How to Use the Psychology of Color to Decorate

Published May 5, 2010 | Updated July 10, 2015

Did you know the colors you use in your home decor can affect your mood? According to the psychology of color, the way you perceive certain colors translates into the world around you, including your home. For example, orange is energizing while blue is calming. This guide will help you learn how to use colors in your home to your benefit, and your family's.

Decorating with Color:

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  • Red Is Exciting

    Bold, exciting, and passionate, red contains tons of vitality. Use red as an accent color anywhere in your home where you want to add a bit of lively energy. Studies also suggest that warm colors stimulate the appetite, especially red. A little red in your kitchen and dining room can promote healthy eating habits. If you want to keep your appetite in check, focus on a few accent pieces or paint one wall red with rest of the room a more neutral color.

  • Orange Is Lively

    As vibrant and lively as red, orange is associated with warmth, energy, and positive feelings. Incorporate the hue into common areas where your family gathers to promote health and happiness in your home. It's also a great choice for areas where you entertain guests, like your living room or backyard patio. Orange is also said to boost creative energy. Consider painting an art studio or play room orange to encourage creativity.

  • Yellow Is Optimistic

    Studies shows a person's brain actually releases more serotonin when exposed to the color yellow. It can make you feel agreeable, optimistic, and generally happy. Use the shade in areas of your home where you'd like to boost the mood and promote feelings of happiness, like the entryway where you first step into the house and greet guests, the kitchen or patio where you entertain, or even workout rooms to give your workout an extra shot of energy.

  • Green Is Serene

    Peaceful and refreshing, green is associated with nature and serenity. Use the shade in areas where you like to relax. Since it's a mix of energetic yellow and soothing blue, green is a popular choice for bedrooms. Cooler shades of green are calming while warmer shades help you get up and go in the morning. Green gives an outdoor living space, such as a patio or courtyard, a naturally soothing touch as well. Create an at-home escape with plants, outdoor furniture, and decor in various shades of green.

  • Blue Is Soothing

    This hue is calming and relaxing, even more so than green. Using blue in the bedroom can help you unwind after a long day and even help you get a better night's sleep. The color is often associated with water, making it a popular choice for bathrooms as well. Even a little blue in the kitchen can help you bring a serene feeling to your home and balance appetite-boosting warm colors. It's been suggested that the calming aspects of blue make it the most productive color and a popular choice for home offices.

  • Purple Is Luxurious

    This color has long been associated with royalty. Use it in areas like the bedroom, living room, or a formal dining room to evoke a sense of luxury. Like other colors on the cool end of the spectrum, it's calming, yet purple has a touch of the intensity and passion of red. Purple is also said to increase problem-solving abilities, making it great for a home office or study area.

  • Brown Is Grounding

    Ranging from soft neutrals to rich and deep shades, brown is associated with stability. The earthy color can ground brighter colors and bring balance to a room. Wood furniture and neutral walls will add a sense of harmony to any room. Bring elements of natural brown into your home to create feelings of warmth and earthiness.

  • White Is Fresh

    Crisp and clean, white can create a sense of purity. Use white in combination with any color to simplify your decorating scheme. Bright white is popular in bedrooms, where serenity is ideal, and in bathrooms and kitchens, where you don't want to feel cluttered. White also creates a sense of more space. Use white paint or white furniture in smaller rooms to make them feel more spacious.

  • Black Is Powerful

    Simple, sleek, and modern, black evokes a sense of power and timeless style. Choose black furniture or accents for a home office to evoke authority and stature, or touches of black in a formal dining or living room to give a sense of simple, timeless elegance. Avoid using too much black in rooms; black can make a space appear small or cramped.

  • Clear Is Ethereal

    Glass and clear acrylic furniture doesn't have any color, but those objects can still have an effect on your mood. Transparent furniture provides unblocked views, removing feelings of claustrophobia that may come from a cramped room. A glass coffee table gives a living room a spacious, calm feeling. Pair clear pieces with organic materials to ground them, otherwise they can feel a bit ghostly and otherworldly.