Room Color Psychology: How Paint Color Affects Your Mood

Deciding on a paint color can be a daunting task. Using room color psychology to learn the room color meanings can help you narrow the choices, and make your room feel exactly like you want it to.

Room color psychology: How paint colors affect your moodRoom Color Psychology

One thing that isn’t a surprise for anyone who has seen my house is that I love color!

There are no builder beige walls or white ceilings anywhere to be found (okay, maybe the laundry room…but that’s on my list for a re-do!)

I have always been fascinated by the fact that changing the paint color in a room can totally change the feeling of the space.

And according to scientific studies, it’s a real thing! There are psychological effects to colors that change the way you feel. So it’s actually a pretty important factor to consider when you’re picking out a paint color. Who knew you needed to know science and room color psychology to do a room makeover?

So I thought I would do some research and find out how paint colors affect your mood.

Cool Colors Vs Warm Colors

Warm Colors and Cool Colors on the color wheel

At the most basic level, there are two types of paint colors that affect your mood…warm and cool. If you look at a color wheel, half of the colors are on the warm side (red, orange and yellow) and half are on the cool side (purple, blue and green).

The names “warm” and “cool” generally describe how those colors feel in a room.

As you might have guessed, the warm tones are the radiant colors that make you feel happy and energized when you enter a room.  While the cool tones are tranquil colors that make you calm down and relax.  So deciding on whether you want your room to energize you or relax you can be an easy way to eliminate half your choices!

Within the warm and cool categories, each individual paint color affects your mood in its own distinct way. And knowing how they will make you feel is a great way to help you decide on a color direction for your room.

Warm Colors

Red Room Color Psychology

A red dining room stimulates the appetite

Dining room photo by Marker Construction Group

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

Red is the most intense of the colors and definitely ramps up the energy in a room.

It stimulates the appetite and conversation which makes red a great color for dining rooms and kitchens. In fact, more restaurants are painted red than any other color (it’s good for business!)

However it also raises blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. So all that extra energy means it may not be so great for bedrooms or spa bathrooms where you are trying to relax.

Pink Room Color Meaning

A pink home office is a calming place to work
A pink home office is a calming place to work

Even though pink is a tint of red, and still has the cheerfulness of a warm color, it has a totally different effect on your mood.

Pink has been shown to promote calmness and reduce aggression.  Apparently it works so well that some football teams have resorted to painting the visitor’s locker room pink in an effort to reduce their opponent’s effectiveness on the field.

I put that calm but cheerful vibe to work in my home office (which I really love to work in!).

Orange Room Color Mood

Contemporary orange dining room

Contemporary Dining Room via houzz.com

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

Orange is an energizing and fun color that has a lot of the same characteristics of red, but without the negative side effects (like higher blood pressure!). And some say that it makes you feel younger!

This contemporary orange dining room certainly looks like a place to have some lively dinner conversations.

Modern kitchen in orange and black

Contemporary orange kitchen via houzz.com

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

In this home, the orange walls are carried all the way through to the kitchen. If you know me, you know that I’m not a big fan of orange room decor (I don’t even do orange for fall decor!).  But I love the way it adds warmth to this streamlined room that might otherwise seem a little sterile.

However, that does bring us to one of the drawbacks of orange. It is the color most likely to be chosen by people as their least favorite color. So it might not be a good choice if you are planning on selling soon. (Unless you live in a big college football town like I do where a lot of “Game Rooms” are painted orange and purple for our Clemson Tigers ?? )

Yellow Room Color Psychology

Traditional yellow kitchen nook

Traditional yellow kitchen by Marcia Moore Design

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

Yellow is a cheerful and optimistic color. It’s hard to feel down in a happy yellow room like this kitchen eating area. It’s also supposed to help increase your focus…so studying in the kitchen would definitely be a good plan in this house!

Strong yellow glam entryway

Yellow entryway by DKOR Interiors Inc.- Interior Designers Miami, FL

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

In entryways, yellow is a very welcoming color. It certainly makes a statement in this glam foyer!

One thing to keep in mind: The eye sees yellow before any other color. If you are using it with other colors, it will be the one that stands out. Because of this, strong yellows usually work best as an accent color or in small rooms.

Apparently it’s also the color that makes babies cry the most…so you probably want to think twice about using yellow in a nursery.

Cool Colors

Purple Room Color Meaning

Purple Bedroom
My mother’s purple bedroom

Purple is a spiritual and creative color that people either seem to love or hate. I have never heard so many vehement opinions about color as when Pantone picked it for the 2018 color the year.

