Use color in your home to change your mood

Instead of ignoring color, embrace it wholeheartedly.
Interior designer Jenna Gross uses lots of punchy colors in her interior design.
(Courtesy of Colordrunk Designs)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Interior designer Jenna Gross uses lots of punchy colors in her interior design. (Courtesy of Colordrunk Designs)

We love color on our plates and in our wardrobes for the way it energizes and excites us. Many of us want to have colorful lives and travel to colorful places.

Then why is it that so many of us are afraid of color when it comes to our homes? Is it a fear of nonconformity and being that most despised of people — the homeowner who goes off script and paints their home a hue outside the neighborhood playbook? Or perhaps we think choosing neutral design will guarantee style longevity and fear that a bold red or purple wall will wear out its welcome.

A 2023 article in Psychology Today describes the emotional and psychological impact of color on our mood and temperament. Neuropsychologist Barbara Koltuska-Haskin wrote that the “color white commonly used in most public spaces and schools can increase stress and decrease concentration.” The color gray, she added, can actually be more depressing than black.

It would be hard not to have a good time in this colorful dining room from Colordrunk Designs.
(Courtesy of Colordrunk Designs)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

And yet gray and white are often the hues we swath our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms in.

That resistance to color in our homes might be shifting, according to Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing Sue Wadden.

“Historically I believe homeowners tend to be afraid of bold colors,” she said, “but we’ve seen this change over the years. We’re seeing an inclination to take risks and be creative with their homes, which I love to see.”

Every year Sherwin-Williams chooses a color of the year and its 2024 hue, while far from bright and bold, is a restful, peaceful blue called Upward. The choice of Upward makes sense in an interior design landscape where gentle, soothing hues drawn from nature like green and blue are trending.

Every year paint company Sherwin-Williams chooses a color of the year. Its 2024 color is Upward SW 6230, a shade of blue associated with peace and relaxation, according to the company. Photo: Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Psychologists and interior designers both know how color can influence how we feel, and Wadden is a firm believer in the power of color to change our mood.

“For example, yellows reflect light and they’re an excellent choice for foyers and dark hallways. Its cheery nature can create an uplifting mood in homes. Reds evoke feelings of passion, energy and intimacy, so it’s an excellent color for workout rooms and master bedrooms. Red also inspires the appetite, so is a logical choice for dining rooms or kitchens,” Wadden said.

“Blue is soothing and elicits feelings of relaxation, which is perfect for bedrooms and bathrooms. Green tones provide a feeling of familiarity because they are found throughout nature. Light greens are ideal for living rooms and offices. Dark greens are wonderfully rich as accent colors.”

Jenna Gross, founder and head designer of Decatur-based Colordrunk Designs, is a color savant whose own projects boast a rainbow spectrum of bold fuchsias, vibrant lime greens and geranium pinks. For a color enthusiast like Gross, color has many merits.

“Color is a great way to spark energy and create excitement. It is also a great way to show off your personality. The right use of a bold color can really make even the most mundane, contractor-grade space look custom and well designed,” said Gross.

Afraid to take the color leap? Gross said to start with baby steps, like using color in throw pillows, blankets and accessories.

“Art is a fantastic way to bring color to a space. Find an artist you respond to and let the art set the color scheme for the space. Add a little here and there and keep adding as you feel comfortable,” she said.

Dragon Fruit is a bold pink from Sherwin-Williams. Photo credit: Sherwin-Williams

Credit: Sherwin-Williams

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Credit: Sherwin-Williams

Here are tips for using more color in your home:

Add green and blue in your kitchen

Hues drawn from nature are popular cabinet colors right now. Try shades like Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke or Sherwin-Williams’ Upward to give your kitchen cabinets a refresh.

Address the floor

Adding color doesn’t always have to mean using paint. Yes, you can paint a floor in a assertive solid color or even create a tile effect with a stenciled paint pattern, but a large, vibrant rug is another way to add a splash of color. A hot pink or turquoise rug can be just the accent your palette of neutrals needs.

Accessorize with color

Bright vases in primary colors, a collection of candles in rainbow shades in white holders or book jackets in neon shades on a white bookshelf can add fun and wit.

Try a statement wall

Interior designers have preached the gospel of a wallpaper statement wall or a gallery wall with art and photographs, but why not choose a bright or bold hue and create a visual highlight in your living room or bedroom? If you consider the ceiling your fifth wall, a brilliant hue there can bring drama to a dining room or kitchen. Wadden loves Sherwin-Williams’ bold pink Dragon Fruit which makes for an impactful statement wall or ceiling and Gross is a fan of Farrow & Ball’s dusty pink Rangwali.

Lean into neon

Ready for an instantly hip look? Neon yellows, green and pinks are especially popular now. Embrace that trend by painting a sideboard or a bookcase in a neon shade.

Choose colorful bedding

One way to experiment with color without committing wholesale is to either add colorful pillow cases or a bright duvet cover or quilt against a backdrop of white bedding.

Tackle the trim

Gross has been using bold painted trim in her projects lately. Instead of the usual crisp white baseboards and door frames, create contrast with a saturated mustard or peacock blue. If you have a mantel, you can paint it a rich color.

Embrace colorful tile

More and more homeowners are using colorful tile as vibrant kitchen backsplashes and in powder rooms, mudrooms and entryways.

Felicia Feaster is a longtime lifestyle and design editor who spent 11 years covering gardening, interior design, trends and wellness for Felicia is a contributor to and has been interviewed as a design expert by The New York Times, Forbes and the Associated Press.