The Psychology of Color

Use color as a mood-lifting design tool that evokes calm, drama, cheer or comfort.

When some people want to lift their spirits, they reach for a bowl of ice cream. There's a better way to improve your mood, though: color. Color is a powerful design tool that can make the rooms in your home feel more calm, cheerful, comfortable or dramatic.

Color makes a tiny room feel larger, or a spacious one feel more intimate, without the time and expense of actually moving walls.

You can make a den feel cozy by painting the walls with a warm color, or make a narrow space feel wider by using different colors on opposing walls. The paint colors you choose, as well as the color of the furniture and accessories, all create a mood.

"Color is all around us and even in our vocabulary. We say we feel 'blue'," says interior designer and color expert Elaine Ryan. "It's part of our core, but for many years color has been excluded from our homes ... but now I see a real love for it and people wanting it in their home. It's all about finding the colors you respond to and that make you feel good."

There are colors that work for certain home styles, but don't be afraid to be creative. Instead of using dark olive green on a Craftsman, go for a celery green that gives a fresh and lighter touch.

"The power of color is that it can completely alter your experience," says interior designer Shannon Kaye. "You always want to ask yourself how you want to look and feel in a space."

Deciding on colors for your home can feel like an overwhelming chore, but many paint companies offer online tools and paint collections that help you create a cohesive color palette.

So don't be afraid to experiment and use color. With some planning, you can find the colors that will make your home an expression of your style.

Explore Color on a Deeper Level

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Behind the Color Blue

Learn how blue interiors can be calming or energizing, depending on the hue's temperature.

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