Color psychology is all the rage today. Loosely defined, color psychology is the study of how colors shape human behavior and emotion. In theory, the colors you choose for a particular space can have wide ranging effects regarding everything from your mood to your perception of the size of the room itself. These are accepted truisms that actually work and have practical applications.
Color psychology is intensely personal. Experts will tell you, for instance, that yellow means enthusiasm, cheer, and hope. There is one problem with this blanket approach, however. I hate yellow. There, I said it. I intensely dislike the color of Big Bird, dandelions, and the sun. It makes me crazy, or so says my therapist. But that’s okay! I’m allowed to hate yellow as much as you’re allowed to love it. This is not to say that color psychology is wrong. It just means that the psychology of color is deeply personal. We are all individuals with our own personal taste and style. So how do you figure out what colors work for you?
Let’s find out.
Color Elicits Emotion
Color elicits emotion, but it does not elicit the same emotion in everyone. Do you love thunderstorms? Does the sound of rain make you want to curl up in a warm blanket and read a book? Consider a dark grey for your bedroom to recreate that feeling. Do you love the beach? Do you love the warmth of the sun on a hot July day? Yellow may be the perfect color for your sitting room or living area. Colors speak and sometimes they speak directly to you.
Color By Association
Here’s a neat trick. Think about a time in your childhood home that was particularly special. Think of the room you were in. Maybe you were making cookies with your mother in your kitchen. Maybe you were falling asleep on your father’s lap in the family room while he watched football on a Sunday afternoon. Do you remember the room, the furniture, the color of the walls? Try recreating those childhood memories in your home.
I’m not saying that you should paint your kitchen that crazy 70s orange your parents picked out in a moment of shared insanity. But use that color palette to recreate the association you have with those emotions. Give it a fresh twist with updated colors and modern interpretations of classical design. Nothing can soothe you more than a good childhood memory. Those thoughts and feelings will stick with you for a lifetime.
Color Changes Your Perception
There are practical effects of color psychology that can change your entire perception of a room. If you want to make your space look bigger, try using lighter colors that reflect light, giving the appearance of a larger space. Light greys, off-white, or cool blues and greens can make any room feel larger. Dark accent colors can create contrast, creating a shadow effect. They can create layers to a room and give it a depth it previously lacked. Colors can unify as well as divide. Using different but complementary colors could, for example, define a home office from a living room. Identical accent colors can bring an entire room together.
Whatever colors you choose, do so intentionally. What speaks to you, motivates you, what do you love? Color can and will change your mood for the better. Whether you want to feel calm and relaxed or motivated and excited, there is a color out there for you. Just don’t tell me it’s yellow.