What Do Colors Mean?

In general, warm colors are more active and energizing, and cool colors are calming. According to surgeon Edwin Babbitt, warm colors can even raise your blood pressure and strengthen you, whereas cool colors can minimize inflammation, lower blood pressure, and help de-stress. (This might be part of the reason blue is the most popular bedroom paint color.) Let’s dig into more detail about specific colors and their associations.

Red: This is the boldest, most passionate color. Nothing wakes you up quite like heirloom tomato red. It’s also quite sensual (see: Valentine’s Day). To incorporate red in the bedroom, use it sparingly for accents, such as trim or throw pillows. For less of a jolt, experiment with burgundy and less alarming hues of red. Rich warm wood or slate gray both comes alive with touches of red. Or try an analogous color palette that pairs red with rich purples and blues. A little goes a long way.

Orange: Nothing says warmth and fun like citrus hues. A friendly orange is welcoming and bright without being quite as aggressive as red. Orange perks up your appetite, making it a terrific kitchen paint color. Don’t balk at the ‘70s rust associations, either — today’s orange can be a soothing creamsicle or flattering peach. Blood orange provides a sweet spot of variety in an autumnal palette with browns and maroon.

orange room

Source: Pinterest

Yellow: Perhaps the happiest and most energetic color, yellow injects a bolt of pizazz wherever you use it. It can help you wake up and concentrate, according to interior designer DeAnna Radaj, but too much can make you restless or even anxious (perhaps why babies are said to cry more in yellow nurseries). Yellow is a popular accent color in kitchens and offices, bringing a dash of optimism wherever you use it.

Green: Want a more creative bedroom color than classic blue? Green is a great choice, because it’s tranquil and associated with health and growth. Somehow green is cheerful and relaxing at the same time, and it may even reduce fatigue. A fresh, grassy green pairs effortlessly with bamboo, or a dark emerald green is a classy complement for chestnut or oak. It’s hard to go wrong with green (unless you wind up with split pea, of course).

green room

Source: Peter Kemmer

Blue: According to Freshome, blue is the most productive color, so it’s an excellent paint choice for your office. But be careful with navy, as darker blues in large quantities can give you the blues. For bigger spaces, opt for gentle or bright blues such as sky blue, periwinkle, and robin’s egg blue. Combine it with green to create a spa-like natural retreat, spice it up with dots of mango, or stick to timeless blue and white.

Purple: Tones, shades, and tints of purple — like a soft lavender — can be soothing like blue, but with added warmth (think of a French garden). Purple doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly feminine, either; small doses of eggplant can give depth to neutrals or look striking with forest green. Gem hues like bright fuchsia are more glamorous and stimulating.

purple room

Source: Pinterest

Pink: Technically, pink is just a tint of red. While often associated with little girls, a splash of flamingo in an otherwise silver and white room can be just the pep that was needed. It also goes well with navy (safe) or lime green (bold). Pink paint is playful and just plain fun. It’s also associated with compassion and love.

Stay tuned, because in future posts, I’ll cover the best paint color palettes for the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and more!

What’s your favorite paint color? Do you have any tried-and-true color schemes? Let me know in the comments.


Read more about color in our next post How to Create Kitchen Color Schemes



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