Haven’t they become a part of this world that we live in or maybe a colorful world is what our senses know? They’re everywhere. It’s almost as if it is impossible to imagine one monochromatic day in this world after having seen its colors. Waking up to the bright yellow sunlight, sleeping in the dark black sky, and being active during the mid-day. What if we couldn’t see colors? Would we be able to distinguish between the day, the night, and the mid-day, between places or between buildings? Every little part of this eerie imagination is scary. If the absence of colors scares us so much, then that means seeing colors every day makes us happy.

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet1
Colors of nature_©Farmersalmanac

Colors enhance our moods. Do we feel a difference in the mood on a bright sunny day, and a cloudy day? Do rainbows make us happy? Feeling happy, energetic, and motivated on sunny days, while feeling down, tired or relaxed on a gloomy day explains something. If the certain way we feel on each of these days is probably down to their colors, the perception of colors must influence human emotion and behavior. 


The first few colors that we, as infants could perceive were primary colors and as we grew our vision expanded to the other colors of the color wheel. Dipping brushes into the history of colors, reveals that the “First color wheel” came into existence in the 17th century when Sir Isaac Newton invented the science of colors during his prism experiment. This was followed by Wolfgang von Goethe’s publication, the groundbreaking “Theory of Colors” in 1810. This theory was the first to examine the psychological effects of colors and their impacts on human emotion.

If the little time that we spend outside seeing colors on sunny or gloomy days affects our day’s mood, then shouldn’t we think about the colors of the interior spaces where we spend most of our time?

Understanding colors

Colors can make or break the mood of a decorative scheme. A designer has to consider aspects such as space proportions, placements of interior elements, and material finishes before deciding on the colors. They’re designer tools to address visual concerns in interior environments. They can change the perspective of a room, be it by enlarging smaller spaces or compacting larger ones, lowering high ceiling heights or stretching low ceilings, narrowing or widening spaces, or even highlighting a space in particular. They can also create a visual flow through several spaces creating a relaxing vibe.

Understanding the importance of color theory in designing interiors is essential in deciding the ambiance and the mood of the space. Warm or chaotic! 

Color Theory

The Colour wheel is a designer’s play-safe secret coloring weapon in their vast hunting ground of hues. A classic color wheel is made up of 12 colors, six warm and six cool colors. The modern color wheel begins with a ring of primary colors, followed by secondary and tertiary colors. Color wheels help designers in creating appealing palettes by applying the underlying theory of colors to the way we perceive them.

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet2
Colour wheel_©Annie Smith

Before painting the walls of warmth or chaos, let’s brush up on our skills in choosing the right hues to evoke the desired emotion. 

Red: Power, action, and sensuality. The fiery, warm color brings about an adrenaline rush by raising energy levels. Red is a great option for high-energy and creative environments and is often used as an accent color.

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet3
Red Living room_©Donal Murphy

Yellow: Energy. A warm color that brings the sunlight of spring into space. Yellow is a great choice for kitchens and living rooms owing to the energy that it kicks into the space.

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet4
Yellow Living room_©Tobi Fairley

Orange: Relaxing. Another warm color that brings sunshine indoors is orange. All shades of orange have an optimistic effect on the human psyche. 

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet5
Orange Living room_©Inclined Studio photography

Blue: Intelligence, serenity, loyalty. Blue is one strong primary color that’s part of the cool family. A calming color that is a reminiscence of nature and has a healing effect on the human body. 

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet6
Blue corridors_©Tobi Fairley

Green: Growth, Freshness, Vitality, Rejuvenation. Another color that takes one back into nature and kindles the feeling of security. 

Green Courtyard_©Inclined Studio Photography

Purple: Charm, passion, luxury. Purple, and positivity! While darker shades of purple can add style to a space, lighter ones can leave us feeling calm and relaxed. 

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet8
Purple Store Interior_©Masquespacio

Neutrals: The neutral palette includes shades of black, white, gray, and brown. These colors play a role in adding a color punch to spaces or in neutralizing vibrant color themes just as their name implies. 

Colour Psychology in Designing interiors - Sheet9
Neutral Interior_©Tobi Fairley

The color theory does help designers to an extent, but not entirely. Here are some color attributes that a designer might need to know. 

Hue, an important characteristic of color, is a pure color without tint or shade that is depicted on the color wheel.

Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color, determined by the amount of black or white added to a color. White tops this spectrum with black at the lower end. The lighter value obtained by adding white to the normal value of a color is a tint and the darker value obtained by adding black to the normal value of a color is a shade. 

The Tone is attained when gray is added to a hue and is between shade and tint. 

Intensity, saturation, and Chroma refer to the purity, or richness of color as opposed to the dullness or grayness of the color. Colors with high saturation are rich and bold compared to colors with low saturation. The chroma level of a color is the level of the color in its most original state without tint or shade.

Now that we know about colors, the theory, and their attributes, it’s time to look into some color schemes that designers can adopt.

In Design 

How does the design process begin? With a study on the type of space, activities, people, personalities, and the kind of environment that they require. After ticking all the above boxes, designers could consider following some color schemes to start with their art.

60-30-10 color schemes are for designers who’d love a triad of colors in their space with one color that covers 60 % of the space (predominantly a neural shade), a second secondary color that covers 30%, and third accent color with the least coverage. 

Warm Vs cool, a scheme for the greedy, indeed. Who wouldn’t want to miss feeling the emotions that a combination of these two colors would evoke? Let’s say a red and a blue. There’d be everything there in that room – energy, action, intelligence, and serenity. What more would one need?

A complementary color Scheme is where the color wheel comes into the game. Two colors that are directly opposite to each other on the color wheel are partners of this scheme. 

Analogous color themes, without any doubt, are for color lovers. Any 3 or more colors that are positioned next to each other on the color wheel make the palette of this theme. 

After choosing the color, designers may have to focus on the areas to apply colors, which could be a wall, floor, laminate, or upholstery. Materials and their finishes also impact aesthetics. There may be several decisions that a designer might have to make all at once. Good Luck to them! 


Dodsworth, Simon.(2016). The Fundamentals of Interior Design, 2nd edition

Nielsen & Taylor.(1994). Interiors: an introduction, 2nd edition

Pile, John.(1997). Color in Interior Design

Stoneside.Interior Design: Understanding the psychology of colors in spaces.              Available at: interior-design-understanding-the-psychology-of-color-in-spaces

Albert Munsell, Munsell Color. Sir Isaac Newton’s Influence on the Color Wheel             Available at: sir-Isaac-newton-color-wheel


Annie Smith.Colour Wheel[Photograph]

Sara Cosgrove Studio.Ireland’s Home Interiors[Photograph](Ireland)Tobi Failrey.Promised landfarm[Photograph]

Inclined Studio.Show House[Photograph] (India)

Tobi Failrey.Riversidefarm Penthouse[Photograph]

Inclined Studio.The Boho Homes[Photograph] (India)

Masquespacio.Vento [Photograph] (Valencia, Spain)

Tobi Failrey.Shadowvalley [Photograph]


An architectural graduate with a vision to create artful and functional environments. She has a strong inclination towards exploring and interpreting the aesthetics of people, places, and buildings. With a writing niche, she believes in the power of words to emote.