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Psychology of Color in Interior Design

Color is one of the essential elements in design. Color theory explains how different colors relate to each other. A branch of color theory is color psychology, which explores the connection between colors and emotions. Knowledge of color is crucial for anyone dealing with it, whether you run a small business and are creating brochures, are a graphic designer, architect, or interior designer.

In interior design, besides serving as aesthetics, color can create an impression and atmosphere in a space. Color also significantly influences the image of a business or company. Often, a corporate office is designed to match its corporate colors. In this post, I will discuss the colors and the impressions they evoke when applied to the interior of homes, offices, or your business space.

Color Wheel

The Color Wheel is a chart that maps all existing colors. In the color wheel, the harmonious sequence of related colors can be observed. The color wheel consists of primary colors (Red, Blue, and Yellow), secondary colors, and tertiary colors. For a clearer understanding, refer to the image below.

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Color Wheel. Image by Adityuwana

In brief, primary colors consist of three colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow. Secondary colors result from mixing two primary colors; for example, Red mixed with Yellow produces Orange, Blue mixed with Yellow produces Green, and Red mixed with Blue produces Purple. Tertiary colors are a mix of primary and secondary colors. For instance, Red (primary) mixed with Purple (secondary) results in Red Violet (not Violet Red; the primary color is mentioned first).

The twelve primary, secondary, and tertiary colors are collectively called Hues. Additionally, we are familiar with Black, White, and Gray. Gray is a mixture of black and white. These three colors are considered neutral. When mixed with one of the Hues mentioned above, they can produce various shades. Mixing Hues with white is called Tints, with black is called Shades, and with gray is called Tones. Here is an example of mixing the red Hue with black, white, and gray.

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Meaning of Colors and Their Effects on Space

Color psychology focuses on the meaning of a color and how its effects can influence human emotions. The principles of color psychology are applied in interior design to help create the atmosphere of a room. Each color has a strong influence on the mood and specific emotional responses of space users. What are the effects? In a business, for example, these colors can influence consumer purchasing decisions and ultimately boost sales.

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Warm and Cool Colors

Red, Orange, and Yellow (including their tertiary colors) fall into the warm color category. These colors tend to evoke thoughts of fire, sunlight, and warmth. Warm colors have the ability to make a large room feel cozier. On the other hand, Blue, Green, and Purple (including their tertiary colors) are considered cool or cold colors. These colors tend to evoke thoughts of water, sky, snow, forests, and other cool environments. Cool colors have the ability to make a small room feel more spacious.


Red is a powerful and dynamic color that reflects the physical need to express passion and love. Red also symbolizes courage, strength, and energy. However, this color also conveys terror, fear, or something dangerous.

Overall, if you want to grab someone's attention quickly, red is the choice. Red is often applied in the interior of a restaurant business. The most straightforward example is a fast-food restaurant. Red is highly effective in attracting customers and stimulating appetite.

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Photo by Anggun Tan on Unsplash


Orange is associated with joy, excitement, warmth, and friendliness. This color makes you think of sunsets, autumn tones, and tropical vibes. Orange can capture attention without the intimidation or fear associated with red.

Like red, orange can stimulate appetite. This color is suitable for application in dining areas, kitchens, restaurants, or coffee shops. Applying this color doesn't necessarily mean using it on the walls; orange or warm-white lighting, the use of wooden furniture and materials can also add warmth to a room.

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Photo by Homestratosphere


Yellow is the color of joy, happiness, intelligence, and energy. Yellow can provide a cheerful and optimistic feeling. This color has a significant impact on humans, both mentally and emotionally.

However, you should be a bit cautious when applying it indoors. People tend to lose patience in an all-yellow interior. Make sure the chosen yellow is not too bright or too dull. Combine it with white or gray to neutralize the room. Yellow is best chosen as an accent color in small amounts that do not dominate the space.

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Photo by home-designing


Green is the color of nature and is considered the most soothing color for the eyes. Green can alleviate tension when used in interior design. This color symbolizes harmony, freshness, and fertility, generally evoking a sense of emotional security.

Green is well-suited for any room in the house and can have a calming effect when used as the primary color for decoration. However, like yellow, green should not be used excessively. My suggestion is to try applying olive green to the walls of the room. This color not only provides a calming effect but also gives a soft and subtle impression.

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Photo by Mathias Adam on Unsplash


Blue is associated with the sky and the sea. This color is linked to trust, loyalty, knowledge, and wisdom. Like green, blue has a calming effect, making it beneficial for the mind and body when applied in the home or office. Use this color to create a work and meditation atmosphere.

You can create a cool and clear look with the color blue. Blue has been proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate. If your room receives a lot of direct sunlight and heat, the color blue can give a cooling impression. However, it is advisable not to use this color for the kitchen, dining room, tableware, and restaurants. Blue cannot be found naturally in food, so its use can lead to a loss of appetite and a decrease in food cravings.

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Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash


Purple is a color that reflects luxury, spirituality, drama, and expense. Purple is a mysterious, creative, and imaginative color.

Neutral shades of purple symbolize harmony, while excessively dark shades are associated with a sense of sadness and gloom. One commonly used shade of purple in interiors is lavender. You can apply purple to furniture, combining it with other colors on the walls, such as white or gray, to achieve a bright neutral impression. Alternatively, combine it with blue for a softer and more natural look.

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Photo by Goodfon


White creates a fresh and clean appearance. White generally represents purity, peace, emptiness, and innocence.

White is used to create a spacious, calm, and pure look. When applied to walls, floors, and ceilings, a room will feel larger and higher than it actually is. It is suitable for small rooms. You can also use white combined with almost any other color. The drawback is that all-white rooms may feel empty and tend to be boring. The solution is to use contrasting-colored furniture. Consider a white room as a blank canvas with colorful furniture as its oil paint.

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Photo by Jorge De Jorge on Unsplash


Black symbolizes something negative, mourning, death, mystery, deep feelings, and sadness. Nothing good, right? Hehe... But for interiors, black brings a luxurious, bold, and elegant impression. Black is also associated with something serious and formal.

Black is ideal for highlighting specific elements in a room. Placed against a bright or neutral background, everything black will stand out. If using black, pairing it with gold will create an elegant and luxurious combination. Avoid being too dominant with black, especially on walls and ceilings. Use it only to highlight specific elements like small tables, doors, photo frames, etc. Dominant black can evoke fear and a sense of insecurity.

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Photo by Deezen

By understanding the psychological effects of color, we can choose the right colors to apply to interiors or business premises to create a mood with the hope of influencing consumer decisions to make a purchase.


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