Color Theory in Interior Design

design tips

by Deana Duffek

Back to All Posts
Color Theory in Interior Design

Designing our home is a lot more than furniture, drapery, and artwork. Whether shifting into a new house or just going for a remodel, there are many important decisions we have to make. One of the essential aspects of interior design is Color Theory. 

Colors have the ability to transform the entire feeling, ambiance, and mood of a space. They are considered to be a visual language that can communicate and showcase our personalities and feelings. 

However, you can’t randomly go and pick any shades — there is a well-defined art and science behind the color theory. Dive into this blog to learn the importance of colors in upgrading your interior design to the next level.

What Is The Color Theory?

Color evokes feeling. It incites emotion. The color theory is the logic behind how we process and interpret colors. It includes various color combinations, their respective proportions, and recommendations for palettes that work well when combined.  Such decisions serve a vital purpose in the overall atmosphere of your home or space. Color meanings can have an impact on why we prefer certain colors over others. The same color can also have different meanings that are dependent on our upbringing, gender, location, values, and a variety of other factors. 

This theory has been derived from the color wheel, which has three different colors, namely:

  • Primary Colors: Involves red, yellow, and blue hues
  • Secondary Colors: Green, purple, and orange, formed by mixing primary colors
  • Tertiary Colors: Created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color resulting in red-orange and blue-green

The Impact Created By Color

Colors can influence our mood, add to the ambiance, and affect our emotional well-being. With the help of colors, you can transform your home into a place of stimulation or tranquility. For example, lighter colors in the bedroom can create a calm and open feeling, while darker colors can be used in the living room to make a bold statement. 

While it is evident that people react differently to specific shades, there are some generalized rules followed by interior designers to decide how the basic color theory impacts a space. Let’s consider the example of a home office. If you are a designer and want to spark creativity, colors like gray would work best for you as people are shown to be more creative when surrounded by the color gray. On the other hand, if you want to calm an overstimulated mind and increase focus, try choosing relaxing colors like green and brown. Greens are also strongly correlated with nature and can evoke a sense of peace and serenity, as seen in hospitals throughout the years.

Choosing Paint Colors For A Cohesive Color Scheme 

Even though you have separate rooms in your home, choosing a color palette that flows seamlessly throughout the space is important. An abrupt and unsettling impact may be created if every room has a starkly different palette. So, you must give the colors and patterns a calming balance to create a connected interior. Cohesion is key. We often tell clients to avoid the easter egg effect of painting several rooms in various colors. 

Going for a monochromatic color scheme is ideal if you have an open floor plan. For people who prefer having a little variety, basing the palette on sight lines from one room to another can help create a visual connection. 

Keep In Mind The Psychological Effects Of Colors 

When deciding the color palette for any space, there are two important things to consider. First, what is the purpose of the space that you are designing? Rooms that are reserved for recharging and relaxing, such as a bedroom, should have soothing hues.  Active colors that have brighter tones are fit for rooms that need to evoke energy and provide stimulation. Pastel and neutral shades, also called passive colors are suited best in places that shouldn’t be too distracting.

Second, the psychology of colors shall be kept in mind. 

  • Blue: It is associated with peace and has a gentle effect. In color psychology, blue’s color meaning ties closely to the sea and the sky. Stability, harmony, peace, calm and trust are just some of the feelings surrounding the color blue.
    • Fun Fact: people fall asleep more in blue cars than other cars and blue can cause one to have a curved appetite, hence, the “blue plate special”. 
  • Green: A soothing color that carries a relaxing vibe. In color psychology, green is highly connected to nature and money. Growth, fertility, health, and generosity are some of the positive color meanings for the color.
    • Fun Fact: wealthy people often (inadvertently) surround themselves with the color green
  • Pink: Represents a blissful and joyful space
    • Fun Fact: Pink is thought to have a calming effect. One shade known as “drunk-tank pink” is sometimes used in prisons to calm inmates.
  • Yellow: Expresses energetic feelings. It can bring negative feelings if used excessively. Yellow can also be associated with deceit and cowardice, though (calling someone yellow is calling them a coward).
    • Fun Fact: In days gone by, oftentimes people would paint their infant’s room pink for a girl and blue for a boy, yellow if they did not know the sex. Research shows that infants cry more in yellow rooms than others. So while yellow can be associated with “happiness and sunshine” – it can also be associated with anxiety. 


The color theory isn’t meant to make interior design complicated. Just make sure to choose colors that speak your personal style and help you accomplish the desired outcome…oh, and have fun while creating your dream space! 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.