Paint Color and Mood


Color can have a profound impact on the way you feel inside your home. Different paint colors have been shown to promote relaxation, increase appetite, or even encourage aggression! Understanding how you, your friends, and family are likely to respond to your favorite colors is an important part of the equation.


Red is a dramatic, eye catching color. It has been proven to increase heart rate, respiration, and even aggression. Sports teams frequently paint their “home” locker rooms with red because it is believed to enhance performance and increase energy. Because of its stimulating effect, red can also increase appetite.

Red is a good choice for entertaining areas. Bright shades, like crimson and scarlet, work best in small doses, like an accent wall in the living room; painting the whole room with such a shocking shade can be overwhelming. Maroons and brick reds can be used more liberally.

Red is an excellent color for kitchens and dining rooms, as many restaurateurs have found.

In bedrooms, red can be too stimulating. If you must have a red bedroom, try out a brown-based red. With the lights off, it will appear almost neutral and promote restful sleep.


Orange is an energetic, warm color. In shades ranging from soft peach to deep coral, orange is a good choice for rooms that need to be playful but sophisticated. It is gender neutral, a good choice when a brother and sister are sharing a bedroom. It’s also pleasant in craft and laundry rooms.


Yellow may seem to be a cheerful color, but it has surprising effects on mood. It can actually strain the eyes to be in an all-yellow room all day. People tend to lose their tempers more in yellow rooms, and babies exposed to lots of yellow cry more. On the other hand, yellow is also said to increase concentration and boost energy. Pairing it with cooler, more restful colors (like blue, green, or purple) can minimize negative effects and still let you enjoy its warmth.


Green is the most common “favorite color”. It is cool, restful, and easy on the eyes. Hospitals and detention facilities use green liberally to help residents relax. Green works well with most colors; in fact, depending on the exact shade, it can almost be considered a neutral. Its today’s most popular decorating choice. Try hunter green in the office, soft, restful sage in the bedroom or bath, and neutral khaki in the living room.


Blue is considered a very calming, restful color. It is also very cool. So cool, in fact, that a room decorated entirely in blue can feel several shades cooler than it really is. Blue increases productivity, increases feelings of trust and loyalty, and dampens the appetite. It is a common choice for offices. It is especially important to test samples of blue paint before doing the whole room. Blue, more than any other color, tends to look different in the room than it does on the paint chip. The wrong shade can also contribute to feelings of sadness. Try it out before you commit!


Like blue, purple promotes rest and productivity, but because it contains red, a purple room will feel warmer than a blue room will at the same temperature. It is a favorite choice of creative types like artists and musicians. Deep, dramatic shades of this color are exciting for the theater or living room. Pastel lilac is a refreshing, feminine choice for the bathroom or bedroom.


Pink is associated with femininity and most people either love it or hate it. Interestingly, it seems to have the opposite effect as red- at least at first. Exposure to pink initially promotes a calming effect, but can eventually increase feelings of stress and anger, according to prison studies. If you love pink, go for it! Many people, women especially, say pink makes them feel happy. It’s a good choice for girls’ bedrooms, craft spaces, or “hers” bathrooms.


Brown is a sophisticated neutral hue that has become very popular in recent years. Men, in particular, are drawn to brown. Brown rooms can have a sedating effect or an energizing one, depending on the accent colors used. Dark shades can make a room look more intimate and cozy, while soft beige will “open up” a small space. Popular combinations now are chocolate brown with pink, soft turquoise, or mint green.

Pair this masculine shade with green for a “his” bathroom, bring it into the living room and accent it with colorful ethnic accessories, or use it in the bedroom to create a cozy, restful space.


White is the common “default” color for new constructions and rentals. It goes well with everything, and when kept clean, makes a room feel refreshing and pristine. White ceilings give the illusion of height. Too much white, however, can make a room look boring, or worse, cold and sterile. Offset this effect by choosing off-white instead of a true, blinding white, and add some color (even if it is other neutrals) for visual interest.


Black, while sleek and modern, is a poor choice for walls and ceilings. Black rooms tend to oppressive. Spending time in an all-black interior creates feelings of fear, desperation, and agitation. Because it’s so deeply pigmented, black is also difficult to paint over; expect a cover-up to take three or more coats. Make exceptions for specially designated rooms; dark rooms and theaters, for example, are good candidates for black paint.

In most rooms, black is best used as an accent color. Glossy black trim can make an otherwise bland white room look fresh and modern. It’s also a good choice for furniture, accessories, and stenciling.


Another neutral, gray is a hybrid between black and white. Deep shades like charcoal can have the same oppressive effects as black and should be used sparingly, while lighter shades are more forgiving. Gray is becoming a popular choice in modern kitchens, where it highlights shiny stainless appliances.

Make it Your Own

Now that you know everything there is to know about paint color and mood, feel free to throw these rules out the window. Color is a very personal thing; everyone experiences it a little differently. If you’re dead-set on a cherry-red bedroom, lemon-yellow nursery, or all-black bathroom, go for it. If you hate green, no matter how restful it is to most people, you won’t be able to relax in a green living room or bedroom. Don’t even try. The bottom line is that you’re the one living there. Choose what you (and your family) like and run with it. Guidelines are just that: guidelines. They’re not set in stone.

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