Color me happy: use color to impact the mood of your home

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About Lisa

Lisa is the bestselling author of Replenish and founder of WellGrounded Life. She's got a big-hearted vision of a world where moms are fully equipped to live calm, healthy, and vibrant lives. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three kids, and 110 pound yellow lab.

Modern research has shown that when our eyes connect with a color, our brains release different chemicals that impact us on a physical and emotional level.

For instance, being in a red room will increase your heart rate and stimulate chemicals associated with aggression and high energy, while the color yellow stimulates serotonin (the feel-good chemical) in our brains.

Color therapy has been practiced in traditional healing professions for many years, but marketers and businesses more recently have also used color to shift human moods.

It is no coincidence that many fast food restaurants use red liberally, or that Volkswagen uses yellow to induce a happy-go-lucky image. We see greens and blues in yoga studios, and some prisons house aggressive inmates in pink rooms for its calming and energy draining effects.

Once we learn a bit about the attributes of each color, we can use that information to promote the atmosphere we want in the different rooms of our homes. Here are some ideas.

The Color Qualities


Photo by TM LVName

Red

Red is associated with high energy and power. It is the color our eyes are drawn to first in a room, so a little can go a long way. Red signals courage, ambition and strength. It promotes alertness and speed, and connects us to our physical self.

Red may help instill confidence, get us going when we need to be active or task-oriented, and can help as an appetite stimulant.

When there is too much red present, or if someone is sensitive to reds, they may experience feelings of irritation, anger or hostility. Often, red is best suited as an accent color instead of the primary color in decor.

Orange

Orange is a warm, inviting, and joyful color. It invokes feelings of sociability, enjoyable connection, and happiness. It has an emotionally strong presence, and promotes extroverted behavior - a fantastic color to use in gathering spaces to promote interaction and relationship building.

Because orange contains red, it can also be overused. Too much orange (or an orange that is too bright or intense) can create overwhelming, irritating or frustrating feelings.

Yellow

Yellow is the color of optimism, brightness, cheery attitude and mental clarity. It promotes creative, clear, upbeat thinking and decision making. Yellow can be helpful in easing depression and encouraging laughter.

Studies have shown that over-exposure to yellow, especially intense and deep yellows, can increase irritability, crying, hyperactivity, and can shorten tempers in babies and children (as well as adults).

Green

Green is a tremendously pleasing color. It has many positive qualities — invoking renewal, balance, refreshment and peace – which provides a calming influence and stress reducer.  An excellent way to bring green into your home spaces is with indoor houseplants or herb gardens.

While there is not a strongly negative aspect to too much green, it can promote laziness and lack of initiative if overused.

Blue

Blue promotes rest and calm and is a very popular color (the majority of people will respond that their favorite color is blue).  Blue can be very effective to help ward off insomnia and promote a deep relaxing sleep. It can help balance hyperactivity in children, and promotes imagination and intuitive thinking.

While blue can often be tolerated in higher amounts than other colors, it is a cool color, and too much blue can shift into feelings of apathy, pessimism, or separation from others. Balancing blues with a warmer, more relational color is a great idea for gathering spaces in a home.

Violet

Violet is often the favorite color of adolescent girls, it stimulates the problem solving areas in our brain, and it promotes creativity, intuition and artistic ability. In design, violet communicates richness and sophistication.

Overuse of violet may result in feelings of insecurity or suppression of emotions.

Your Personal Color Chart


Photo by TM LVCapture Queen

Before bringing color into your home, do a little personal assessment of how color impacts you. Sometimes a color may generally impact people one way, but for you, it brings out entirely different moods, feelings or emotions.

Write out each color on a sheet of paper (perhaps use a set of crayons or colored pencils to shade in a space of color on the page) and write down any words that come to mind. Don’t analyze it, just let it come out stream of consciousness.

After jotting down your knee-jerk feelings about each color, review it and see if you feel drawn to certain colors — or resistant to others. Use this as a guide as you think about ways to bring color into your world.

