Color theory in interior design: how color psychology influences mood

Colors in interiors can help us nurture the right set of emotions, moods and mindsets in a particular space

What is color theory?

Sir Isaac Newton was a scientist who figured out how white light could be split into different colors using a prism. He did this by experimenting in a lab. But then, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe disagreed with Newton. Goethe said darkness is needed to make colors and colors show different levels of darkness. His idea is more about how we experience colors and how they affect our feelings. Artists got interested in using a color wheel to mix colors, especially during the Industrial Revolution when they started standardizing colors for things.

Relationship between color psychology and interior design

When you see something, it’s not just your eyes, but also your mind understanding what you see. Your eyes send information to your brain, and your brain interprets it. Everything you see affects your thoughts. Colors, in particular, can strongly influence how you feel. That’s why restaurants like McDonald’s use bright red and yellow in their logos—they can make you feel hungry when you look at them.

In interior design, colors can change how you feel in a room. They can also make a space seem larger or smaller. For example, using light colors like pastel white and cream white on the walls can make a room look bigger and more open.

Impact of different Colors on human psychology

Colors can affect how you feel and act. Artists have used colors to evoke emotions for a long time. Colors can change how we see the world and affect our lives every day. Color psychology studies how colors impact our behavior. But it’s important to know that different cultures see colors differently, so colors can have different meanings and effects in different parts of the world. Let’s learn more about color psychology.

  1. Colors influence emotion

    Big restaurant chains and movies use colors a lot to make you feel a certain way. For example, food companies use bright colors to attract kids and customers. In movies, different colors create moods. A happy family might be shown under a bright yellow sun having a picnic or celebrating with bright colors. Colors represent feelings, like red for anger, pale purple for fear, green for disgust, yellow for joy, and blue for sadness. Colors are closely linked to human emotions. After the Industrial Revolution, businesses started using standardized colors for marketing.

  2. Colors influence the perception of personality

    Surprisingly, people often judge others based on the colors of their clothes. The colors someone wears can affect how we think about their personality and actions. In sports, if the opposing team wears red, it might make the other team feel like there are more mistakes happening, as red is linked to warnings and errors. Many leaders wear black suits because black suggests power and authority. In karate, a black belt shows strength. Studies even show that players wearing black jerseys might get more penalties because black can make people seem more aggressive.

  3. Colors influence perception of temperature

    If a room is painted with warm and light colors, like shades of yellow or beige, it can make you feel calm and relaxed. On the other hand, cool colors like different shades of blue can make you feel cold, like you’re near water or ice. That’s why bathrooms often use blue or white colors to give a fresh and cool feeling.

  4. Colors influence our decisions

    Colors affect how we feel and the big advertising companies understand this well. They use green for organic products to make them seem genuine. The color of a product can influence whether you buy it or use a service. This makes sense because a lot of what you experience is based on what you see. Your brain uses emotions and feelings to make decisions, and colors can influence those emotions. Restaurants often use warm colors like red, orange, or yellow to make people feel hungry or thirsty, affecting how much they eat. Brands wanting trust and a good image might use warm colors too. Basically, colors can be used to make people feel a certain way and influence their choices.

  5. Colors influence our perception

    Have you noticed that many boys avoid pink because it’s seen as a girly color due to its soft look? In offices, bosses who want to seem strong and confident decorate their spaces with dark, sturdy colors. Dark colors show strength and power, while softer colors create a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

  6. Colors influence our performance

    Colors like blue help relax our nerves, making us calm and productive. Warm colors like orange and red represent passion and can boost performance and drive.

Colors as an interior design tool

Picking the right colors for interior design can be tricky. Many of us copy others because we’re not confident about our own choices. Color theory helps people and artists understand how colors affect moods and emotions. It shows what colors go well together. Let’s explore how colors can be used in interior design to influence the moods and mindsets positively:

  1. Color psychology: Using White in interiors

    In Feng Shui, white is seen as a peaceful and harmonious color. It represents purity and cleanliness. Using white in interior design can make a room feel bright and lively. But if a room is completely white, it might seem too sterile. Different shades of white create different moods. Creamy white can feel cozy, like a winter morning. White can also make a space look uncluttered and spacious. It works well with wood and glass accents. White is good for kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms because it makes the space feel open and airy.

  2. Color psychology: Using Blue in interiors

    Different shades of blue can make you feel different things. Dark blue can make a small room look deeper and bigger. Light blue, like ice blue, can bring calmness and stability. It’s good for creative spaces. Blue is often linked to sadness because it can feel gloomy, but in offices, blue walls make people more productive and creative. Blue is seen as lively and energetic, boosting productivity and performance.

  3. Color psychology: Using Green in interiors

    Green is a calming color that brings peace and balance. It’s connected to nature and represents the natural world. Being around green makes people feel relaxed and calm. That’s why in TV shows, people waiting for their turn are often placed in a green room to help them relax.

    There are many ways to add green to your home. You can use plants, paint a wall, or add green furniture and decorations. Dark green colors make a room feel very calming, but they can be overwhelming if you’re not sure which shade to pick. Emerald green gives a luxurious vibe, while softer greens create a relaxing atmosphere and brighten up your space. Light greens make the room feel cool and calm. If you don’t like very light or dark greens, the medium shades are just right. Even painting just one wall green can bring a natural touch and a cozy feeling to your space.

  4. Color psychology: Using Purple in interiors

    Purple is a special color that represents wealth and nobility. It can be used in both feminine and masculine designs. Lighter purples are more feminine and are good for bedrooms, while darker purples can have a masculine feel. Purple also gives a sense of luxury and royalty. You can use it at the entrance of your home to impress guests.

    In interior design, purple brings passion and intensity. It makes your walls look stylish and high-end. Depending on the shade, it can feel warm or cool. Purple adds mystery and richness to your design. It can set the mood for a room, whether it’s a bold statement in your living room or a softer touch for a feminine vibe. You can even use purple outside your home on windows, shutters, or doors to add interesting details.

  5. Color psychology: Using Red in interiors

    Red is a lively color that can create different feelings and atmospheres. It’s great for homes and offices because it represents energy, ambition, and determination. Red is linked to action and productivity, making it a popular choice in commercial design.
    Red can make your living room or dining area stand out and encourage people to talk. It’s also good for entrances because it makes a strong impression. In Southeast Asia, red is seen as lucky and is used in rituals. You can also use red in prayer areas for a special meaning.


Color psychology studies how colors affect our mood and thoughts. It also looks at how different color combinations can influence how we feel and make decisions. It’s both a science and an art because how we see colors is personal, but some colors have universal meanings.

Absolutely, color psychology is effective, and many brands now use it to create distinctive and impactful brand experiences.

Yes, colors can change how people feel. Bright colors like orange, red, and yellow make you energetic and happy. Soft greens can calm you down and purple gives a royal feeling. Using specific colors can make you feel different emotions.

Interior designers suggest picking three colors for your room. One color should be the main one, covering most of the space (60-70%). The next color can be used for a quarter to a third of the room (25-30%). The last color, about 5-10%, can be used in small items or furniture. Sometimes, you can also paint a wall in a different color to make it stand out from your furniture.

Yellow can make your home feel happy and positive. If you paint your walls yellow, it can create this effect. Designers also recommend using red if you’re feeling down or tired because it boosts your confidence and determination.

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