Color and Mood

As a child, I absolutely loved my mood ring. Rarely was it accurate, but it served as a reminder that color plays a critical part in one’s mood. This was my favorite lesson in art school, and it still plays a large role in my life. Whenever I am designing (from products, to sets, to styling my own home), I take color and the moods it can evoke very seriously.

Let’s take a closer look at some colors, the emotions they typically elicit, and where they may work in your home.

Primary Colors


Blue has a calming effect, and it has been linked to lowered pulse rates. This color works perfectly in a bedroom or bathroom due to the serenity it offers.


Red gives rooms energy; it both draws people in and stimulates the heart. Paint this color in an entry hall or dining room.


Yellow is a naturally happy color; however, moderation is key with this color. Babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms, and it is known to cause frustration. Nevertheless, yellow works well as an accent color, or with accessories, in a family gathering space.

Secondary Colors


Purple is dramatic and rich. Romance comes to mind when I think of this color, and its use in royal homes like the castles of Ludwig of Bavaria. It evokes both luxuriousness and creativity. Lighter shades of this color, such as lavender and lilac, are prefect for a bedroom. It is calming, without being too cool (like blue).


Orange, like yellow, is a happy color that exudes energy. In ancient cultures it was believed to heal lungs and increase energy levels–what a perfect color to paint your exercise room! It is also a great color to accessorize; Pantone’s color of the year 2012, Tangerine Tango, is the perfect hue with which to do so.


Green is both refreshing and cheerful; it is, literally, where blue and yellow intersect. It is known to be easy on the eyes, and to increase fertility. Green can be used in your bedroom, reading area, and even living space. See our blog on Emerald green and how you can inexpensively accessorize with Pantone’s 2013 color of the year.

Neutral Colors


Although not officially a color, white can allow your tiny apartment or room to appear larger. While white is probably not your first choice, it evokes a great sense of peacefulness. It can also be a great canvas for all of your other colorful furniture, accessories, and artwork.


Grey is a wonderful neutral. If the hue is cooler, it can have calming effects similar to those produced by blue. On the other hand, if the hue is warmer, it can be inviting and give more energy. Grey is a perfect base color, and can work with just about anything and any design, contemporary or classic.


Black, in small doses, can ground the room; many designers use this tactic. It is also very edgy and powerful–and, combined with some colors such as emerald green, can be exquisite. For example, check out Kelly Wearstler’s work at the Hotel Viceroy.

Whether you just need to update a small area or you plan to reinvent the look of your entire home, consider how you want to feel in each space. Then, let the colors speak to you. They are waiting to be heard.

4 thoughts on “Color and Mood

  1. Very helpful piece. Colours are vital to how we feel and express ourselves. I quite like having the main decor of a room in a neutral base and then accessorizing/furnishing in key colours that can then become features and focal points without overpowering the room. A beautifully upholstered chair in a sumptuous rich colour can totally transform a neutral space and that colour can then be continued through the room with cushions and throws.

    • I totally agree with you, a neutral base is a fantastic way to go in design, its almost like a blank canvas that you can add a few stokes of color too! Glad it was helpful to you!

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