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Color Psychology: Creating Cause and Effect through Room Color

When you're ready to update a room's décor, one of the easiest and least expensive re-dos is a fresh coat of wall paint. And despite the fact that many folks believe that there are no "right" or "wrong" colors -- just individual stylistic preferences -- even the most independent designers have to admit that's not exactly the case.

The simple truth is that tones and hues in various colors can evoke different feelings and emotions within onlookers and inhabitants, so it is important to give some thought to the end result you're looking for. In other words, your color choice can create different emotional responses in family members and guests in your home.

Here's a bit more on the psychology of room color, some best practices and colors to avoid throughout your spaces.

Warming Up

When you want to spice things up, whet appetites, stimulate conversations or energize neurons and muscles, select interior paint colors from the warm shades of red, orange and yellow.


A good choice for a sitting room, living room or even a formal dining room, red has been known to stir up lively debates and passionate discourse.

But be careful: too much red can quickly change a person's mood from passionate to hostile and the last thing you want during a dinner conversation is for the guests to start "seeing red"!

*Tip: Consider using red sparingly as the color of accent pieces (pillows, frames, etc.) or as a single focal wall with the remaining walls painted in a more neutral color.


Similar to red, orange is associated with increasing blood pressure and energizing those within its presence, thus making it a great choice for a home gym or even a home office if you have a profession that is aided by creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

*Tip: If you're looking for a way to tire out the kids and stimulate their neurons at the same time, paint their playrooms in a shade of orange!


A soft shade of yellow is an excellent selection for a kitchen. When downplayed and neutralized a bit, yellow can be a cheerful color that brightens up a space in the best way.

Yellow, however, is one of those colors that, when overdone or used in too strong a shade, has a tendency to create feelings of irritability, anxiety and tension.

*Tip: If you want to paint your kitchen a neutral color but aren't sure how to jazz it up, mix in bursts of color through food! By scattering bananas, grapes, oranges, berries, tomatoes, lemons and limes around, not only do you have natural pops of pretty goodness, but you've also got a healthy snack (or salad!) to grab on the go.

Cool Colors

In the same way that warm tones heat things up, houses painted in cool colors like blue, green and purple can soothe even the most savage tempers.


Blue is a fantastic color choice for a restful bedroom. And as you can see here, it doesn't even have to be the main wall color to provide a pop of color and a subtle sense of sophistication.
When used as the focal color for a bathroom, blue can evoke a sense of being submerged in water.


For subliminal reinforcement, consider connecting a color to an item. The color green evokes feelings of peace and harmony, so what better paint choice for a pot of soothing tea than a serene shade of green?
And speaking of serenity, can you think of a room where that feeling is more appropriate than in a nursery?

A fantastic choice for baby boys and girls, the color green (in certain shades) is extremely versatile and can be made to look more gender-centric with the addition of accent pieces.

*Tip: If your children share a room, rather than favoring one's choice of room color over the other, paint the walls green and allow each to pick out the decorative accents of their choice to have both of their preferences represented.


Rather than sticking with the eggplant or Barbie doll-esque shades of purple, when leaning toward the gray/silver end of the spectrum, purple in a lavender shade can be a wonderful choice throughout the home. Whether in hallways, living rooms, stairwells or bedrooms, opting for this grayer avenue of a more neutral shade can be a welcome change from the more traditional beige or cream.

What new aspects of color as it relates to psychology will you take into consideration the next time you pick out your wall paint?

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Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area. He is a regular contributor on paint colors and painting tips for the Home Depot website. Jay's interests include helping homeowners pick the right color paint that helps create the style for the room you are remodeling.

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