The Best Color for Every Wall

By Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews is a freelance writer and editor living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in print or online at Shape, Prevention, Cosmo For Latinas and Men's Fitness.

According to science, the scents we breathe and the colors we look at may actually affect our emotions and mood. Nifty, right? Before you select a paint color for your bedroom or a scented candle for your office, take a peek your best options. While the scientific study of color and its ability to affect psychological functioning is still in its nascent stages, some of the early findings have been stunning.

Yellow is the color of energy. One University of Rochester study found yellow, along with red, to be stimulating and forceful. The color is said to stimulate the ego, usher in feelings of optimism and boost productivity. Of course, the intensity you experience on seeing yellow depends on the strength and brightness of the shade. Low-saturation, faded-looking shades are less potent.

An interesting 2012 UC Berkeley study in the journal Antrhozoos found that orange cats were perceived by people as friendly, whereas white or black cats were considered antisocial. The color orange tends to elicit feelings of warmth and comfort. It’s an excellent shade for a living room, where you want people to feel encouraged to socialize.

It’s crisp, cool and tranquil. You may feel serenity when you enter a space shrouded in shades of blue. (Ever notice how spas and their products often come in blue tones?) And a 2009 study published in Science found that people in blue surroundings were more creative and out-of-the-box thinkers than those surrounded by red. The study’s researchers explained that this is likely due to our associations of blue found in nature (flowing water, oceans, rivers, the sky), all of which are are linked to openness, calm and peace.

In a 2011 University of Rochester study, the color green was linked to increased creativity. Researchers discovered that study subjects who glanced at the color briefly before completing a creative task produced more innovative work than those who looked at white, gray, red and blue. Researchers point out that across history, the color green in culture has been associated with life, growth, nature, renewal and fertility. Even the etymological root of the word green is “grow.”

Along with yellow, red has been associated with action as opposed to rest. According to researchers of the aforementioned Science study, the color inspires closer attention to detail, alertness and vigilance. This is likely why red is chosen for stop signs and fire tracks -- and why it should be kept out of your bedroom. 

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