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Mood Color Guide: How to Choose Room Paint Colors


Find out what colors evoke what moods so you can set the tone for your home and décor.

Have you ever found yourself in a new space or setting and noticed your mood changed? Perhaps you were soothed by the sun-bleached blues, greens, and sand colors of the seaside. Perhaps you were energized by the bright lights and vibrant colors of a downtown cityscape. Maybe the earthy hues of the countryside bring you peace and harmony. Bringing those colors into your home is a great way to change the energy and vibe in your space and can make a difference in the way you feel from your first cup of coffee in the morning until you close your eyes at bedtime.


How to Choose Room Paint Colors

There are as many theories on room paint as there are colors. “A dark color will make your room look smaller.” “Too many different colors will make the house look chopped up.” “You must keep one neutral color throughout to appeal to as many people as possible.” All of us have been told these so-called “rules” for paint colors.

In reality, however, many of these “rules” are not really rules at all, and today’s homes boast a wide variety of styles, colors, and paint finishes. A home can be elegant and sophisticated without being neutral or blah, and a vibrant color palette can work for any home style.

Thus, the most important question when choosing a new color to paint a room or an entire home is “How does that color make you feel?” Whether it reminds you of a favorite place or changes your energy level, your response to a color is what really counts.


Color Psychology  

Scientists have long known that color can affect mood and behavior. Advertisers use this knowledge when designing logos. Commercial builders use tinted lights to keep people calm or to make workers more productive. Here are just a few of the ways that color communicates to our subconscious.


Blue is a favorite color for almost any home interior. Because it is available in so many shades, it can work in a variety of settings and in spaces both dark and light-filled. While some shades are considered more masculine, there are many shades that work well in more feminine decors. Blue is considered a soothing color and is often used in commercial spaces to bring calm and peace to the surroundings.

While we will talk more about what colors work well in what spaces, the calming properties of blue make it an ideal candidate for tranquil flex rooms and personal retreats.


Green is associated with nature and is a great way to bring the natural world into your home’s interior. Green shades promote feelings of peace and harmony in the home. A green home may even be good for you -- some studies find that it can actually decrease blood pressure!


Red is a high energy color associated with love, romance, and power. It is a favorite for front doors because it is memorable and attention-getting, instantly adding to curb appeal. It is also a popular shade hue for dining rooms and even informal recreational spaces.


Yellow is a cheerful shade often associated with sunshine and happiness. It makes a great choice for a breakfast room or kitchen, while a yellow foyer can up your entryway décor and help people feel good every time they enter your home.


Gray has been a sophisticated choice for several years now, featuring as a favored option for those looking for a neutral backdrop in their home that’s a little more special than off-white or beige. Gray’s versatility -- with shades from pale dove to charcoal -- make it an elegant option for every room in your home.


What Color Should I Paint My Room? A Color FAQ.  

If you are thinking about painting your bedroom, you have many beautiful options. And don’t limit yourself to just one! You may find that centering your bed on an accent wall in one color, then painting the rest of the room in a complementary shade, will create a look you love.

Which is the best color bedroom? 

That depends on what you’re going for. If you’re looking for a soothing and restful spaces to be your oasis from the hustle and bustle of everyday, you may find that a blue or green shade suits. If you’re looking for a bright, energetic color to help you jump out of bed in the morning full of energy, a yellow or orange in a citrusy shade might be the right choice. Looking for minimalist sophistication? Try a black and white color scheme, with paint colors in a quiet shade of gray or silver.

How do I pick color for my room? 

One of the best ways to choose a color is to start with a bit of inspiration, then work your way out to the walls. Find a piece of art, a throw pillow, or even a piece of clothing or jewelry that inspires you. If it’s patterned, choose a color from the pattern to duplicate on the walls. If it’s a solid, paint your walls in a shade of that same color. You can decorate your home in shades of that tone or choose one or two complementary colors and ensure that everything in the room is in one of those shades.

What color should I paint my room to make it look bigger? 

While the traditional answer is “the lighter the better,” in reality you can paint even very small spaces in dark or bold colors. The key is playing up other elements of the room to draw the eye up and around. Paint the ceiling and crown molding a light, contrasting color to make the room appear taller. Paint a wall with windows a lighter color than the rest of the room to bring in more natural light. Choose pale décor to contrast with the darker walls. The only rule? What you say goes!

What is the most relaxing color to paint a bedroom? 

Generally, green is considered the most relaxing color, with soothing physiological effects. Don’t feel limited by this, however -- most colors have a range of shades and even “hot” colors like yellow, orange, and red might have pale or muted shades that you’ll find relaxing.


Room Color Ideas

Regardless of color, your interior paint should tell a color story throughout your home, differentiating spaces for your entire family. Think about choosing colors that work in a variety of ways.

Cohesive and Coordinated 

If you’re choosing colors for your entire interior, think about choosing a variety of shades in one color. Use the central color you chose in your living room and kitchen, a darker shade of the same color in your dining room and powder room, a lighter shade in the foyer, hallways, and stairwell. Use varying shades of that same color in bedrooms, bathrooms, and guest rooms as well to create a unified color palette that’s anything but neutral.

Children’s Rooms

Don’t feel limited to old-fashioned blue for boys and pink for girls. Today’s nurseries, bedrooms, and playrooms take advantage of a variety of colors, from bright primaries to soothing neutrals. Remember, your child’s tastes will change frequently so painting their room their “favorite” color might only work for the next few weeks or months. Instead, choose a color that you think will last for the long-term, changing out artwork, décor, and bedding to update the room as needed.

Guest Spaces

The emphasis in guest rooms or suites is on comfort and elegance. Consider painting a guest space, au pair suite, or in-law suite in a soothing shade of green or blue for a relaxing retreat. Alternatively, you may want to paint it in a lighter or darker shade of the same hue you’ve used throughout the main living areas of the home. Whatever the color, try to help guest feel at ease by having all the guest room essentials close at hand.


Whatever your style, you’re sure to find the paint color that works for you and your home. Want more information on your paint options? Check out our blog post for tips on choosing paint sheen and finishes.


Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Edgar Murdock

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 10.10.18

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