Common Psychological Associations of Colors
WHITE - White is commonly associated with purity and innocence. White lacks colors of any kind.
Since it lacks color of any kind, it is the most popular choice as a background color, as all other
colors will be seen in sharp contrast. However, stark white is very cold and can, in some settings,
appear almost blue. There are many different shades and tints of white, from cool whites to warm whites.
By mixing cool whites with cool colors, and warm whites with warm colors, you will find the best
BLACK - Black is the inclusion of all colors, unlike white which has no color. Black creates
a sense of intrigue, depth and high drama. It is a color that some find magical and sexy and very
masculine. For others it is too somber and uncomfortable. Used sparingly, however, it can be extremely
elegant and can effectively highlight framed works of art and to set off other colors near it.
GRAY - Gray hoovers between black and white and has a huge array of shades and tints. Gray can
also be divided into a cool spectrum of choices and a warm spectrum. Used in combination with white,
it is a powerful color and has become fashionable, particularly as a background color. Gray is generally
used in contemporary and modern styles. It also works well with other colors. By itself it might
appear a bit drab and lonely, being associated with the stereotype of prisons and places of desolation,
but used correctly gray is very effective in setting off bold and colorful framed art.
BROWN - We think of our roots when we see brown. We also associate it with aging since most
things turn a shade of brown over time. We get an earthy feeling from lighter shades, such as beige,
tan and sand, while darker shades can feel a bit murky or foreboding. If you mix brown with shades
of red, it will absorb glare. Therefore, it is an effective color to use in rooms with harsh
light and where the climate is dry.
RED - Don't use red as the main color in your home, because it is a power color and full of
passion. Use it sparingly, as an accent only, and you'll get a lot of drama from it. A close
companion to brown, red represents the core of earthy tonality and rustic textures. If your home
is rooted in the landscape, shades of red like terra cotta or coral can be wonderful decorating
colors. For a really vibrant pop look, mix red with primary yellows, greens and blues. For instance,
paint it on your doors, window frames or other trim in the room. In a formal room, use a deep,
dark red, such as burgundy, to compliment the dark woods in the room.
PINK - A calmer tint of red, pink is considered very feminine and nurturing. A favourite hue
for bedrooms and children's rooms, it tends to create a sense of healing. Pink is predicted to
be a hot color for kitchens this year.
GREEN - How can you think green and not think nature? Green means growth. Centered in the
color spectrum, green stimulates feelings of harmony and peace. It is a great color to create balance.
A very highly adaptable color, green is restful and that makes its lighter shades and tints a good
neutral or background color. Its darker shades also absorb glare.
BLUE - Blue is often associated with such qualities as tranquility, serenity and introspection.
It embodies the spirit and energy of water. Believed to help induce sleep, it is a favourite in
bedrooms, particularly the lighter tints of blue. This is one reason blue, in all its different
shades and tints is so popular in Scandinavia, where there are long, dark winters and sparkling,
bright summers. Whenever you see blue and white together, you most certainly think of Sweden.
PURPLE - An artistic color, purple is considered meditative, spiritual and ritualistic.
It is also regarded as regal and dignified, conjuring up visions of a monarchy. It's darker shades,
such as plum, have more red and are associated with passion and fire. On the lighter side, tints
such as lavender and soft violet, create a lovely, subtle sense of solitude. This is ideal for
a bedroom, den or library.
YELLOW - Representing the sun, yellow makes us think of vitality, intellect and longevity.
Yellow is all about energy. A fashionalbe color for dining rooms and kitchens, pale warmer hues
such as lemon, invite friends and family to gather in these rooms. Use the darker shades like
saffron and sunflower, as accent colors on doors and window trims.
ORANGE - This is a popular color in the year 2003, particularly used in combination with
dark blues and greens and other earthy hues. A vibrant color, orange is associated with health and wellness. Use it in
rooms that are misty and where the climate is damp. Orange brings optimism and adds a welcoming
note to entryways and hallways. A stimulating color for conversation and idea exchange, orange
will brighten a space, especially in tropical climates.
Reprinted by permission from
Corporate Art Consulting Training