Psychology of Color
Bring the psychology of color home.
Red is emotional and passionate. Blue is cool and fresh. Yellow is bright and cheerful. Color itself is personal and reflects a rainbow of experiences, personalities and moods.
As it applies to home design, the key is to channel the way you think and feel about color into the impression you want to create with your exterior and interior. When you’re ready to use color in taking the design of your home to the next level, where do you begin?
Start with the color wheel.
The human eye can distinguish more than 10 million colors. Impressive, but daunting. So before you see how colors live with each other on your siding and trim, or in different rooms of your home, see how they relate on a color wheel.
It classifies colors into primary, secondary and tertiary, and gives you a handy circular space to quickly see which colors go with each other. So if you’re considering spicing up your dining room by creating a red (primary color) accent wall, you’ll see that orange (a secondary color) is a viable color option for the rest of the walls.
Artists have been using the color wheel for more than three centuries—maybe they’re on to something.
The color wheel arranges colors into handy palettes:
[COLOR WHEEL IMAGE]
- Primary colors—red, yellow and blue: the source of every color and color combination.
- Secondary colors—orange, green and violet: each is the offspring of two primary colors, e.g., red + yellow = orange.
- Monochromatic colors—different shades of the same hue, such as deep purple and violet. For when you’re looking to make a more understated statement.
- Analogous colors—two to six hues that sit adjacent to each other on the color wheel, such as orange, orange-yellow and yellow.
- Complementary colors—pairing two colors found directly across from each other on the wheel, such as yellow and purple, allows each hue to shine its brightest.
Connect inside with outside.
The exterior and interior of your home should flow together to complete the expression you want to make. This is just as important with color as it is with textures, furniture and decor.
We’ll start outside, where people are introduced to your design preferences and tastes, then discuss the effect of color on your interior space.
- Your home architectural style—Warm up a stately Colonial with crisp blue-grays and contrasting white trim; dress up a modest Cottage with dark window trim and a vibrant blue or orange-yellow front door.
- Other homes in the neighborhood—The key is to use color that sets your home apart from other homes while still fitting in with the community. Add a bold color to make your main entry or garage door pop.
- Landscaping—Incorporate or contrast one or more colors from your garden into your exterior color palette. Work the dynamism of lavender lilies into your door and window trim or contrast bright yellow pansies with a warm brown exterior.
- Other exterior elements—Choose colors that work well with the color schemes of patio furniture and decorations, deck and pathway designs and other details of your outdoor environment.
- Connect with exterior color—Your entire home is a giant color wheel, so always consider your siding color when selecting interior shades. Use color progression to connect your exterior to your interior. Pick up bold green and orange landscaping colors and carry them through your entrance onto accent walls, fabrics, furniture cushions and artwork.
- Purpose of the room—Serene reflection favors cool blue or green shades; lively conversation thrives amid warm reds and yellows.
- Express color with more than paint—You can connect rooms and complement colors with cabinetry, permanent fixtures, lamp bases and shades, accent pillows, throws and artwork.
Tired of consulting with yourself? Try a design expert.
If you have trouble choosing a color palette on your own, reach out to a design professional.
“When someone calls me, they are looking for solutions,” says designer Leslie Tunney of Leslie Tunney Interiors. “And I come in and ask questions about how you live, your family, things that you’re drawn to. Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Let me see your favorite blouse,’ or I’ll even look at their car.”
Tunney always considers the home’s exterior in her designs. “The exterior should serve as the first impression, and upon walking into the home, there should be a continuity and a further expression of your style.”
Express yourself through color. You have the tools.
Get an instant accent tone recommendation with Royal’s Color Combination tool. Immerse yourself in color inspiration, with Color Explorer. For nature-inspired ideas, check out some of these 2016 color trends. Or take our quiz to find your perfect color combination.