The Color Effect

Does Color Effect Your Mood?

Do our surroundings really have the ability to change our moods, or even effect depression?

If you’re not sure, just think about how you feel when your office is messy, or your bathroom is dirty, or your living room is un tidy. Do you feel scattered when your desk is piled high with papers, 3 days worth of coffee cups & a half eaten sandwich? (Maybe that’s just my desk)

But you feel disorganized don’t you? I feel MENTALLY more organized when my office is organized.

I don’t think there is really any doubt that our environment (indoors or out) affect our emotions. And we can be affected by different things; general disorder or chaos (this might be a dirty/messy space or it may be a cluttered over accessorized space!), overall feeling of warmth vs cold, and one of the biggest factors: Colour!

Colour is light, and light is energy. Scientists have found that actual physiological changes take place in human beings when they are exposed to certain colours. Colours can stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite and create a feeling of warmth or coolness. This is called Chromodynamics.

The human eye can see up to 7 million colours.

Some colours and/or colour relationships can be eye irritants, cause headaches & wreak havoc with your vision.

Other colours and/or colour combinations are soothing and make us feel better.

The appropriate use of colour can maximize productivity, minimize visual fatigue and relax the whole body.

For example:


Red stimulates energy, it signifies strong emotion such as love, hate, anger (“seeing red). Infamous symbols associated with the color red are stop signs, fire hydrants, hearts.

The color red has been found to raise one’s blood pressure, and it has been found to make people take risks they might not normally take. That’s why Vegas casinos use neon red lights (take note next time you’re there).

But it also has a positive affect, Think of “rose coloured glasses”. You’ve heard the saying, but did you know it actually works? A company that actually markets red contact lenses to animals found that chickens that were tested ate less, produced more eggs and didn’t fight as much!


The color pink is associated with love and romance. It has a calming effect, and as such is was often used in some prisons to calm inmates in the 1950’s, and in opposing team locker rooms to keep players passive. However researchers found that this effect only occurred during initial exposure and that the inmates actually became more agitated as they got used to the pink. So now you know why you would get so annoyed after many long visits with grandma!


The color orange is associated with energy, warmth, enthusiasm and autumn as well as caution and of course Halloween.

Orange stimulates the appetite and is used often in restaurants and dining rooms.

Orange has been found to increase oxygen supply to the brain, and stimulates mental activity, making it a good color choice for creative-based businesses.

It is the most divided of all the colors – people either love it or hate it. It is more accepted among the younger generations.


Yellow is associated with optimism, happiness, energy as well as Agitation. It is the most fatiguing color, especially brighter tints because it reflects more light and causes excessive stimulation of the eyes.

If you are planning a baby’s nursery, don’t use bright yellow – babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.

It has been shown in a study of colors, that husbands and wives tended to fight more in a yellow kitchen.

Yellow does have some good uses though, it is the first color that the eye recognizes, so it is great for signage. Yellow has also been known to increase the metabolism so it is a good choice for dishes or table clothes.


These days green is associated with sustainability. But it is also linked to tranquility, peace, good luck, jealousy and money.

Green has a calming effect, which is why the “green room” came to be. Green also relieves stress and is a good color choice for an office.

Research has shown that the color green can improve reading ability. Laying a transparent sheet of green film over reading material can increase speed and comprehension.


Blue is associated with calmness and serenity as well as sadness. It can also create feelings of aloofness.

It is one of the most popular colors, but it is also thought of as the least appetizing. Weight loss programs suggest that you eat from blue dishes in order to lose weight. The reason being that there are not many blue foods in nature, and our minds associate blue in food as poison or spoiled food.

Blue can lower your heart rate and body temperate – it is a “cool” color in more ways than one.

The most preferred color by men is blue.


Purple has long been connected with royalty and wealth. It is also associated with wisdom and spirituality.

It is an uplifting color that encourages creativity making it a great choice for design firms and schools. It has been shown to stimulate the part of the brain used in problem solving.

Purple is well liked by creative or eccentric types and is a favorite of many adolescent girls.


Is white a color? Scientifically speaking, no, it is a lack of color. But if you ask a designer, they’ll tell you it is one of the most important colors – or rather, tones. White is a very symbolic color. In many cultures it means virginity which is why it is often worn by brides. It is also associated with purity, innocence and serenity.

Worn by doctors, white is a color of cleanliness and sterility.

White reflects light and is a bright color which can create a sense of space of create contrast and highlights.

It is often considered cold or bland – but consider what happens if you add tints of other hues to make very subtle off-whites?


Grey is another one of those non-colors. But it is by far my favorite color. It doesn’t have a very good rep though. It has been associated with loss, depression and sadness.

Grey weather is a regular thing where I live, and many people complain about how depressing it is, but I find it cosy, warm and comforting.

On the upside, grey is also considered timeless and is thought of as classic. It is known as the color of intellect, knowledge and wisdon by some – and I will have to agree!

Grey mixes well with other colors and makes a great neutral. It has long been a go-to for suits, and is a favorite of many designers.


Again, many people will argue that black is not a color. But in this context, I will argue that it is. Black is associated with formality, sophistication as well as mysteriousness, evil, death and mourning.

Black is a favorite for clothing and accessories. What woman doesn’t have a little black dress? It also makes you appear slimmer and more sophisticated.

Black is also associated with power and luxury; limousines, tuxedos, judge’s and priests’ robes etc.

Black implies weight and can be an overpowering color if used incorrectly in a home.

So how does all this relate to your PHYSICAL well-being?

Believe it or not, our feelings or emotions affect our health and well being. Emotions produce chemicals in the body called peptides. I won’t get too far into the details, since I am NO doctor, but basically those chemicals get released into the bloodstream and every cell in our body is ready to receive them. We can actually become addicted to emotions because of the reactions they cause to our body – similar in many ways to drugs. It may be because they become familiar and comfortable to us (whether from good or bad emotions). Consider those people who are “adrenaline junkies”. It is a physical change to our body caused by emotions (fear & excitement). Different emotions, and combinations or emotions, have different effects on us, but ultimately they DO affect us physically.

How do you apply color to your home?

Color is seen either by the way light reflects off a surface, or in colored light sources. Color, and particularly contrasting color, is also used to draw the attention to a particular part of the space. There are primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. Tertiary colours tend to be the most pleasing to the eye. Complementary colors are colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors are used to create contrast.

Analogous colors are colors that are found side by side on the color wheel. These can be used to create color harmony.

Monochromatic colors are tints and shades of one color.

Warm colors are a group of colors that consist of reds, yellows, and oranges. Cool colors are group of colors that consist of purples, greens, and blues.

Color Do’s and Don’ts

Now, some tips on applying what you’ve learnt


Use contrast Build you color scheme around a signature or favorite piece Apply unity within each room, and throughout the house by using complimentary colors Consider the home’s style or period Consider the use of the room Have fun


Pick your paint colors before everything else Make your favorite or boldest color the main color – it will pop more as an accent Ignore color undertones Get caught up in trends Rush it – take your time picking colors, and look at them in all different lights Be afraid, it’s just paint!