How do others in your family respond to color? Have your spouse and older children do this exercise — it might remind you how unique (and similar) we all are, and how important it is to be sensitive to everyone in our household.

Put It To Work

There are countless ways to weave color intentionally into your surroundings, from completely redoing a room’s decor, to adding subtle but effective accent colors to a space.  Take a look at the following examples and conduct your own “case studies” to put color to work in your home.

1.  Eating Spaces

Room:  Dining room

Who uses the space: The whole family, all throughout the day.

Desired effect: I’d like this space to promote conversation, feel enjoyable and relaxed (but not overly serene), and encourage appetite and family connection.

Current elements in the room: In our home, the dining room is painted a light butter yellow, with the lower half and the walls a white wainscoting.  Large windows open to our backyard with lots of trees in view.  Some casual family photos hang on the largest wall.

Ideas: I like the yellow for the warmth and upbeat feel.  I may want to accentuate the nature colors from the backyard view with window treatments that reflect greens and browns- invigorating and grounding colors.  Bringing in deep orange accents would add warmth, encourage conversation and stimulate appetite.  Wall decor, chair upholstery, candles on decorative shelves, fresh flowers, placemats, napkins, vases with colored water, and a centerpiece are all areas that could be used to bring in color.

2.  Work/Study Area

Room: Office

Who uses the space: Since my children are still too young to use a formal study area, my husband and I primarily share this space.

Desired effect: I often need to be stimulated when I work (lest I doze off for a nap). It would be nice to have a space that energized me, drew out creative thought, and kept my mind alert.

Current elements in the room: This room is sparse with hardwood floors and no area rug, and with light blue/green paint.

Ideas: Greens are fantastic for adding a refreshing feel and for keeping the mind focused and relaxed.  I’d like to see layers of greens as the main color scheme and punctuate the room with accents of violet.  Too much purple can feel overwhelming for me, but small pops of rich, saturated violet color draw out creative thought and balance an overly analytical mind.  Perhaps a vase with a bunch of dried lavender stems, a beautiful fabric runner for my desk, an area rug, or covering some books on the shelf in a violet paper.

What about you? What colors are you drawn to? How have you brought color intentionally into your home?

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Comments

  1. What a great post! Although our walls must stay white (renting) we have been adding jolts of color throughout our home. The red chairs – http://thecitycradle.com/home-tour-chairs really do exude confidence!
    .-= Vicky´s last blog ..Roast & Toast =-.

  2. We have various colours in our home, an applegreen wall in the kitchen, orange and yellow in the children’s rooms, a lemonyellow in the dining room and something like very bright bluegreen in the living room.
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Kürbis / pumpkin =-.

  3. Beautiful post! It’s funny- we’ve painted every room in our house. My favorite is probably my office, which I pained a pretty light aqua/blue color. It’s uplifting and fun! We also tended to go with more greens and tans than anything!
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Is Phantom Electricity Draining your Bank Account? =-.

  4. I’m curious to know what brown tends to do to people. I am a renter so I can’t change the walls, and my bedroom has this (horrible) wood paneling all over. I know that I consciously can’t stand it. I would like the room to be much lighter since we’re in the basement and don’t get a lot of sunlight. But what other feelings is it bringing out? And what colors should I use in the rest of the room to counteract it?
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Best Cookies Ever =-.

    • Hi Katie-
      Browns tend to be a grounding color– I imagine it would be a great color to compliment high energy colors or rooms that get a lot of traffic and movement– but like all colors too much of dark browns could feel “heavy” . You mentioned a lack of sunlight– maybe you could bring light yellows into your room?
      .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..10 Secrets of a Health Coach =-.

  5. I have an all red kitchen. I better remedy that, because some days I wonder: Is EVERY family this irritated??

  6. Hmmmm…I’ve never given this much thought…but I’m kinda excited to change things up a little bit in our house. We’re pretty much all white walls and a few colors sprinkled here and there. Thanks for the article!

