Color Considerations

I love bright colors. The first house that D and I owned had been fully renovated by a development group. It was beautifully done and had some lovely little architectural details that made it feel unique and not exactly like every other rowhouse in the city, but the entire place was painted what we eventually referred to as Contractor Beige. Apparently beige, in all of its different, but equally dull tones, is supposed to make spaces feel larger and more open. But after a year of living in boring beige hues, I felt like I was going crazy and insisted we pull a complete 180 on our place and paint all of the rooms in bright, stunning color. And so we did. And I was happy. As bright and happy as my dining room walls.


When we moved into our current house, we elected not to paint. After having to paint all of my beautiful, bright walls back to beige in the old place when we put it on the market, I vowed that I would never paint again. Painting is exhausting. So (for now) most of the rooms in our house are a soft gray color, and I get my color fix through decor items that add bright pops of color throughout the house.

While there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support the notion that color can affect your mood and wellbeing, there is a very long history of using color to treat a variety of health concerns and conditions.

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or the use of colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

In this treatment:

  • Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
  • Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
  • Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
  • Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
  • Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.


My own anecdotal experience favors the idea that color influences mood (beige apparently makes me feel homicidal, for example). How you respond to color and the feelings different hues elicit likely depends a lot on your own personality and preferences, but there are a few commonly accepted color/mood associations.

Purple is considered to be luxurious and restful. It is a good color for living rooms, bedrooms or any space where you want to feel soothed and calm.


Green is very easy on the eyes. It reduces eye strain and helps to calm the mind. It is generally considered to be the most restful and relaxing color, and may even reduce anxiety symptoms.


Blue is a very cooling color. It has been shown to reduce heart rate and is most strongly associated with feeling calm and centered. Blue has also traditionally been associated with creativity, and would be a good choice for an office, studio or other creative space in your home.


Orange is a bright, energizing color. While not restful and therefore not especially well suited to bedrooms or other spaces that are meant to be calming and peaceful, bursts of orange throughout your house may help lift your spirits and give you a good boost in the morning to tackle your day with energy and excitement.


Yellow is a joyous, cheery color. Like orange, it can be bit overwhelming when used as a primary color source in a room, but small pops of yellow can brighten up a dark space, and make smaller spaces feel more open and expansive. But you probably want to avoid adding too much yellow to a nursery or young child’s room. Studies have shown that babies cry more in yellow rooms.


Red is considered a very stimulating color that may promote conversation and togetherness. Red may also stimulate your appetite, which makes it well suited to dining rooms and kitchens.


What are your favorite color elements in your house? Which colors cheer you up? Which ones help you relax? Try to take notice of how you feel in different spaces in your home and how the colors around you may be influencing those feelings. If you have trouble calming down at the end of the day, consider adding more greens, blues and purples to your spaces to promote a sense of restfulness and calm. If you find yourself feeling drained and low on energy, think about adding a few bursts of red, yellow or orange to your space to get your blood pumping and help you feel more energized.

You do not have to paint your home all the colors of the rainbow like I did in my old house. Sometimes just a little pop of color, in a pillow or a print on the wall can make a big difference.


{Sources: Color Psychology, Fresh Home, Science of People, Fit Day}







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