Color In The Workspace

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions. – Pablo Picasso 

Everyone has a favorite color, or least favorite color, but what some people may not realize is the psychological effect that color can have on them. Warm colors, such as red, orange and yellow can provoke emotions of anger. Cool colors, like purple, blue and green can provoke a calming feeling but they could potentially provoke feelings of sadness or indifference. The color white has been used in many western countries to represent purity and innocence. It is important to keep the effects of color and psychology in mind when designing your workspace.  

Sometimes it’s not the color but the color intensity, if you are contemplating a certain color but you’re nervous about the potential psychological effects of your space, consider only doing an accent wall or toning down the colors intensity for a subtler approach. Researchers have long studied the effects of color and psychology, everyone responds differently to each area of the color wheel so we think it’s best to stay neutral on the walls and try and incorporate pops of color with décor and artwork.  

Many people feed off of their environment and if they find their environment distracting and dingy, they can directly affect their productivity and work outcome. While white or grey walls remind some people of a traditional, boring workspace, others thrive off the cleanliness and simplicity finding that it doesn’t distract their focus. Interior designers, architects and business experts have studied the positive effects on color and psychology in the workplace, I came across this article that broke down placement of positive color in the workspace from


1. Red, Orange
Sprinkling small amounts of reds and oranges in an office, such as painting an accent wall or purchasing brightly colored accessories, can create an energetic environment, says Elizabeth Brown, principal of EB Color Consulting in Seattle. “Red is supposed to raise your heart rate,” she says. But use it sparingly, Brown warns, as too much of such a fiery color can evoke aggression and stress. Consider a reddish palette in areas where employees spend only limited time — such as hallways, bathrooms, or even the kitchen — where employees are not working, adds Leslie Harrington, executive director at the Color Association, a color consulting firm in New York.

2. Yellow
Businesses using yellows and bright accents can create a sense of happiness for employees who may be bored or unhappy at the office. Psychologically, the color raises self-esteem because it’s often associated with cheerfulness. It’s best to use bright yellows sparingly such as on accent walls, décor or furniture. Too much of these hues – like painting an entire room in neon yellow — can be agitating, says Mark Woodman, president of the Color Marketing Group, a nonprofit association that forecasts color direction. An exception to the rule is if you’re using a bold color that is part of your logo and you want to increase the presence your brand has in your space. Make sure bold colors are offset by more muted shades. For example, Woodman suggests balancing an intense yellow with light blue or a vivid orange with taupe.

3. Blue, Green
Colors commonly found in nature, such as blues and greens, can have a calming effect on a stressful work environment, says Woodman. Since workers spend most of their days inside fluorescent-lit offices, “any relation to the outside world makes people feel better,” he says.

Looking for fresh ideas to grow your business? Consider greening your office with fresh plants or forest-like hues. Research published last year in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found a link between the color green and creativity. Among the study’s participants, those who saw a glimpse of green prior to a creative task showed performed better.

4. Pastels
If your office space has few windows or low ceilings, consider pastel colors like peach or lilac when you’re ready to paint the walls as a way of brightening the office, says Woodman. Like blues and greens, the softer hues can also be helpful in stressful office environments that require a calming atmosphere.





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Whatever color palette you choose, beware of creating too much contrast between the light walls and dark colors of the furniture or decor, says Brown. “Too much contrast creates eyestrain,” she says. For example, a black and lilac palette can be jarring and cause visual fatigue. Instead, pair lilac with beige or wood grain.


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