Friday, November 2, 2012

The Emotional Impact of Color

Years of color response research proves that color arouses a strong emotional response and impacts our mood, appetite, and energy level, so it’s important to be aware of this when decorating your home. While people may have an individual association to certain colors, there are some color effects that are universal.

Colors in the red, orange, and yellow families are known as “warm colors” and usually evoke emotions of warmth and comfort. Blues, greens and violets are known as “cool colors” and generally elicit feelings of tranquility and calm. We discussed the 6 steps to selecting the right paint color last month, let’s delve a little deeper into the emotional impact of specific colors and how you might want to consider this when choosing paint colors for specific rooms. What emotional impact would you like a room to have?

Red: This powerful color increases blood pressure, heart rate, brain wave activity, and even respiration. It often produces feelings of intimacy, energy, passion, and sexuality. It also stimulates the appetite and is often used in restaurants and is an excellent choice for dining rooms in the home.

Orange: Like red, orange warms a room but in a less dramatic and passionate way. The mood and attitude of orange is more friendly than fiery; more welcoming than seductive, as it is said to be the color of fun and sociability. Warm and energizing orange works well in living rooms and family rooms and is also a good choice for children’s bedrooms.

Yellow: Yellow grabs attention and catches the eye like no other color as it inspires a sunny disposition and optimism! As a reminder of happiness and a memory stimulator it’s often used in offices. In poorly lit foyers and hallways, yellow shows the way. In their bedrooms, elderly people report that yellow lifts their mood. But bright yellow can be too strong and may actually cause anxiety in infants, young children, and the elderly as it is also said to cause fatigue.

Blue: Blue is a relaxing color and has a calming effect on the body and is said to create feelings of cleanliness, healing, and wisdom. As the best liked color and a reminder of the ocean, sky, and time off work, it is an ideal bedroom color choice for adults and children. However, that same blue that lulls us to sleep also suppresses our appetites, possibly because there are very few naturally blue foods. Put blue to bed, but try and keep it out of the dining room.

Green: As the dominate color in nature, we are at home with green anywhere in the house as it is associated with freshness, coolness, clarity, and growth. It’s calming and soothing effect provides a tranquilizing effect. Light greens work well in baths and living rooms; mid-range greens are a great accent for kitchens and dining rooms. The calming effect of green makes it popular in hospitals, schools, and work environments.

Violet: Despite the favorable response violet elicits in children, many adults dislike purples, with rosier shades of violet being somewhat more appealing. Violet heightens our awareness and helps us give our very best. Children’s bedrooms and play areas may be good places to experiment with this color family.

Don’t be afraid of color! Experiment and find the colors that work for you.

This article can also be viewed in the March 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at

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