My mother and I both fall on the side of liking it, as you can tell by her purple bedroom makeover above and mine below.

Dark purple bedroom
My dark purple bedroom

It also symbolizes luxury, wealth and power, and is often associated with royalty. Maybe that’s why I like it in my new master bedroom so much…it makes me feel like a queen ??.

Purple is the darkest of all of the colors and tends to recede in a color scheme.

Blue Room Color Mood

A blue bedroom is calming
A blue bedroom is calming

Blue is the most calming of all the colors. It is said to slow your heart rate and respiration as well as lower blood pressure. Which is why it is often used in bedrooms (like the original version of my master bedroom). It is also supposed to suppress your appetite, so if you’re on a diet, maybe blue is the right color for your kitchen!

Blue symbolizes trust, dependability and stability which may be why more people choose it as their favorite color than any other color.

It also helps you think more clearly and be more productive, so blue is a great color for a study area or home office.

The pink accents make sure that a blue room doesn't feel too cold
The pink accents make sure that a blue room doesn’t feel too cold

Blue is the only color that doesn’t have any warm color influence (both green and purple are made up of blue plus a warm color). So it can make a room seem too cold. Adding some warm  colors and textures (like my mother did in her living room) is an easy way to prevent that from happening.

Green Room Color Psychology

Green is soothing and refreshing

Traditional green bathroom by Arnal Photography

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

Green is the most relaxing color on the color wheel. With its serene and tranquil feel, it’s no wonder it gets pick so often for spa bathrooms and restful bedrooms. Painting your room green is even supposed to prevent nightmares…another plus for a bedroom paint color (especially for a child’s room).

Since green is created from a combination of yellow and blue, it has the calming effects of blue and the cheerfulness of yellow. This helps to prevent it from feeling too cold like blue sometimes can.

Traditional living room in relaxing green

Traditional Living Room by Trevor Brown Architect

Note: This image is from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

Green is also believed to relieve stress. Which makes it a great color to use anywhere that you want to sit back and put your feet up.

But What About White and Black?

Technically, true white and black don’t count as colors. White is created from the combination of all colors, while black is the absence of any color.

However, when it comes to decorating, it’s very rare to be using true white or true black. The paint usually has an undertone color that makes it fit into either the warm or cool color group.

Which is why you can always find a white or black that will go with your color scheme. You’ll notice that every one of the rooms above has white and/or black in it. So they truly are neutral colors that will go with everything.

What Are The Best Colors For Different Rooms?

So for quick reference, here are the best colors for different room types, based on room color psychology. And of course, these are only guidelines. You are always free to pick something else. At the end of the day, the absolute best color choice is the one that you love!

Best Colors For Bedrooms and Spa Bathrooms

  • Green because it is relaxing and prevents nightmares
  • Blue because it is calming and slows your heart rate

Best Colors For Dining Rooms and Kitchens

  • Red because it stimulates appetite and encourages conversation
  • Orange for the same reasons as red
  • Yellow because it is sunny and cheerful

Best Colors For Studying or a Home Office

  • Blue because it helps you think more clearly
  • Yellow because it makes you focus
  • Purple because it encourages creativity

Best Colors for a Work Out Room

  • Orange because it increases energy and makes you feel younger
  • Pink, blue or green if your work out is more yoga than weights because they are calming

For the rest of the rooms in your house, there isn’t really a “best” room color psychology choice because it all depends on how you want the room to feel. And only you can answer that question.

Color personalities © artellia - AdobeStock.com
Color personalities © artellia – AdobeStock.com

There you have it, my list of how paint color affects your mood. So the next time you are having trouble picking a paint color for your room, try choosing the mood you want first. Then you’ll have narrowed the field to only a couple of colors and can more easily go from there.

Have questions or comments on room color psychology and how paint color affects your mood? Tell us in the section below.

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6 Responses

  • What about other colors, like Burgundy? Does that fall into red? And what do you do when youRe stuck with apartment building colors like off white walls and beige carpets?

    • Hi Annie…I think burgundy would generally fall under red, although maybe less forceful since it does have some brown and purple mixed in with it. Apartment building colors are a bit of a challenge. When I lived in an apartment, I tried to ignore the wall color and decorated everything else in the colors I wanted. Curtains that cover a whole wall, large wall hangings or a large bookcase painted in the color you want to use can all help to cover up the beige. Good luck with it!

  • Great information! I am wondering if grey falls into the same category as black and white? Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Corrine…Yes, grey is in the same category as black and white. It will have some undertones to it that put it on the warm or cool side of the spectrum, so you just need to pick one that goes with your other colors.

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