Room color psychology plays a major role in how our rooms look and feel. But as individuals we all perceive color differently. This can explain why people have different “favorite” colors or why people have different tastes when it comes to decorating.  So, when decorating a room in your home, your idea of the perfect color may be different then someone else’s perfect color.

Color psychology can also help us to “fix” issues we may have in our home. For example, like making a small space feel larger, changing the temperature of a room to make it feel warmer, or trying to make a room feel more welcoming.

colorful office area

As a decorator I need to understand the psychology of color and know how different colors affect different people, and different spaces.  

Let’s learn how we can use color to our advantage to not only get the perfect look for our rooms, but also to “fix” problems in these rooms.

1. Color, or color value, can give us contrast


Let’s suppose you installed a white marble fireplace surround you saw in a magazine that you fell in love with.  But, now that it’s in your home your not crazy about it.  My job as a decorator is to keep you from ripping out that fireplace and installing a new one, only to find you don’t like that one either.

If you loved that fireplace surround in a magazine, most likely it’s the environment that surrounds it that is keeping you from loving it in your home.  

If your walls surrounding the fireplace are a neutral or a light color, then that white marble is just going to fade away into that wall.  (Keep in mind, that may be what your trying to achieve.) But if you wanted that fireplace to be a focal point and really stand out in the room, then contrast is what your looking for.  

To make something stand out you need contrast to make that happen.  You can achieve this by using a contrasting color or even using a different value of the same color.

Contrasting color is achieved using a color wheel.  Usually you can find a contrasting color by picking a color directly across from it on the color wheel.  This will give you the greatest contrast using color. 


Value is simply the lightness or darkness of a color.  If you add white to a color you are tinting the color to a lighter value.  If you add black to a color you are creating a darker hue of that color.

So, in this example, it’s pretty easy to provide contrast to a white marble.  You could pretty much use any color you want (stay away from white, light beige, or light gray).  Use any color, or a dark value of any color, and you will achieve the contrast you need to make that fireplace stand out. See how this achieves a completely different look than the picture above? Both are equally beautiful but give a totally different feel.

By using a contrasting color you will be using room color psychology to trick the mind into seeing a chosen focal point among many other items in the room.

Use a monochromatic color scheme to avoid contrast

Now, let’s assume you want to achieve the opposite effect and make something disappear or fade into the surrounding area.  You can use room color psychology to hide or disguise features in a room by making them blend into a wall, or become less obvious, by using the same value or color.  Monochromatic color schemes work well for this.

A Monochromatic color scheme is using one color only with different values of that color. (Light and darkness)

light blue and cream living room

Let’s say you have two small, ugly, windows that you want window treatments for, but the last thing you want is to draw attention to them. You can use the same color, or the same color value, to achieve this. 

In the example above the walls are a light blue color.  They used the same color for the window treatments, sofa, and ottoman, and a beige color with the same value (light tint) for the chair, chest and legs on the ottoman.  This coordinates nicely without drawing attention to any one object in the room.  This is a great example of a monochromatic color scheme.

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