Color Matters: Your Home’s Psychological Influence on Your Mood

If you’re planning a new interior paint job, walking through the hardware store makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop. Oh, that turquoise! It’s so bright and fun, and would be ideal in the office! Or maybe that bubblegum pink – it sure looks pretty on the sample card! Slow down and take a step back – this is not the time for hasty decisions. You’ll be spending a lot of time with the hues you choose and you want them to have a positive influence on how you feel when you’re in your own home. Use this guide to determine exactly what end result you want to achieve – aesthetically and emotionally.

General Guidelines

Lighter colors are known to make a space look larger, while darker hues tend to close the room in. Consider your ceilings as well as your walls – keeping all of them the same color will create the illusion of one continuous surface, while painting the ceiling a darker shade can bring it down a bit and make the room feel cozier and more intimate.

If your home’s flooring and appliances are a bit dated, simply treat them as neutrals and create the look you want through the use of updated, cheerful wall color and splashes of coordinating tones around the room in the accessories and artwork.


Blues are calming and soothing, and may even have the ability to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. When using a blue for an entire room, stick with lighter shades, as darks can induce a depressed feeling. While blue can be perceived as too cool to create a cozy atmosphere, there are other, warmer hues you can throw into the mix in order to brighten it up – oranges, browns, pinks, and greens all go well with this serene paint choice, and soften its “chill factor”.


You probably aren’t surprised to learn that red can increase heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, and induces adrenaline production more than any other color. It’s commonly used in restaurants specifically for its high energy and ability to increase appetite. Reds can inspire interaction and social energy during gatherings, making it a popular choice for a dining room or living room accent wall. Due to the invigorating nature of this hue, it’s not the best choice for a peaceful bedroom. Complementary colors include weathered white, yellows and blues, and grays.


This is a fantastic choice for a calming, relaxing bedroom. It can contribute to stress reduction, and is also associated with fertility. Greens bring cheer, yet serenity to nearly any room in the house. Apple green brightens the kitchen and sage adds a rich, velvety touch to a bedroom or bath. Pair lime with orange and hot pink for a girl’s room, or bring yellow and bright blue into a dining room with grass green. Neutrals in the tan and brown families make for a wonderfully warm feeling when paired with a muted medium green.


Orange is an exciting, energetic choice that’s ideal for workout rooms or a teen’s gaming retreat. Similar to red, this hue is not the best choice for bedrooms but can be used in moderation alongside blue for accents and accessories. Lemon yellow, lime, and bright Kelly green are also great choices to pair with this fun paint color.


Yes, pink is simply a whitened shade of red. However, since its influence on mood is so very different from its aggressive, energy-inducing parent color, it deserves its own description. Pink has a rich, unique history – it used to be the accepted color for boys because of its perception as a strong, masculine shade. It wasn’t until the 1940s that it gained a stronghold in America as the “feminine” choice for girls. The hue is considered creative, joyful, soothing, and healing, and even if a whole room is too much for you, touches of the shade throughout the décor can bring a peaceful ambiance to any home.


White, black, browns, and grays are fantastically versatile palettes that offer you the ability to quickly and easily change the feel of a room with just some accessory changes, like new throw pillows. If you choose tan walls, for example, you can easily put out deep red and hunter green blankets and throw rugs during the holiday season, then switch to an aqua and coral theme once summer rolls around. Black is best as a minimal accent color, as it can be overwhelming if used on all the walls.

Paint is affordable and easily changed, but nevertheless, you don’t want to go through all the trouble of putting up that must-have hue and then realize that it makes you feel unsettled inside. Consider the emotional effect of your paint choices – not just on you, but on each family member (different colors can have a different effect from person to person) so that you can be sure you’re picking a décor scheme you can not only survive, but thrive in.