Psychology of Color in Interior Design

People tend to think of their home’s color palette as a pretty accessory. But the colors they choose have a real impact on work, play, and life in general. The psychology of color is one of my passions, and I want to share some insights with you today.
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I’m a Dewey-certified color specialist and part of earning that specialization included studying how color affects us on the deepest level. Choosing the color palette for your home can energize you, or make you anxious. It can soothe, or stimulate. It all depends on the colors and combinations.
Let’s take a closer look at the psychology of color!

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Blue colors tend to be soothing, like other earth colors—this is the color of the sky. Blues make people feel calm. It’s also a cool color, so it will bring your perceived temperature down.
Blues are a great choice for any room where you want serenity, like a master bedroom and bathrooms. As is true with all colors, the more saturated the color, the more the psychological effect.


As another earth color, green is also calming—think grassy lawns and trees with their summer leaves. It’s also the symbol of money, so it might make your heart beat a little faster. You’ll see a lot of greens in hospitals and healthcare, as well as blues. A light green, like in the bedroom below, makes for a relaxing space.
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Red is a powerful color, one which will make a person’s heart rate accelerate and appetite increase—there’s a reason we see it in restaurants. It also gets reflexes ready to react, so it’s used on stop signals and warning signs. Reds can cause a sense of restlessness, so this is not a color you want to use a lot of in someplace like a bedroom.
Red front doors are very popular with feng shui because it symbolizes good luck. A red front door gives it a pop of color, which is totally different than something like a red wall in a living room.


Orange is similar to red, but with yellow in it. It can also accelerate the heart rate and increase appetite, but not as powerfully as red—it’s a little more subdued. Pairing orange with a soothing color like blue can also mitigate any negative effects.
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If a person does not like yellow, it will makes them feel nervous. Contrary to popular belief, yellow is not a soothing color, but rather a stimulating one. It makes a person want to get up and move. It’s not a good color for a child’s playroom or study/work area because it can increase anxiety. In a bedroom, it will make it harder to fall asleep.
Yellow is a popular color for kitchens, where in a light shade, it can be cheerful and increase energy. This is a good thing is you’re an aspiring chef looking to work quickly and get your recipes made.


Purple is the color of creativity. If someone wants to tap into creativity, they should surround themselves with purple for inspiration. In the past, purple was worn by royalty and it has the connotation of being a rich color.
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Brown is considered a neutral, but if it is deep and saturated, it can make a person feel more moody than happy. Lighter shades of brown make for happier interiors—think tan.


This dark and dramatic color tends to be used more as an accents than to color an entire space. Like brown, a dark black room can create a bit of a gloomy feeling. If a person really wants a black room, using a lacquer paint with a high shine would give it an entirely different feeling and lessen the negative feelings associated with it.
If you’d like to add some color to your home and put into practice what you’ve learned about the psychology of color, shop the Barbara Gilbert Interiors curated collection.
Psychology of Color in Interior Design | Barbara Gilbert Interiors