The science of color has always intrigued me. I often wonder why I'm attracted to certain colors of clothing, cars, and furniture. Is it genetic? Is it an attempt to be trendy? Is my subconscious really guiding my color selections? I'm not a scientist. Nor do I know the answers to my own questions. However, one thing is for certain: Colors do have an impact on our moods and our productivity.
Designers and architects go to great lengths to create spaces that are conducive to whatever function the space is intended for. For example, classrooms used to be built more like jail cells (and still are, according to some students), with limited windows for fewer distractions. But some people believe that large windows with views of the colors of nature can actually improve productivity. Many new office complexes are built so that everyone has an outside view (either directly or indirectly).
Do not underestimate the power of color. Certain colors and color relationships can irritate, cause headaches, or make you feel sick. Other colors and color combinations are healing and soothing and make us more productive. There are over 16.8 million different hues of color, of which the human eye can discern about 7 to 10 million of these. So, we've got a lot of color to work with. That makes the margin of error pretty high. So before you get out the paint brush, let's take a brief look at some of the basic colors and their psychological impacts.
RED: Raises the room's energy level. If you want to stir up excitement, it's a good choice. Beware it can raise blood pressure, speed respiration and heart rate.
CRIMSON: This color can make people feel irritable. It can invoke feelings of rage and hostility (think Crimson Tide vs. Auburn). Avoid painting your office or home crimson as it will likely breakdown peace and harmony.
YELLOW: It communicates happiness. It's energizing and uplifting. However, as a main room color it can cause people to lose their temper. Babies tend to cry more in an all yellow room.
BLUE: Ahhh, blue — my favorite color. It's reduces blood pressure, slows respiration and heart rate. It encourages relaxation (like when I'm on the beach looking at the turquoise blue waters of the ocean). Some blues however, can make you feel chilly. Dark blues, especially, can evoke a feeling of sadness.
GREEN: It's considered the most restful color for the eye. It encourages unwinding, togetherness and comfort. It's also believed to help fertility, making it a great choice for the bedroom (depending on your point of view).
PURPLE: The darkest values of purple suggested drama, sophistication and wealth. It's usually associated with luxury and royalty. Lighter hues of purple can be quite relaxing.
ORANGE: Like red, orange can evoke excitement and enthusiasm. It brings out emotions. Ancient societies felt orange had healing powers and increased energy levels.
NEUTRALS: Colors like black, white, gray, and brown are typically used as background or accent colors. Gray has been known to promote creativity. This is probably because it is so neutral, your mind has no distractions and has no choice but to create something interesting.
Colors do impact our psyche whether we know it or not. Choosing the right ones for walls, furniture, window coverings, accents, etc. are important when it comes to creating the proper mood and encouraging the proper activity and behavior. For example, I would not recommend an all red classroom for kindergarten kids. But if you're trying to stir up some excitement in an activity corner, red might be the right choice. As with all things in life, careful planning and moderation is the key. Color is no exception.