Color Me Happy: Choosing Paint to Set the Mood for Each Room

An expert offers tips on harnessing the psychological power of color throughout your home.


This post comes from Shannon Lee of partner site Improvement Center.

The emotions attached to a room in your home go beyond the furniture, personal mementos, and placement of objects. The colors in that room can also have a huge impact on your mood, and thus can affect everything you think and feel when you walk into the space.

But where to start when it comes to color? Tenecia Harris, the founder and principal designer of sweet t design studio, is regularly featured on the Travel Channel and HGTV. She has plenty to say about the way color can flavor the mood of any room in your home.

The best colors for your home

There are millions of potential colors that might look great in your home. How do you even begin to narrow down those paint chips? Fortunately, there are some colors that seem to sway the mood for most of us, and that’s a great place to begin.

For the living room, Harris recommends something soothing. “Green is a great color for the living room. Similar to its blue base, it lowers stress levels and encourages relaxation, but it also has enough warmth, from its yellow base, to encourage social gatherings.”

Comfortable colors also come into play in the most relaxing place of all: the bedroom. “In a recent study, blue was shown to be the best color to sleep in,” Harris said. “It lowers blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. Finding the right shade is important. Go too dark, and it can be associated with depression. Some shades of pastel blue can be too cold to achieve¬†that relaxing spalike feeling when used in a room with minimal natural light.”

When it comes to the dining room, Harris points out that stimulating colors make a difference. “With natural daylight, red not only stimulates the appetite (hello McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, yummy!), but it also promotes conversation and brings people together. When seen in artificial light, the color is more muted and evokes a feeling of elegance and luxury.”

The same is true for the kitchen. “Yellow is a really good color for the kitchen as its energizing and uplifting. For the same appetite stimulating reason as described in the dining room, red is also a good color for the kitchen. It’s become more common over the years that the kitchen is the heart of the home, seen with open kitchen/living room plans that allow for gatherings centered in this room.”

Do you have trouble getting up and moving in the morning? The bathroom colors could boost your mood. “For those of us who are not morning people, orange and yellow are two good colors for bathrooms,” Harris said. “They are both cheerful and invigorating — think citrus — helping you wake up in the morning and get the day started. But if relaxing at the end of stressful days is more your goal, then the blue family is going to be the most soothing option.”

Pay attention to the light

No matter which color you choose for a particular room in the house, remember that light makes a huge difference. “Color itself does not exist in a vacuum. Natural light and artificial light impact colors differently and can the change the final product dramatically,” Harris said. “Red is a vibrant color. Pink is a soft color. Something that is red can look pink in bright light. To avoid selecting the wrong shade, paint a spot on all the walls in a room (or tape a paint chip on each wall) to see how light affects it at various times of the day.”

A final word about color

Ultimately, the colors that belong in your home are the ones that make you happiest — even if that means breaking all the conventional advice about hues. “Though certain colors can cause strong physical and emotional responses, ultimately the best color for your space is the color you want,” Harris advised. “Spend time in the room, get a sense of the light situation, and be honest with yourself, not only about how you want to use the space but how you actually will use the space.”

In fact, Harris knows firsthand the thrill of choosing a color simply because it feels right. “Purple is a creative stimulant making it the worst color to sleep in and a poor choice for bedrooms, but my bedroom is a deep purple. The dark shade evokes spiritual calm, embraces me like a cocoon, and it makes me feel luxurious and regal, like the queen I am.”

More from Improvement Center:

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Is your home telling you to remodel?
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Stacy Johnson

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