Color Me Cranky?

A few years ago we read Feathering The Nest by Tracy Hutson, which included a pretty interesting rundown of color theory and how certain tones can make you feel. Imagine our surprise when we read things like “couples argue most in yellow kitchens” and “orange may elevate the IQ as much as twelve points.” Here are a few other things we read (all according to Feathering The Nest):

flamenco CSP-1195Red- increases energy and enthusiasm; might hurt a person’s ability to settle down or concentrate for extended periods; is associated with energizing organs, blood circulation, and the senses of hearing, smell, taste, vision and touch; is recommended as an accent since it’s intense; generates excitement; instills confidence; can encourage attention to detail in smaller doses.

14 carrots CSP-1110Orange- is cheerful, bold, daring, and spontaneous; creates a sense of adventure; is reputed to increase milk production in new mothers and boost the appetite; encourages confidence and independence; takes creativity and enthusiasm to new levels; stimulates the lungs, respiration, and digestion.

hannah banana CSP-955Yellow- is the most visible color; sparks optimism, enlightenment, energy, and creativity; stimulates mental activity and memory; is said to encourage expression and communication; is believed to heighten mentality and strengthen muscles; can assist in concentration, memorization, visualization skills, speaking, and writing; some research showed that babies cried more in yellow rooms.

green thumb CSP-870Green- strengthens and preserves eyesight; alleviates depression, nervousness, and anxiety; is said to be the most refreshing color and the easiest on the eyes; brings peace, rest, hope, comfort, balance, and harmony; creates a sense of safety and security; is good for preemies or infants with gastroesophageal reflux syndrome.

wild blue yonder CSP-620Blue- is perceived as a constant in our lives since it’s the color of the ocean and the sky; is soothing, calming, tranquil, and peaceful; is used to help babies with respiratory distress syndrome; decreases heart rate; may encourage individuals to be trustworthy, is committed and dependable.

elderberry wine CSP-470Purple- is a rich uplifting color; may calm a colicky baby and foster peaceful sleep; inspires creativity and artistic talents; is associated with respect and spirituality; provides a sense of calmness; promotes inner strength; provides a soothing effect on the ears, eyes, and nervous system.

pink flamingo CSP-1175Pink- is often associated with kindness; is said to heal sadness; is sweet, calming, innocent; symbolizes youthfulness and softness; allows individuals to get in touch with their feelings.


camel hair CSP-285Brown- is a very grounding color; provides a feeling of order, reliability, and protection; has a deep connection to the earth; has natural and organic components; is believed to afford a sense of stability and wholeness.


espresso bean CSP-30Black- makes a room appear smaller for a cozy, stabilizing feeling; promotes a sense of bring grounded; is a submissive color; strengthens the ability to focus and gain a sense of self.


cloud white OC-130White- symbolizes cleanliness and new beginnings; aids in clear thinking and encourages clarity; is a pure and joyous color; generates a sense of balance and harmony; is associated with speedy healing; is a common color to treat depression.


So what do you guys think? Do these studies and opinions have you rethinking any color choices you’ve made in your home? Or do you think how a color makes YOU feel is the most important thing?

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6 thoughts on “Color Me Cranky?

  1. I loved color theory when we studied in a couple of my interior design classes in college (I’m not a designer, it was just a couple classes for my major). There are also a lot more negatives with a lot of the colors too. It is so interesting to see and think about what color does to us.

  2. While color theory has got to be interesting and useful for the design of schools, hospitals, prisons, and other large institutions, I think worrying too much about what these colors do to the general population is silly when planning home design. More important to ask, what do they do to the person living in the space? Brown wouldn’t stabilize me because I think I’d die of boredom. Of course, that means it’d be bringing me back to the Earth, but that would be a little too literal.

  3. Color can be one of the most difficult choices to make in a home. That’s why I spend time in showing my clients various color options before we pare it down to three or five.
    I can say after years of experience, it is always better to try a color on a 20 x 30 inch board of foamcore before you place brush in the bucket!
    Color is also very personal. For instance today after 20 years of a lovely straw yellow for my own front door, we are switching to Benjamin Moore’s ‘Heritage Red’. I cannot wait to start my project tomorrow. But, I am a ‘red’ color lover. It’s not for everyone. So, do your homework please! Do not, I repeat do not pick your paint color in the paint store.
    Here’s another professional hint: go for the color that looks a little ‘grayer’. Why, because all the outside light streaming into a room will make that one inch sample so much brighter on the wall than you can imagine. Again, paint at least one, better would be three sample colors before you purchase your paint.

    By the way, my goal and yours should be that you absolutely love the new color on the wall that you have chosen.


  4. To SS:
    Most of us have particular colors that aren’t our faves when they “fly solo”. As a designer (you may be a designer and face this, too?), I’m constantly challenged to find great solutions, whether certain “asks” are my personal faves or not. Every question has myriad solutions. It’s much easier to arrive at genius if I can set aside my personal bias. To that end, I offer a couple of thoughts in reference to your aversion to brown. Brown is a broad category, from creamy-light to caramel to mocha to deep chocolate. If I have a tendency to think of something as being traditionally “heavy”, I like to envision ways to interpret it as “light”. Or to offset it, to negate its typical interpretation. Translucence, for instance. Or, you could introduce it through small or subtle details, like nailhead/grosgrain trim on an ottoman or contrast piping on a chair or drapes…it can create a “grounding” effect without being heavy or overpowering. Pair it with any shade of purple/lavender/orchid/berry/blues/greens/turquoise…any of which could mix nicely with shades of soft, creamy yellow or mustard, potentially…whatever sparks you. Lotsa fun options that keep it miles from oppressive. :) Lately, each time I see a color I think I don’t care for, I play the “how could this work?” game with myself and I’m finding that I’m enjoying color more and more.

  5. Color theory is absolutely fascinating. And while it’s good to consider the possibility that certain colors may influence your mood, what’s most important when choosing color for your living space is to pick colors that you’re naturally drawn to. Most of us know what we like when we see it. If we tour a model home, for instance, in an instant you know if the color is something you can live with over time. The great thing is, if you make a mistake and pick a color that turns out to be all wrong for you … you can go back and change it!

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