The Power of Color: Understanding Its Subtle Impact on Mood and Behavior

Ever wandered into a room and noticed your stress level rose for no perceptible reason? Or wondered why most waiting rooms are a ‘bland-scape’ of taupe and other neutral tones? Often, we forget that our environment has a direct impact on how we think and feel, and that includes the color of the room we’re in!

The Baker-Miller Pink effect

In the late 1970’s, researcher, Alexander G. Shauss, convinced the directors (Baker and Miller) of a Naval correctional institute to paint inmate’s walls pink. Shauss postulated the color would have a positive effect on the prisoners’ emotional states, and that it did! After just 15 minutes of exposure, the color was found to show a short-term decrease in aggression and violent behavior, including lowering heart rate and blood pressure.

Baker-Miller Pink has even been shown to help suppress the appetite, which is one of the reasons why celebrity, Kendall Jenner, painted a room inside her house this color.

‘Pretty in pink’ takes on a whole new meaning here, doesn’t it? ;)

In another study, researchers assessed the effects on male students of three different color-schemes (cream, pink and blue) inside a classroom. The results showed that color definitely impacted students’ perceptual performance.

How color affects us

Based on studies like those above, humans seem to be affected by color on a primal level. Warmer colors tend to make us feel excited, agitated, even aggressive, and cooler tones tend to calm, relax and comfort us. Brighter colors tend to be associated with more positive emotional associations, while darker tones elicit more negative ones.

But, just like art, there’s an intensely personal aspect to the impact of colors as well, because colors affect us all differently.

Just go over to a friend’s place and have a look at their living room walls. Ask yourself what you really think of their fiery red feature wall – or better yet, ask yourself how it makes you feel.

Choose your colors wisely

The problem is we often choose colors not by how we are affected by them, but by the current trends of the day. This means (in some crazy dimension) blazing ruby might be a popular bedroom paint option but since this color is more likely than others to subtly increase your heart rate, it's probably not the best option for you, as it could interfere with a good night's sleep!

Pinpoint your ‘joy-colors’

So if a nice shade of pink can calm us down, then perhaps a new shade of the right color can make our homes feel like more of an oasis!

To do that, you first need to discover which colors trigger your joy meter! First, grab a swatch of colors from your neighborhood home improvement store, then sit down at the kitchen table with a pencil and paper. You want to try and look at the colors organically, ie. not on a screen, and jot down any feelings or memories associated with them.

Perhaps that brilliant blue aqua reminds you of a scuba diving trip you took in the South Pacific? Maybe that soft yellow reminds you of your grandmother’s sunflower garden? Whatever memories, feelings, or descriptions that pop into your mind, write them down! In this way, you can match colors to areas in your home that you’d like to ‘feel’ a certain way.

Now that you have your palette, let’s look at some ways you can surround yourself with them!

Creative color ideas to bump up your joy meter

Begin by pulling out your trusty color-notes, and wander through your home. Inside each room, jot down the type of atmosphere you’d like to create, and once you’re done, you can start cross-referencing rooms with colors!

Once you’ve chosen your ‘joy-colors’, it’s time for the fun part: redecorating.

Paint the walls

If blue-green brings out your inner mermaid, try painting your bedroom with that calming, dreamy color. Perhaps a nice mustard yellow feature wall is needed for the living room to stir up energetic conversation. Just watch how you (and your friends and family) are affected by your color choices! ;)

Switch out your home decor

You don’t need to revamp every room in the house to be influenced by color! Hit up vintage shops and home decor stores to find a few simple items that can bump up the ‘color volume’ inside your desired spaces.

Create DIY art

Not only do adult coloring books help relieve anxiety, but you may also wind up with a small work of art by your own two hands. If you’re feeling shy about the end-result, try a paint-by-numbers pattern for a guaranteed masterpiece!

Creating your dream palette

Your home should be designed and decorated in ways that will make it feel like a haven – where joy, peace and happiness can surround you! By uncovering (and unpacking) how certain colors make you feel, you can make sure that your home is filled with your ideal colors!

Feature photo by David Pisnoy on Unsplash