Color Psychology: Using Room Design to Improve Your Mood

Tino Go

July 2, 2021

3 min read

Color has a profound effect on the way we behave and feel. It’s why bedrooms are typically painted in soothing hues while kitchens are more vibrant. It’s also why the Baru team invested in developing more color (and shade) options for our furniture.

Applying color psychology to interior design can help give a room more life, uplift your mood, and influence the way in which you furnish a new home

What is Color Psychology?

You don’t need to be an art history major (or interior designer) to fully reap the benefits of color psychology. Very simply put, it refers to the way certains colors bring out certain moods and behaviors--from the obvious influences to the not so obvious (like how the color of food can affect its taste). It also plays a part in feng shui philosophy, which attaches special elements and meanings to different colors. 

Deciding what color would work best for your living space boils down to two major questions: Warm or cool undertone? Bright or muted saturation?

Warm undertones make spaces feel cozier and more intimate. In larger or open-space rooms, these shades can help to ground furniture and divide different areas. In small rooms, these shades can inadvertently make a space uncomfortable by making the already small space feel even smaller. Typical colors include dark reds, oranges, and browns. 

Cool undertones have the opposite effect. They make spaces feel more open and expansive. In small spaces they give a sense of airiness. In already large spaces, however, they might make a room feel cold. Cool colors (like purples and blues) also tend to evoke feelings of calm and tranquility. So a soothing blue or grey may be just the thing for a WFH office space or bedroom. 

Your second choice is between brighter, saturated colors and muted, pastel shades. 

Brighter hues tend to turn up a color’s influence to the max. In moderation, bright reds and yellows are energizing and inviting. When done in excess, like in most fast-food chains, bright reds and yellows give off a rushed sensation. They spur us to act faster and hurry. 

Muted hues, as you might expect, have the opposite effect. Coffees and bistros will use neutral and muted colors to relax guests and keep them at their table for longer. 

Since different areas of a home are meant for different purposes, most people use a combination of warm, cool, bright, and pastel colors when decorating. And you don’t need to paint every wall to achieve the desired effect. Accessorize with colored decor and customize furniture finishings to match the room’s undertone (a warm oak or cool matte black, for instance). And when in doubt: buy colored throw pillows.