Do you feel happy when you think back to your childhood bedroom? Does contemplating your favorite restaurant make you hungry? Chances are good that the color schemes of your favorite places are at least partially responsible for how you feel about them.
Color psychology is the study of how color can influence and guide human emotions. Color might seem to be only a matter of taste, but there is some scientific evidence to suggest that the purposeful use of color can also affect your mood (though specific health benefits have not been established). A soothing environment can contribute to stress reduction and an increased feeling of wellbeing; health care providers use color psychology to offer a calming and relaxing environment for their patients [PDF].
If there's a particular hue that makes you smile, take up a paintbrush and go wild—painting a room is one of the easiest ways to redecorate. "I suggest choosing a color that makes you feel happy and at home. After all, that's what is really important when designing a home," says Allie Wilmoth, a residential interior designer in Wake Forest, North Carolina, who specializes in color selection.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. ORANGE ADDS WARMTH AND EXCITEMENT TO YOUR COOKING.
Bored with your meal prep? Make dining in more interesting by giving your kitchen a coat of orange paint. Orange is a warm, energetic color that stimulates the appetite (just think of how many fast-food restaurant logos incorporate oranges, reds, and yellows). This tone can give you an energy boost and inspire creativity and conversation.
"The color orange is the most social of all colors. It stimulates conversation, communication, and interaction. It reflects youth and energy and is a great choice for anywhere you want lots of action, activity, and high energy," Jane Lockhart, a Toronto-area interior designer and host of the TV series Colour Confidential, tells Mental Floss. "Orange is a great choice for a gym, family room, kitchen, or as an accent wall in a child’s bedroom."
2. GREEN MEANS SWEET DREAMS.
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to let go of the day’s stress, try using color to help you sleep more peacefully. "Light shades of green are the most restful, calming colors in the spectrum," Lockhart says. "Green is associated with earth, new growth, and new beginnings. It is a color full of life, inspiration, peace, and good health."
Green is also a great color for anyone who longs for the great outdoors. "If a city apartment dweller is looking for a natural feel within their space, I highly recommend a cool color scheme," Wilmoth tells Mental Floss. "Utilizing green and blue and coordinating a gray neutral color will help the small space feel larger, and an analogous color scheme of blues and greens creates a harmonious natural feel."
3. RED BRINGS EXCITEMENT WHEREVER IT GOES.
Red conjures up images of fire, movement, and excitement. Use red to liven up any space in your house and invite interaction—it's a warm and vibrant color can stimulate passion, whether it’s conversation in the living room or amorous activities. "Red is a great color to use for a kitchen, dining room, or bedroom," Lockhart says. But red can be a little overpowering (and possibly raise your blood pressure!), so you might want to limit it to a single wall or a piece of accent furniture, especially in a smaller room.
4. BLUE MOTIVATES AND STIMULATES (BUT IT ALSO CALMS AND SOOTHES).
Blue does it all. "Blue has been linked with productivity, honesty, and authority," Lockhart says. "It’s great for offices because of its motivating attributes. Blue helps stimulate the energy you need to get the work done." Blue can make you feel calm, centered, and content wherever you use it, which makes it a great color for the bedroom as well as the home office. "Cooler blues and greens evoke feelings of quiet and solitude, making it one of my go-to choices in bedrooms," Wilmoth says.
5. NEED YOUR SPACE? TRY WHITE.
If a bigger place isn’t in your budget, white can give the illusion of space and height. It can also create an open, airy feeling in your entryway or hall. If a bright white tone feels too contemporary or sterile to you, try a pale gray or cream. "Using one color, wrapped around the whole room, will help the viewer's eye travel throughout the space," Lockhart says.
6. PURPLE BRINGS CREATIVITY AND DRAMA.
Violet inspires the creative, mysterious and sensual. Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, has been named the color of 2018 by Pantone Color Institute, the global authority on color. This particular shade of violet "takes our awareness and potential to a higher level," according to the Pantone website.
If painting your bedroom or office purple seems a bit much, try painting an accent wall to add a new shade of creative inspiration to your environment. "Even just one wall would add uniqueness and a bold statement of individuality," Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, tells Mental Floss.
7. PERK UP YOUR MORNINGS WITH PINK.
Pink is fun and energetic. "Rose tones are always good in a bathroom or bedroom, because they add a healthy glow to the skin," Eiseman says. Paint your bathroom a playful shade of pink to give yourself a boost of happiness in the morning before starting your workday. If the idea of a pink bathroom leaves you cold, try a sunshiny yellow for the same warm and uplifting effect.
8. YELLOW BRINGS SUNLIGHT INDOORS.
Like blue, yellow works in many parts of the home, especially in rooms that lack natural light. This joyous tone might even increase your home's appeal to buyers. "Yellow, or any other warm-based color like coral, is fabulous—it's considered a happy and uplifting color," Eiseman says. "It is especially good in rooms that are dark or don't get a lot of light. Kitchens, entryways, and living rooms are good in these tones. They are convivial, friendly and make you feel like you are surrounded by sunshine—they're a great mood lifter."
Simply put, a gallon or two of paint can transform a room—and your attitude—for the better.