What Is The Psychology Of Color Theory In Interior Design?

Oct 10, 2023

The colors you choose for your home affect not only the look but the feel of the space. Different hues can evoke different emotions and set a mood for the room. Have you ever wondered why some colors make you feel calm while others make you feel energized? The answer lies in color psychology. When you understand the psychology behind color preferences, you can harness the power of color psychology to transform your interior design.

Understanding Color Theory

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Color theory is a collection of principles and guidelines that explore the relationships between colors and how they can be combined into compositions that are visually pleasing. It examines the color wheel, which is divided into primary (red, blue, and yellow), secondary (green, purple, and orange), and tertiary colors (blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange, blue-green, and yellow-green).

Additionally, the theory of color looks at the psychological and emotional impacts of each color. Psychologists have found that color can affect mood. This theory can be used as a guide when designing interior spaces to help make color choices that look good and create your desired mood for your home.

What Is Color Psychology?

Color psychology explores how colors influence human behavior, emotions, and perceptions. Different colors can evoke distinct psychological and physiological responses, which are deeply rooted in our evolutionary, personal, and cultural experiences. Interior designers use the psychology of colors to determine which color to use in each room design based on the desired mood for the space.

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Specific Colors

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Dicfferent colors are often associated with specific emotions and concepts. These associations can vary from person to person and across cultures. Bright and highly saturated colors (such as yellow) typically cause stronger emotional responses than dull colors with low saturation. According to chromotherapy, also called color therapy, colors of visible light can be used to help treat physical and mental health concerns. Knowing the emotional responses associated with color can help you choose the right color for the design of each interior room in your home.


Red is a bold and warm color that grabs attention. It’s often associated with strong emotions like love, passion, anger, or danger. In color therapy, red is used to stimulate appetite. In interior design, red is often used as an accent color to create a focal point and inject vitality into the room.

Similar to red is the color pink, which is made by combining red and white. Like red, pink is often associated with love and passion. However, pink is slightly less bold than the color red, making it a calmer color. Pink is also associated with femininity and hope.


Orange is the result of combining red and yellow and brings energy and cheerfulness to the room. In color therapy, orange is thought to improve a person’s mood. In interior design, orange can be used to create a lively, warm, and sociable atmosphere.


Yellow is a sunny, happy color that evokes feeling of optimism and warmth. In color therapy, yellow is said to be able to increase your concentration. In interior design, yellow is used to make an interior room look and feel more joyful. Yellow is often used in kitchen and dining areas, where it’s thought to stimulate appetite and encourage conversation. For a bright and cheerful space, yellow is a great choice.


Green is a combination of blue and yellow. The color green is associated with nature, growth, balance, tranquility, and harmony. In color therapy, green is used to encourage calmness. In interior design, green can be used to create a soothing and refreshing environment. This makes it a great choice for bedrooms, living rooms, and other areas that you want to feel calm.


Blue is often associated with peace and serenity. In color therapy, the color blue is thought to suppress appetite and ease pain from migraines. In interior design, blue makes the mind and body feel calmer, making it a popular color choice for bathrooms and bedrooms. Light shades of blue can also make an interior room feel airy and spacious.


Purple is the combination of red and blue. It’s a glamorous color that’s often associated with luxury, mystery, and creativity. It’s a combination of blue and red and can evoke feelings of stability and energy. In color therapy, indigo is said to promote mental health, and violet is said to support meditation. In interior design, light shades of purple can promote relaxation, and deep shades of purple can make a room feel more opulent.


When you think of the color black, you may think of power, mystery, and sophistication. In interior design, it adds a bold, dramatic, and elegant look to the room. However, it can also make a room feel small, dark, and oppressive if not used wisely.


Brown is a warm, earthy color that can encourage feelings of comfort and stability. In interior design, shades of brown are commonly used in furniture, wood flooring, and painted areas to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.


White is often associated with simplicity, cleanliness, and purity. In interior design, white is a versatile color that can make the room feel larger and more open. However, too much white can give the room a clinical feel, so adding pops of color can help the space feel more welcoming.

How to Use Color in Interior Design

Incorporating color into the design of your interior spaces can help you achieve your desired look and feel for each interior room. When choosing color for your interior design project, think about which colors make you feel happy, comfortable, or any other feeling that you want to feel in your home, and incorporate them into your design.

