Colors influence how you feel – energized, calm, cheery, relaxed, intense, even depressed

Not just hue, but saturation, tint, and brightness. Hue – pure color, tint is original color + white (lighter than original color), shade is original color + black (darker than original color), saturation defines a range from pure color to gray

Just as no two people are alike, different people will perceive the same color differently. It can be related to memories or specific feelings associated with a certain color.

White – total reflection, refreshing, clean, hygienic and sterile (medicinal) and contemporary. Makes a small space look larger. Nice backdrop for colors/accents, gives your eye a place to rest. White projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Best-selling color of classic American t-shirt. Scientists originally wore beige coats, in the late 19th Century, changed to white to promote the idea of hope and healing.

Gray – subtle elegance, conservative, nice neutral background. Works with virtually every color, except perhaps brown. It can quiet a bright hue but can be suppressive, even depressing if used too heavily. Gray is associated with intellect and brain (gray matter.)

Black – total absorption, associated with authoritative, formal, death, mourning, serious. Graphic, a great backdrop for white, neutrals, colors. Communicates sophistication, weight, and seriousness. Black implies weight. The color associated with the judge’s robes, priests, tuxedos and limos for power and sophistication.

Yellow – bright, optimistic, happy, playful, youthful. The strongest and happiest color psychologically. During the tenth century in France, the doors of traitors and criminals were painted yellow. Yellow houses are thought to sell fastest.

Red – power, stimulating, energetic, can increase heart rate and blood pressure, passion, increases appetite used widely in kitchens for this reason. Not used in hospitals as it reminds people of blood. Color of the highest arc in the rainbow, longest wavelength of light. Red flowers are usually pollinated by birds and butterflies, but not bees as they cannot see the color red. Why are barns painted red? A recipe consisting of skimmed milk, line and red iron oxide created this color, cheaply, easy to make and lasted for years.

Pink – feminine, soothing, sweet, nurturing and physically soothing. Associated with romance. Too much pink can be physically draining/emasculating -- Baker miller pink (P-618) reduces hostile, violent or aggressive behavior in prisons/juvenile correctional facilities by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Sports teams sometimes paint locker rooms of opposite teams pink as a tranquilizing effect.

Brown – warmer and softer than black, elemental, natural earth color. Most people find it supportive and prefer it to black. Use of too many neutrals, not enough contrast.

Orange – stimulating color, food, warmth, fun, sensuality. Like red, it increases appetites and stimulates activity; used in many kitchens/restaurants.

Blue – intellectual, soothing, serene and mentally calming. Evokes restfulness. Least gender-specific color. It can be perceived as cold and unfriendly. Blue is the world’s favorite color. Most attractive color to mosquitos.

Green – balance, harmony, refreshing. Tints of green can be considered a “neutral” working well with many other colors. References nature and environmental awareness. Second only to blue as the favorite color. It occupies more space in the visible spectrum, most pervasive color in nature. Used for night-vision goggles as the color human eye is most sensitive to and able to discern. Pale green tint used in older hospitals because it was the complement of blood, more restful to the eyes when doctors looked away from their patients during surgery – visual relief from after images from looking at blood.

Violet – spiritual, luxury and royalty. Highly introvertive encourages deep contemplation (zen), Associated with royalty, fine quality, however, used too liberally communicates cheap, poor quality. Color often well-liked by very creative or eccentric people (Prince?)


As we age yellowing of the lens reduces its transparency, causing it to become more opaque reducing the ability to discriminate certain hues.

Result blue and green more difficult to tell apart than red, yellow and orange. Use rich, saturated colors whenever possible.