Many people have known for a long time—at least on a subconscious level—that different colors can affect our behavior. We usually attempt to plan our wardrobes and decorate our homes in the color schemes that make us happy. But what is the correlation between color and emotion? The arts and sciences, alike, have attempted to discover this relationship for more than a few centuries. Back in the 19th century, Goethe published a piece entitled Theory of Colours which took a shot at answering this exact question. Today, psychologists are intent on making sense of the relationship between color and emotion, and these scientists’ work has yielded surprising findings. By understanding just a little bit about the psychology of color can give insight into your color preferences and help point you toward design decisions that can improve your mood every day.

Advertisers are famous for their powerful use of specific color psychology. By now, we have probably all heard the explanation that companies use the color red in casual-dining restaurants: the color scheme has proven to create a sense of immediacy in consumers and stimulate appetite. More often, however, brands go further than this with more subtle and powerful uses of color. A recent post in Business Insider on aesthetic and branding gives some illustrations of these choices and how they impact the buyer mindset. An excellent is Tiffany’s recognizable teal blue color. Tiffany’s cleverly adopts a color which many “associate with logic and communication. It’s also serene, like the ocean, and calming to look at.” But the shade is just as important. “The wrong tone of blue,” explains the article, can “appear cold, aloof and unapproachable.”

When selecting your home’s colors, remember to take a more critical look at features online or in home improvement publications. Rather than agonizing over the hidden meaning of a particular color, locate the examples that you like: How do the spaces make you feel? What schemes do they use? Don’t forget to note the shade and tone of the colors.

Colors have acquired deeper meanings from culture to culture. These representations often alter our psychological relationship with a particular color, but the connections between color and emotion extend farther than a mere conscious association. For example, purple has largely stood for wealth and royalty; today, purple can give a sense of luxury and grandeur. Just as often, however, the color can be taken to mean a whimsical color, possibly because of its association with magic. Regardless of a color’s associations, we may experience strong visceral reactions to colors without ever considering their deeper symbolic meaning. Since the societal meaning of colors can impact us on an intuitive level, considering the symbolism of a multitude of colors can help you better impose the moods projected by the different rooms in your home.

Plenty of color consultants recommend choosing a color scheme based on the function in each of the rooms in your home. Warmer colors (orange, red, yellow) and flat tones (brown, eggshell) have been thought to help conversing and create an inviting sense of warmth and connectivity. Because of this, colors like these can work well in a foyer or den. Additionally you might consider covering your home workspace in green colors, since these colors have been shown to facilitate productivity.

One of the best parts about designing custom homes is that you have total control over the environment that you surround yourself with. You can use colors to really bring some personality to your space, and create a colorful home that guests will be excited to visit.

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