Mental health is an important topic, and chances are, you take steps to protect your mind and emotional wellbeing. And while there’s a lot of personal work we can do to take care of our mental health, outside factors play a big role, too.
In fact, interior décor color makes a huge impact on the mind and emotions.
Have heard that red is used in restaurants to encourage people to eat more? Or, that red encourages people to buy more? In these cases, red is used to stimulate people to behave in a certain way.
But does color really have the power to influence our behaviors and moods? According to some research, the answer seems to be, yes. And since most people spend the majority of their time indoors, interior décor color really matters.
The scientific connection between color and the brain
According to the director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research, Alexander Schauss, color can directly impact the mind.
As Schauss explains, “The electromagnetic energy of color interacts in some still unknown way with the pituitary and pineal glands and the hypothalamus, deep in the brain. These organs regulate the endocrine system, which controls many basic body functions and emotional responses.”
Just take a look at this study. Here, the colors of a classroom were changed from orange and white to light blue and royal blue. And instead of an orange carpet, they decorated the space with a neutral grey carpet. The researchers found that the children’s blood pressure dropped by nearly 20 percent. What’s more, the children exhibited better behavior and improved attention.
At a detention center in California, there’s a room painted entirely with a bubblegum pink color. And while it seems a bit strange, this is where they place manic and psychotic juveniles who behave violently. There, the kids calm down, stop using physical violence and usually fall asleep within minutes.
In just these two examples, alone, it’s clear that colors can have an impact on the mind and mood. However, there hasn’t been a whole lot of research surrounding color and mental health.
So, while researchers are still at work, trying to understand how color interacts with the specific brain regions, it seems that the current research suggests that it does have a powerful impact.
Some architects are definitely aware of the scientific connection between color and mind, and they choose colors to support the human brain. And now, you can, too.
Color isn’t just a decoration
While the research about color and mental health may be relatively recent, people have known about the power of color for decades.
As early as 1936, Faber Birren, a leader in applied color psychology, said, “The study of color is essentially a mental and psychological science, for the term color itself refers to a sensation.” And architects take color seriously when it comes time to design.
In fact, many architects believe that incorporating color in an architectural space isn’t just about decoration.
That’s because they’re not just creating a cool space. They’re creating a space for a specific purpose. And depending on the function of that space, certain colors can either support or interfere with that function.
For example, a classroom serves a much different purpose than a hospital room. And a kitchen functions much differently than a bedroom.
And the colors of these spaces really does matter, especially since we spend the majority of our time indoors. So, let’s take a look at different colors to see what sort of impact they can have on both mind and mood.
What colors represent and how they can make you feel
Let’s start by dividing colors into three groups: white colors, warm colors and cold colors. Now, let’s explore each group and break it down.
White can evoke a lot of different feelings. On the one hand, white can symbolize purity, innocence, goodness, safety, cleanliness, and refreshment. But on the other hand, white can feel a bit cold, sterile, lonely and distant.
Feng shui suggests white in kitchens and bathrooms, and even in living rooms and bedrooms. But the important question to ask yourself is how it makes you feel.
Red evokes strong emotions and feelings – both positive and negative. So, on the one hand, red represents passion, love, and warmth, but it can also be aggressive and hostile, too.
If red is used as an interior décor color, it can send an urgent, aggressive or dominant message.
This energetic color reminds you of optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement. But it’s definitely not a calming color. Think of construction workers, prison uniforms, and road signs. The orange color makes them hard to miss – and that’s sort of the whole point.
So, orange can be a great accent piece, but an orange carpet or a wall? That might be too stimulating.
Like red, yellow is a stimulating color, and depending on its shade, it can evoke lots of different responses, too. For example, it can be aggressive and attention-grabbing. Or, it can be cheery, sunny and inviting.
For this reason, you may not want this color in a room where you need to focus and relax.
There are so many different beautiful shades of blue, but in general, they evoke a sense of serenity and calmness. And perhaps this is why blue helps to increase productivity and creativity.
Like white, it can provide a sense of security, but also a feeling of sterility or coldness. How does blue make you feel?
Green represents nature and can provide a sense of balance, harmony, and calm. Therefore, different shades of green can be very relaxing, especially in a bedroom or living room.
And keeping indoor plants throughout your home can be a great way to incorporate nature’s signature color in your home.
Purple has long been associated with royalty and luxury. And some shades can still evoke a sense of wealth and abundance. For some individuals, purple helps to boost problem solving and creativity, too.
Light lavender shades can be very calming, while deep, lush plum colors can be very powerful. Therefore, purple might be most supportive of mental health when you use it as an accent color, rather than a dominating color.
Take a look around you – what colors do you see? Chances are, they’re influencing how you feel and think at this very moment. How can you adjust interior décor colors to support your mental health and feel good?