Skip to Content

Set the Mood with Color

When choosing to redecorate a home or decorating a new space for the first time, one of the first decisions to make is the color palette. Often décor is a reflection of one's personality and tastes, but color choices can also communicate moods and ambience. Many believe in color psychology, which explains that certain colors create or align with different moods and feelings; for example, reds can be stimulating and blues can be calming.

It's important to consider the room's use and what colors create the ideal setting for that purpose. Bedrooms should feel warm and cozy in order to calm the mind after long days and create optimum sleeping conditions. Home offices should establish a setting of productivity. Kitchens should feel inviting and clean. Just choosing the right colors can convey all of those feelings and foster a welcoming environment.

Color Theory

While there is a basic rubric in color psychology that can aid in choosing colors, the choice is a personal one. A University of Georgia study, "The Relationship Between Color and Emotion," showed that feelings evoked by certain colors can relate to good or bad memories and that certain colors had both positive and negative associations based on a person's own experiences.

Blue, for example, is most often thought to evoke feelings of calmness, serenity and even cleanliness, due to its associations with water. But researchers also found that some associated blue with feelings of sadness. Additionally, red can be passionate and stimulating, but also related to anger and rage. Finding a good balance between set colors and personal taste can be tricky, but worth the effort. The following tips will aid in finding a color that's right for specific rooms.

Warm Colors

Warm colors are often characterized as stimulating, energizing, and uplifting; because of this, they are ideal for dining rooms and living rooms, where families most often gather.

Red is often selected for dining areas for it's energetic quality. It can stir excitement and stimulate conversation. Orange activates creativity and is a great choice for a home office, artist studio or exercise room. In ancient cultures, orange was believed to increase energy and even heal the lungs. Yellow, with its association to sunshine, is uplifting and said to increase happiness. It is great for kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. It can also make small spaces feel more roomy and welcoming. However, it is not suggested as a main color choice for your home, as it can create feelings of frustration and anger.

The University of Georgia researchers found that certain hues of colors brought to mind different things. Darker reds, muted oranges and golden shades can add autumnal flair to a home, while a bright orange and lighter yellow could evoke springtime.

Cool Colors

Cool colors like blues and greens are frequently chosen as part of color palettes for bedroom and guest rooms because of their associations with calmness and relaxation.

Blue, according to FreshHome is said to bring down blood pressure and heart rate. Considered calming and serene, it can be used in bedrooms or bathrooms. Warmer blues can be used in family spaces like the living rooms and large kitchens. Turquoise, in any shade is a bolder choice from the cool color family. It pairs well with sandy and ivory colors to bring beachy vibes to your home. Green relaxes the eye. It is serene, like blue, while maintaining the energy of yellow. It's dual nature makes it well-suited for any room in the house. Research from the University of Georgia also showed that most green shades were pleasing to a large number of people, because of the color's association with nature. Darker shades that might not be suited as a wall color can be incorporated into furniture or accent pieces. Paler greens can be a "lively neutral" that can be a base for any number of color combinations.

Choosing a Hue can make a room feel smaller. These aren't good choices for bathrooms or small rooms because they can the room can seem closed in, drab, and claustrophobic. Lighter Blue and Green are airy and clean, associated with the ocean and cool, calming waters. These colors are ideal for any sized bathroom to communicate both refreshing and relaxing feelings.

Neutral Colors

If painting walls a bright color seems alarming, or isn't part of the rental agreement, neutral colors are a great way to subtly shift the mood of a room (and are easy to paint over). Some prefer bright, pure white walls, while others tend toward warmer ivory, gray or brown. Browns and Creams are cozy and inviting and pair well with a natural aesthetic. Combined with greens, browns work well to establish a room in tune with nature and are a great backdrop for houseplants. As with other colors mentioned, steer clear of going too dark on walls, especially in small spaces. Gray can be drab and institutional or cool and sophisticated. Silvery gray is a great choice for a living room or bedroom if the furnishings are more traditional and formal, giving off an aura of class and style.

Have a Cohesive Color Concept

Color can affect your mood if used properly, but keeping personal preferences in mind is also important. Consider the flow of the house as a whole; try to choose colors that complement each other to produce a holistic theme for the entire home. After you've chosen your color, don't make drastic decisions! It's always a good idea to bring home paint chips from the hardware store, or purchase small sample-size paint cans to test the color on your walls. If you're not painting the walls but choosing a new accent color, start incorporating the items in one by one so you get a feel for the color before you replace all your items. It can seem daunting at first due to the vast selection of colors available in paint shades to accessories, but by applying some simple color psychology it's easy to create just the right mood for any room.