  7. When we moved into our home almost 3yrs. ago. , the kids rooms were yellow and purple(previous family had 2 girls). Well, that was quickly changed- My daughter got a red (one wall) and white room with some black accents and my son received a very refreshing blue room. I have recently painted half of my laundry/office orange. It definitely keeps me energized and creative when “working” in there. Great post! Thanks for sharing!
    .-= thea´s last blog ..T-Shirts that Pop! =-.

  8. This was a really fun and interesting post to read. We recently moved to a new city and live in an apartment. Before this we had a house. We used a lot of color in our house but, now that we don’t own where we are living, we can’t really paint. The walls are off white which is really boring but, you’ve inspired me to incorporate color in other areas! My favorite color is green and I’d love to paint a whole room green and white but, that may have to wait. :)
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..L-O-V-E =-.

  9. Thank you for this info! Your post came at a perfect time as we are relocating at the end of the month. I cannot wait to paint our new home and plan out each room. We will definitely be using this blog post as our guide! Hope you have a wonderful day!
    .-= Melissa Jarquin´s last blog ..Specialty Cupcakes – $25.00 =-.

  10. I love knowing the different ways color can affect you. After being in our house for 5 years I decided I was done with “builder beige” as I called it and wanted color. So this summer I painted the downstairs. We have hardwood floors and lots of wood and antique furniture so I didn’t want to be too dark. The kitchen has a red accent wall and the rest of it and the dinning area are a warm yellow. I love the yellow in the morning, it glows with the sunlight and just wakes me up!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..A bundle of valentines =-.

  11. I’ve always love the phrase “Be brave, not beige” in regards to bringing color to your home’s walls. When I lived in Idaho, it seemed like six months out of the year the skies were gray and the ground was white. Colorless. My husband and I painted our living room blue (like the sky) and our bedroom green (which could be seen from the living room through french doors.) No matter what time of the year it was-it always seemed like spring!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Playing =-.

  12. I am drawn to greens and oranges (wierd combo, I know). I LOVE colorful homes! I’m definitely not a white wall person and have a different colour in every room while being careful that nothing clashes when looking from one room to the next. I’ve recently gone out of my comfort zone and put a pale blue wallpaper in our hallway. I don’t usually lean towards blue but the color feels so light and airy- I love it!

    Thanks for a beautiful post!
    .-= Jenni at My Web of Life´s last blog ..Finding Balance =-.

  13. Fantastic post, makes me totally rethink what I thought for the color of paint for my walls :D

  14. We had a horrible mustard color in our living room for a couple of years. It made me sick! We had spent so much time doing it with a faux finish and everything that I didn’t want to change it. We finally did, and I felt immediately better. Color can make a big difference!
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom´s last blog ..Routines, Rituals, and Traditions =-.

    • I can commiserate, Angela! When I was in grad school, my roommates and I wanted to paint our living room a subtle soft orange, but it came out neon pumpkin-like…didn’t have the money or time to change the paint for years– from the street you could see the color glowing through the windows :)
      .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..10 Secrets of a Health Coach =-.

  15. This was a fun article to read. I love reading about colors and how they can affect people. One thing for sure, I definitely don’t need to paint my kitchen/dining room red. The last thing I need is an appetite stimulant. ;)
    .-= Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday (2/15 – 2/21) =-.

  16. that’s a very interesting and colorful article! Very few people take the psychological effect of color into account when selecting paint colors for their homes, and they should!

    Yelena

  17. I love green. Green, green, green and yellow and blue with a touch of red.

  18. Wonderful application of the color qualities, Lisa. Your illustration has my mind racing, bouncing from space to space, picking at the prevalent colors in my home and trying to figure out what attitudes we’re inspiring where…

    Do you know whether shades have similar trends? Pastel vs. Classic vs. Earth Tones vs. etc.?
    .-= Pot Luck Mama´s last blog ..Spiritual Preparation =-.

