Yes, color psychology can help you create a desired mood in interior design.
However, many psychological effects of color are based on cultural rules or personal life experiences. Did you know, for example, that pink was considered the "correct" color for American baby boys as recently as the 1920s and 1930s? (And yes, blue was for baby girls!)
Click a color swatch for the psychological effects of specific colors:
Our psychological responses to color aren't necessarily hardwired into our system.
So don't worry about 'getting it right' - this is definitely not an exact science!
No color has scientifically proven, long-term effects that are the same for all humans.
Still, research does show that we all share some basic responses to color. So when you set out to decorate your home, color psychology can provide you with a general list of the most promising color candidates for the effects you want to achieve.
Here are some general guidelines for applying the psychology of color in interior design and decorating:
Even though we humans respond to colors in similar ways, the concrete psychological
effects of any given color won't necessarily be the same for you as for your sister.
Or for someone from the other side of the globe, for that matter. Here's why:
If you share a home with others, choosing home decorating colors can be a very interesting process ...
... because people tend to disagree vehemently on what colors look good (and make them feel good) and which ones don't.
Before you settle on an interior color scheme, be clear about how you will use a room, and at which times of the day.
The lighting makes a big difference to how a color looks, and how it affects you.
For example, if you're using your bedroom only at night (and in soft lamplight), painting the walls a deep velvety magenta can create a really luxurious effect. However, the color won't look particularly great on a bright, sunny morning.
And if you're using this room to work in during the day, you might find 'deep magenta' rather suffocating.
Ask yourself, how do I want to feel when I'm in this room? - Calm and focused? Energized? Relaxed? Secure? Then, find a choice of colors that can promote these moods.
Trim your color choices down to those that work with your furniture and non-negotiable elements (e.g. curtains, bed spread, wall art, special items - more about this here!)
Don't believe everything you read about color psychology in interior design. Take it with a pinch, or rather, a fistful of salt. As a science, the psychology of color (in interior design and elsewhere) is very young.
Trust your own senses. It's what you enjoy that counts.
I was recently contacted by a furniture merchant who was looking for someone to help them generate media attention by discussing color psychology in the context of people's furniture choices and decorating colors. (The above question was given as an example of how they wanted to use the psychology of color in their marketing).
Here's my current thinking about this kind of approach:
1. As far as I know, color psychology experts are not saying that all hues, tints and shades of a color will elicit the exact same response in all humans.
If you want to make meaningful statements about color psychology, you need to be specific about the exact hue you're talking about. What kind of brown? Double espresso or café au lait? Reddish, yellowish, greenish, purplish?
There are more hues of brown than you can shake a paintbrush at, and you'll find lots of people who like one type of brown hues (e.g. deep mahogany) and hate another (e.g. aged yellowish oak).
In other words, the question "If someone has a brown lounge, what does that mean about them?" is a very reduced, pop 'color psychology test' question.
2. People's responses to particular colors don't "mean" anything about these people.
People are attracted to colors for different reasons - memories, previous experiences, the way a color makes them look, or the way it combines with other colors they already have in their home (hardly anyone's lounge is just "brown").
I have not come across any serious color psychology researcher who claims that people's general color preferences "mean" something about those people (to say nothing of cultural differences).
If a furniture merchant claimed to know what my personal color choices "mean" about me, or if they used some kind of "expert" in color and psychology to make that claim - I would give them a wide berth and buy my furniture elsewhere :-)
So, to sum up: If you have a brown lounge, what does that mean about you? Zilch. Nada. Absolutely zippo.