To put it simply, color psychology is the study of how different tones affect human behavior. In the realms of furniture purchasing and interior design, color psychology has always played a huge part. It is not only limited to the colors that we both enjoy and discriminate against, but also to the colors that make our houses feel like houses.

(C) William Waldron (in Country Living Magazine)

White, for example, is still the predominant choice for home décor, as a base color for walls and ceilings. We tend to associate white tones with purity and cleanliness, and some people argue that it’s use makes any space feel bigger than it actually is. Today we’re going to learn about how colors affect interior design.

Some colors and their argued effects on home interiors

Before we begin we should clarify that not everyone sees (or more specifically experiences) color in the same way. Again, though white might be your first choice, some people will not feel comfortable with having an entirely white home. We tend to see white as a neutral (and mostly benevolent) tone in the Western world, but white is a sign of death and mourning in various Asian countries, to give an example.

Black is a no-go for many people, and the reasons for this might be obvious for a Westerner (again: death, mourning, negative feelings), but black leather, for example, has been greatly associated with luxury and power, and many people enjoy having pitch-black furniture and décor accents around their homes because of this very reason.

(C) Eric Piasecki (appearing in Curio Electro)

So, with this in mind, what can we tell you about other colors? Blue has been designated by scientists as “the world’s favorite color,” even though their findings only name blue as the favorite shade for about 40% of the population (purple comes second). Human taste and preference for color is extremely diverse, so we can only advise that you take your needs and likes into consideration first, and then compare them to the ways in which color psychology tells us you’ll react to certain colors.

In plain English: identify the colors that you enjoy, read up on their psychological associations (you can start with this article), and then create a group of them for your interior design needs. This is what we call a palette, a French term that comes from the flat boards that painters used to mix colors.

The psychological effects of the world’s most basic colors

Your particular color palette for the home might include red, but you should know that red is often associated with passion, love, and sex. This might be positive for you, but it might make some people uncomfortable, as red is very eye-catching (and can become overwhelming).

Photo from Decoist. (C) Clean Design Partners.

Red and yellow are two colors that we usually don’t want to look at for long periods of time because they tend to stir up a lot of emotions. You can ditch a full red and replace it with a mellow pink, coral, salmon, or even orange. The latter is seen as energetic, inviting, and confident.

What about blue then? You might ask. Yes, blue is the world’s sweetheart, but there’s a reason why the sad, often melancholic music from the American Deep South has it on its name. Too much blue on a given space can stir feelings of depression, a sort of negative calmness. A great way to introduce blue tones into your home is to make them darker (ironically).

Photo from Residence Style. (C) Maison Studio in Homebook.

A beautiful navy or royal blue can imbue your space with feelings of confidence, control, and collected elegance. Even more perfect if you pair it with grayish tones and creamy whites. Green has a similar connotation: the darker it is, the better it will suit your space, both in the walls and in the furniture.

As a general useful rule for home décor: if you’re going to introduce these types of colors, make them dark. This will take away some of the natural connotations they have and make them more serious.