Does room color really change your mood?

When picking out wall colors for a new house, most people try to pick colors that they believe generate a certain mood. Most doctor’s offices and waiting rooms are pale blues and yellows. Some people paint their kitchens and entertainment rooms fun bright colors to evoke happiness and liveliness. To an everyday person, these are just colors that we associate with certain moods, but to scientists, there is a reason we make these associations.

Conceptual for many use: red chair and watch in the middle of some white chairs - rendering

There is a certain pattern that psychologists recommend when picking the colors to paint each room in the house. Warm colors, like reds, rust, and tan, should go in your living room. It’s believed that these colors promote the start of conversation. Some restaurant chains, like McDonald’s, having taken advantage of red promoting eating. So it’s not surprisingly that warm colors can be recommended in the kitchen, also. In bedrooms, clam blue, lavender, and other neutrals promote calm feelings and reduce stress. Workout rooms are recommended to be a mixture of blue-green, which promote happiness. And finally, the office should be green. According to David Freeman, green is the color of focus and concentration. Green is also a color that you can be surrounded by, for long periods of time, without being distracted.

It is difficult to test the effects of colors on mood, because each person feels certain emotions differently and to different severities. One study was done using a mood questionnaire that studied the emotional effects of colors on each participant, in a closed space. The participants were brought to locations where color was supposed to evoke a certain mood, like a bright red cafeteria. With about 460 participants, 332 of them fell between the ages of 17 and 24. The results show that 26% of the participants disliked brown the most, 21% disliked orange the most, and 13% disliked gray the most. The color blue was favored by 136, the color green by 92, yellow by 83, and red by 42. There results of this study are broken down further and can be seen here.

Even though we do not know the mechanism, studies like this show that color and mood do have a strong correlation. But with so many other psychological variables, it is very difficult to draw a line in the sand where certain colors equal certain moods. For example, if someone grew up with a blue living area, blue may grow to generate communication and comfort for that person. Or if a person’s favorite building is white inside, that person might find a sense of calm in other buildings that have a white interior. There is an endless number of third-variables that can affect a person’s mood in a certain colored room. Because of the many studies that have been done, and the common view among psychologists, it is clear that there is a correlation between color and emotion, but it is still unclear what the mechanism is that causes this correlationcolor-psychology


Take-home message: When painting your house, go with what colors feel right to you. If you think warm colors are supposed to make you hungry, but they make you anxious, don’t paint your kitchen walls red and orange.  But if you’re painting the inside of a waiting room, and you know light blue evokes relaxation, it might be a good idea to paint the walls light blue.

Room colors:

Photo 1

The study:

Photo 2:


3 thoughts on “Does room color really change your mood?

  1. dhc5097

    I found this blog post extremely interesting. Recently, I had the opportunity to get my room back at home repainted and I chose the color blue. Not much thinking went into this besides that blue is my favorite color. I never knew that certain colors brought out different emotions or moods, but now that I think about it colors do have an affect on me. Certain colors like yellow and red cause fatigue on my eyes so I would never paint my walls in that color. I found an article on,,20411073,00.html that discusses specific colors that enhance your mood in ways that give you; energy, happiness, and a calming relaxation feel.

  2. Michael Mandarino

    I’ve never really put too much thought into the color of the wall in a room I’ve been in, much less felt different in a room with different wall colors. The walls of my bedroom growing up were always beige so I guess I didn’t think about it much! Thanks for sharing these findings – they’re really interesting

  3. Savannah Stalnaker

    When I was in gifted art in middle school, we were also taught that blues can actually keep people awake. This is also tied into why looking at a computer screen can keep you up longer due to the blue tint most screens have, and why some phones now have a “Night Shift” option, in which you set a time that your phone screen will have a yellow-orange tint.

    This is due to blue light tends to be related to day time. So exposure to blue light, or a whole room painted blue, delays the sleep hormone in your brain as subconsciously, your brain believes it is still day time.

    When I was younger, my room was painted light blue with cloud patterns (I also had glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, so when the lights were off it looked like a night sky.) and while this sky themed room was really cool and peaceful to be in during the day, this is when my insomniac tendencies kicked in and I began reading or watching TV up until the wee hours of the morning. Later in life, I had my room painted red with black out curtains. I still stayed up late, probably due to getting a phone with no Night Shift, but then I also found myself taking so many naps I basically slept through the day after classes.

    So color really does effect mood, but also sleep and health. Nice light, pastel blues are wonderful for getting people energized and serene, and dark, deep warm colors are lovely for sleeping.

Leave a Reply