The right color can not only make or break a design scheme, it can change the way you experience a place. Think about it: You probably wouldn’t find it particularly relaxing if you went to a day spa where the walls were painted neon yellow.
Color adds, er, color to our daily lives. It can put us in certain moods and makes things more enjoyable to look at. On the other hand, how we experience color is very individual and depends on our previous experiences with a particular shade.
Consider the Room
“Some colors work better for some rooms than others, and it’s important to take the time to consider how a room color will make you feel,” agent Ben Falchi said.
Consider the purpose of the room you’re painting, and what mood you’d like to reflect when choosing your paint color.
Blues are a popular choice for bedrooms, as the colors can evoke a more soothing mood.
“Blue is a color that is typically synonymous with relaxation and serenity, and therefore is an ideal color choice for your bedroom or living room,” Falchi said.
Note that not every shade of a certain color is going to work. Falchi said that with blues, you want to avoid a lighter blue in the bedroom, as it can evoke a colder, starker feel while darker hues tend to be warmer and more inviting.
On the other hand, with a color like purple, you may want to avoid dark or deep hues in the bedroom because they can diminish light and feel suffocating, according to Falchi. A lighter hue will have more of a calming effect and promote a natural light feel, he said.
You may want these calming similar colors in your living room, as well, if that’s the place where you tend to go to relax and wind down after a long day.
If you ever do work in your living room or want to relax in a more nature-like environment, you may want to go with green, which Falchi said can also be a good color for a home office.
“Green invokes wealth and success, as well as reduces anxiety, and is synonymous with nature and being outdoors,” he said.
A living room can be a great spot to experiment with more energetic colors, provided you aren’t looking for a more relaxed vibe. A color like red can invoke a lot of strong feelings, Falchi said, like passion or romance.
“However, red is also associated with feelings of anger, rage and irritability,” he said, so he advised exercising caution when you think about using it in your home.
Brighter, mood-lifting colors are great for kitchens, where lots of activity and socializing tends to happen. However, kitchens can look great with a wide variety of color schemes, so don’t be afraid to go for a more muted or neutral color if that’s what you want.
Falchi recommends yellow for a kitchen, because of its ability to lift your mood and brighten a space.
If you want your kitchen to pop, you might consider red or deep blue. If you prefer a cleaner look, white will give you a nice, crisp space.
Depending on what look you’re hoping to achieve, you can go in a number of different directions with your bathroom color scheme, as well.
“A light green can be soothing and create a sense of tranquility and freshness,” Falchi said. “Bright blues/teals have an aquatic feel, while coppers can provide warmth and coziness.”
Whatever color you choose, make sure it’s appropriate for the size of the room. Bright or dark colors can be overwhelming in a smaller bathroom or in a tiny, windowless half-bath, but they might look better in a spacious master bathroom or in a larger room with lots of light.
When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with a neutral wall color.
For something simple and clean, try white walls. Provided you keep them free of smears and stains, they’ll add a feeling of neatness to your rooms.
“White or off-white rooms create a sense of space and cleanliness, and are especially perfect for those that identify as a ‘clean freak,’” Falchi said.
Neutrals are good all-purpose colors, so you don’t have to worry as much about your walls looking dated down the road.
“They complement every space and also are timeless,” agent Alex Van Buren said.
Neutrals can also be used to create the illusion of space and light.
“Typically, neutral colors make rooms look larger, and when you keep the same color tones throughout your apartment, it creates a nice flow,” Van Buren said.
Choose Personal Favorites
While many interior designers will tout certain colors’ abilities to evoke specific moods, color is ultimately a very personal thing that will evoke different feelings in different people. Instead of trying for something that is thought to induce a universal response, why not focus on your own response to certain colors? After all, you’re the one who has to live with your choices.
“Painting your walls in your apartment is one of the easiest ways to make your apartment feel like your home, while also making your space evoke the emotion you are looking for in each room,” agent Jallen Messersmith said.
Messersmith recalled working with a client whose favorite color was pink and thinking about how that color would work on the walls.
“After his move in, he sent me a picture of his pink bedroom, and when he wakes up each morning, he not only sees his favorite color but also feels happier than when the walls were gray,” he said.
Even if the color you want goes against the “rules” of which color should be used in a specific space, the most important thing is that you’re happy with it.
“Some people will respond very favorably to certain colors, and others may not. For example, I love the color green – it is absolutely my happy color, and I painted an accent wall in my living room a bright green and have a bright green carpet in my foyer,” agent Joan Kagan said.
As we mentioned, you should factor in a room’s size when deciding what color to paint its walls. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck painting your smaller rooms in pastels or pale neutrals. Experimenting with dark or deep hues in smaller spaces can provide very elegant or dramatic results.
The paint colors you choose can also help or hinder your efforts should you decide to sell your home. If you plan to put your house on the market soon and want to spruce up your walls with a fresh coat of paint, stick with neutrals.
“Keep it neutral, no distractions. Like wearing all black, you want the buyers to focus on the bones, not the window dressing,” agent Julianne Bond said.