  • Tranquil
  • Invigorating
  • They make a restful and balancing atmosphere

By Diegosaurius Rex

Blues are:

  • Linked to sky and water
  • Meditative
  • They encourage clear thinking and calmness

By *clairity*

Purples are:

  • Stimulating
  • Sexy

Blue Violets are more cooling and spiritual.

Black is the absence of color (scientifically speaking) , and it can invoke anything from feelings of power and sexuality to a sense of evil and depression.

From the room to the color

That is a lot to think about when you are trying to decide what color to paint a room, so I turned it around to think about the room. What a room is used for can help determine its color.

(More information can be found in Debbie Zimmer’s article for Rental Decorating Digest: Color Psychology: The Impact of Paint Color on your Living Space.)

Starting with the kitchen and dining area:

  1. Red will heighten appetite.
  2. Orange and yellow can heighten appetite, too, but not so strongly.
  3. Do NOT paint it blue! It’s an appetite suppressant.
  4. Red can also make for a romantic dining mood.

Living room and family rooms:

Picture by a friend

  1. Blues and greens work very well to create a calm environment.
  2. Yellow will work well, if the room is naturally dark.
  3. Orange works for the living room because it is inviting.
  4. I wouldn’t suggest a very bright color in the same room as the TV, because the color will draw attention to itself.

Bedrooms and kid’s rooms:

  1. Blue and green are excellent colors, since they are relaxing.
  2. A dark red can be very romantic.
  3. Be careful of bright colors because they will keep you awake.
  4. Violet will work for kids, but most adults don’t like this color on the wall.

Other rooms:

  1. Bathrooms can be almost any color. Green and blue can make it a relaxing spa, and brighter colors can make it feel more like a coral reef.
  2. Dark entryways and hallways will seem a lot brighter and more open with a bright yellow.
  3. Studies, libraries, and offices should be a cool color or a brown, which will not distract you.
  4. Susan Kleinman, for HGTV, says

Cover one wall — or even a whole room — in black, and the result can be daring, dramatic and definitely sexy.

Dramatic and Sexy Black Decorating Ideas

But in my opinion, you need to be careful with black, because “dramatic and sexy” can quickly turn to “evil and depressing.”

So what you’re saying is…

To put all of that shortly, cool colors — blues, greens, and grays — are a good choice if you want to relax. Browns are a pleasing, neutral color that won’t distract but can still look classy or modern.  And finally, the warm colors can bring a room to life, wake you up, and speed up your heart, making you feel better.

“But that color is so dark!” It was two years later, and I was now painting the living room for Mom.

New living room color :D

“It will be fine,” I told her. “Remember what you said about the kitchen?”

I had picked a light brown with just a hint of gray. The primary purpose of that room is for reading and watching TV, and, as Mom admitted later, the color created a neutral, warm background that would not try to steal attention away from a good book.

So spend a little time sitting in your room, considering the color swatches you’ve brought home from the store. Think about the feeling you want for that room and what you do in it.

Then grab a paint brush and dare to be dramatic with the colors.

(I thank God for such an amazing Mom that would let me take over painting the house <3)

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  1. And I thank God for such a hard-working and talented daughter. So, which room do you want to do next?

  2. Tiana Fletcher

     /  January 28, 2013

    Hey I was just wondering… is there a way that you can actually become a Color Psychologist?

    • I don’t think there is a profession just for color Psychology unless you get a granter or something to study it at a College or someplace.

      I knew a interior designer who ran into it when she decorated a doctors office, because too bright of colors could cause seizures for some people..

      Normal psychologists might use it some to calm people down… but I’m a chemist, so I know very little of what psychologists do, hehe… :)

  3. How about The Color Red and its Many Meanings?

    • All colors have a lot of meanings that change from country to county. This is just a collection of information on how colors make people feel.

  1. A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That… « Let's Play Math!

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