Color is something that we encounter daily. From décor, to picking out our clothing, to just driving past lush, green trees and blue skies, color is all around us.

Believe it or not, design of any kind requires research. A designer does not just throw color schemes together without considering the psychological effect that it will produce. Even the graphic designs of logos, magazines, food packages, and signs that you pass while driving require the knowledge of color theory to effectively produce the desired feeling/reaction that one is seeking. Anytime a space is designed, determining how the client wants to feel in that space is always a factor. Do they want a fun and active space? A quiet, relaxing space? Something professional or spontaneous? Of course other factors are necessary to shape the feel of a space but color will definitely be on the top of the list.

Did you know there is a science to color? To get the desired look that you are going for, it is crucial to remember that lighting, where you place certain colors, the tint or shade of the color used, and even the effect the color may have when combined with additional colors will deeply affect the type of mood setting that you want to create.

Whether you are an artist, graphic designer, or interior designer, below are some of the basic characteristics associated with color that are helpful to keep in mind: 


Positive characteristics: powerful, rivets attention, exciting, romantic, sense of warmth and passion

Negative characteristics: can be seen as aggressive, angry, and create a feeling of danger or emergency and is often associated with irritability

Fun fact: different varieties of red were more common in dining rooms and kitchens as well as many food advertisements because the color red is said to stimulate the appetite.


Positive characteristics: gives the feeling of warmth, sensuality, fun and security

Negative characteristics: can come across as frustrating, or immature depending on its use

Fun fact: orange is a common color used for sports because it is also a color that evokes energy and motivation.


Positive characteristics: an inviting color associated with joy and happiness; can be used to highlight and make things stand out

Negative characteristics: this color can create a sense of caution; too much yellow can feel draining and cause nausea.

Fun fact: it has been advised to avoid yellow walls in a baby’s room because this color triggers the anxiety center of the brain.


Positive characteristics: associated with calmness, growth, life, nature, luck and relaxation

Negative characteristics: associated with envy and illness

Fun fact: research shows that patients heal faster in a hospital room with more green.


Positive characteristics: cool and clear; can give the feeling of life, tranquility, optimism, holiness, and freedom

Negative characteristics: often associated with sadness and too much blue can make a space seem cold or unemotional.

Fun fact: blue is the world’s most popular color choice.


Positive characteristics: encourages a sense of diversity, inclusiveness, transition, royalty, power, and contemplation

Negative characteristics: associated with expensiveness

Fun fact: purple is the hardest color for the eye to recognize.


Positive characteristics: viewed as innocent, pure, heavenly, peaceful, spacious, and quiet

Negative characteristics: too much white in a space can appear sterile, become tiring on the eye,  or seem empty/unfinished.

Fun fact: White is the reflection of all colors.


Positive characteristics: maturity, contrasts well, elegant and bold

Negative characteristics: black can create a feeling of sadness, suspicion and mystery and is associated with bad luck and mourning.

Fun fact: Black is not actually a color because, scientifically, it is the absence of color due to the absorption of light.

There are positive and negative associations with every color and many other aspects to consider in order to make any design effective. However, keeping these associations in mind and balancing it with creativity is the beginning of allowing color to play a part in expressing your design.

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