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The Psychology of Color: 3 Reasons Why it Matters in Your Home

Many years ago (I think before I'd even finished design school), my sister and I decided to paint her bedroom a punchy green. So we bought the paint and got to work.


We woke up the following day with the light shining in on our handiwork and immediately headed back to the paint store! The color was just too high energy for a bedroom, and there was no way it was ever going to feel relaxing. So we repainted in a soothing grayish-blue. I learned a lot of lessons that day, and here are some so that you don't have to make them yourself!

Color matters. The colors you choose influence the way you feel in your home. Interior designers are trained to think about color and how it relates to your mood and energy. We can help you get the feel you want in your home - relaxed, cozy, open, clean, and more, just with color.

1. Find the Right Color with Color Associations




There are some common associations with color. Blue is tranquil and calming, green channels nature, red is an attention grabber, yellow is cheerful, purple is regal, and orange is exciting. I like to think of colors in broad groups. Blues, purples, and greens feel cooler, which also feels quieter. Red, orange, and yellow are warmer, higher energy colors.

All color perception is subjective. If you grew up in a lime green house, you might find it more relaxing than my sister and I did! I've had clients shy away from colors because they're associated with rival sports teams or move towards them because they bring back fond memories of a trip or special place.

2. Color Variations Can Influence Your Mood


One of the confusing things for my kids when they were learning colors in preschool, was the huge variety of hues and tints. How could a mailbox be blue and the sky be blue when they didn't match? There is so much variation between any given color.


I tend to work primarily with lighter colors mixed with more white to read as neutrals in a space. I save highly saturated deeper colors for areas that I want to make pop or feel immersive. If you love a particular color but aren't sure you're ready to live with it on your walls, pull that color into your accents - pillows, rugs, accessories - so you can change it up if you feel the need.

When I work with clients, I ask about colors they love and colors they don't. I also ask to see a client's closet - we buy clothes in colors we love and look flattering on us. So if you're stuck, pull open your closet to see what you gravitate towards the most. Like in my house, I love neutrals - white, navy, black, cream with pops of green and pink.

3. Incorporate Color in Your Home The Right Way


When we work together, I create color palates for clients as part of the design concept of each space. For example, I keep paint colors lighter and brighter in bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens and go darker in dens, powder rooms, and dining rooms.


One thing to consider is how much the walls need to carry the room versus the furnishings and accessories. The walls should be the backdrop in your bedroom as your linens, pillows, art, and furniture are the stars. In a dining room where there's likely a bit less soft furnishings, you can punch up the color.

Colors should all flow through your house (kids’ rooms are the exception - I think kids should be able to choose their colors!) If you're using Benjamin Moore, it's pretty safe to stay within the historic colors palate. It's significantly narrowed down from the whole fan deck, and the colors typically work well together. I also recommend going one shade higher up on the deck than you think, as often, when the paint goes on the wall, it reads darker than it does on the swatch.

My last piece of advice is to swatch or test all the colors before you commit. I know it's an extra step, but each home has slightly different light conditions and existing architecture that you'll need to work around. I promise it's worth the extra work. And if you're stumped, call an interior designer. We live and breathe color and have loads of tried-and-true paint colors at the ready.



When your home feels right, life gets a little less stressful. You can do this! Paint is an easy way to transform the feel of your home, so pick a room and give it a try.

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Cheers,

Carol