Then, start with a neutral base. Neutral colors like white, gray, and beige provide a versatile backdrop for other colors in your design. Introduce an accent color to create visual interest and add personality to the room. Be sure to also balance warm tones and cool tones. Too many warm color choices, such as too much bright yellow, can make the room feel intense, while an excess of cool color choices, like lots of green or blues, or too much white may come across as sterile.

Color and Space Perception

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Color choices can influence the way we perceive the size of a room. A light color, for example, can make a room feel bigger, while a dark color can make a room feel smaller. Playing with color in your interior design is a great way to make rooms feel more spacious or cozier depending on how you want them to look.

How to Make a Room Look Bigger

Using color strategically in your design allows you to make a room appear bigger. Opt for light colors, such as soft pastels and pale neutrals, which reflect more natural light and can make a room feel more spacious. In addition to choosing a light color, you can make a room feel bigger by adding mirrors to create the illusion of depth. You can also simplify the design of your interior space by including just a few decorative items and reducing clutter.

How to Make a Room Look Smaller

To make a room look smaller, create a design that incorporates paint and furniture with deep, rich colors, which can make a room feel cozier and more intimate. Bold patterns and textures can also make the space feel cozier, as can arranging furniture close together.

Creating Mood and Atmosphere

The psychology of color can be used to set the mood and atmosphere in different interior spaces in your home. When choosing color for your home design, consider the color of paints as well as the color of accessories, which all play a role in setting the mood for your space.

Warm hues like red, orange, and yellow can energize the space and create feelings of warmth and cheerfulness. However, they can also be associated with hostility and anger, so be mindful in how you use them. Cool colors like green, blue, and purple can make the space feel calm and relaxing. However, they can also be associated with sadness, so be mindful in how you use these as well.

How to Choose the Right Colors When Designing

When choosing colors for your interior design project, start by determining your goals. Are you aiming for relaxation, productivity, or entertainment? Use the psychology of color and think about color meaning to help you decide which colors are best for the interior spaces in your home.

Additionally, assess the amount of natural light the room receives. Natural light can affect how a color appears in a space as well as how big or small the room feels. Next, establish a color scheme, which will help keep your design focused with colors that look good together.

Before painting, be sure to purchase small paint samples and fabric swatches for your interior design. This allows you to see how each color looks in your space and under various lighting conditions. Test each paint swatch against a white background to more accurately see the color. Creating a mood board or inspiration board filled with images, ideas, color swatches, and fabric samples can also help you visualize how everything in your design will come together.

Color Schemes

Color schemes are combinations of colors that work well together. Choosing a color scheme along with considering the psychology of color can help you choose color combinations that bring visual appeal to your interior design.

A monochromatic color scheme features shades and tones of a single color, which creates a sense of unity and simplicity in the design. A complementary color scheme features colors located opposite of one another on the wheel and creates strong, visually striking contrasts. An analogous color scheme uses colors that are adjacent to each other on the wheel, such as blue, green, and teal, which creates a harmonious and calming color palette. A triadic color scheme uses three colors that are evenly spaced on the wheel, such as red, yellow, and blue, to create a vibrant yet balanced appearance.

Color in Different Rooms

Each room in your home serves a unique purpose, and the color choice should reflect that. The psychology of color can help you decide which room color to use in each interior space.

To create a welcoming environment in spaces like the living room, consider warm shades like red, orange, yellow, or earthy tones to encourage conversation and make the space feel inviting. For bedroom design, cool and calming hues like blue, green, and purple can create a serene and restful ambiance that promotes tranquility and better sleep.  If you want the space to have a feminine feel, consider using pink or purple.

Using cheerful and energetic colors like yellow or warm neutrals in the kitchen can create a lively atmosphere and help stimulate appetite. For bathroom design, consider cool and refreshing colors like light blue or seafoam green to create a spa-like ambiance that promotes relaxation and rejuvenation. When enhancing the design of a home office, choose a color that promotes focus and productivity, such as muted blue, muted green, or soft gray.

Work With a Knowledgeable Painting Company

When you’re ready to bring your interior design vision to life, working with a knowledgeable painting company or interior designer can help you achieve your design goals. Professional painters are familiar with the psychology of color and can provide ideas and recommendations for appealing color combinations for your home. They’re also experienced in properly applying paint to ensure gorgeous results.

Contact Classic Papering & Painting, Inc.

Classic Papering & Painting, Inc. has more than 30 years of experience helping homes in central Ohio look amazing. Through high-quality paints, exceptional craftsmanship, and thoughtful customer service, we deliver outstanding results for your home. To schedule a consultation, call us at 614-221-0505 or fill out our online contact form.