    • Hi Pot Luck Mama,
      I’m certainly not an expert, but from what they do for me– lighter pastels can feel more airy, sometimes more uplifting, and easier on my senses…darker tones can feel weighty or heavy if used too much…earth tones always make me feel safe, grounded and secure but can feel too blah if there is no “pop” color.

      All of these associations I’ve simply noticed about myself– I’m most fascinated how color impacts us individually!
      .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..10 Secrets of a Health Coach =-.

  19. Lisa – I LOVE this post and I grinned with all my heart when I saw the photos. I am a lover of colour. I learned so much growing up in Europe from the Scandinavians about using colour (especially red) to counteract our grey Pacific North West skies. Beautiful post!
    .-= Misha´s last blog ..Stereotypes And Joy =-.

  20. I love this post, Lisa!

    Do you have any creative ideas for finding a way to change the colors in a room depending on what you’re working on? I’m working on designing my office, and as I read through the description of each color, it seemed spot on to the way I react to them. I think it would be great to be able to quickly and easily change the colors around my desk to reflect the project I’m working on and the mood that would serve that project best!
    .-= Mandi @ Organizing Your Way´s last blog ..Affiliate Marketing, Disclosures & Earning an Income from Your Blog =-.

    • Hi Mandi–

      Fantastic idea– I’ll have to think more about your rotating color idea. I know in my inspiration book, I have certain color pages– collages of similar colored things that take up a whole page- or pages….perhaps an inspiration wire that you could easily hang favorite color-themed images and then rotate as you want? (the clips make the rotating easy).

      If I think of some other creative idea I’ll post— anyone else have anything come to mind?
      .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..10 Secrets of a Health Coach =-.

  21. So much of our life is impacted by color. People’s perceptions of us, our feelings about ourselves, the mood it puts us in. I’ve often found myself reaching for grey or brown clothing on a rainy day just because the weather has put me in that mood. I try to stop myself and find something bright to help lift me up! It is so important to bring the right colors into our physical environment. I used to have a lot of red in my bedroom, and it felt so intense. Now it’s green and off-white and feels like a restful haven. Peaceful colors in your house is great Feng Shui!!

  22. loved this post!!! and have found this to be so true in my life.

    i even select my clothes based on the mood i want to create…strong reds for business meetings/presentations, soft purples when i’m teaching yoga etc.

    a couple of years ago i also repainted our eating space to a warm butternut color. i cannot even tell you how much joy the investment of can of paint has brought to home!!!

    ~erin
    .-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..school vacation slow down =-.

  23. It is amazing how much paint can change your mood! Love all of the ideas!

  24. Hi Lisa,

    Very nice article but could you please provide me the references who said it that our brain produce chemical on seeing colours and stuff
    any help will be highly appriciated

    thanks

  25. visit this site for interesting colour blind test

    http://www.pmdissertation.blogspot.com
    .-= imran´s last blog ..Colour Blind Test for Colour Blindness =-.

  26. avatar
    Clarissa Gamez says:

    I have a problem with color I cant ever pick a color because I dont know if it looks good or not. So my question is I want a color in my kitchen its plain white with light wood cabinets, Im not sure what color to color it. I want something that will make me have more energy and actually want to cook dinner after a long day of work. If you could help me that would really be great. Thank you!

  27. Thank you very much for this post.very interesting and enjoyable.i like light blue color, yellow and orange.nice to see.

  28. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. We moved into this house maybe 6 years ago and have not been happy at all it ruined our lives. So we are all sitting here and thinking what colors can we paint to make us all happy and out of our funk. I wish I new how to decorate better but the colors have helped me out . In fact our old house that we all loved so much and were so so so happy was light yellow and blue. It was beautiful. So thank you again. Theresa

  29. What a wonderful article. Thanks for sharing.
    Penni´s latest post: Ascension Symptoms

  30. I love the colors for my room (light blue and light purple) and I found this after I picked them out. fortunately they have positive reaction for me so yay

  31. Hi Sir, You are really good writer.

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