A well-crafted color palette can do wonders for a room. The use of color and graphic images can elicit emotions and unique perceptions of space. It has an ability to calm or excite, can make a room appear smaller or more grandiose, or even trigger subconscious reactions. Color is the most vital, impactful and expressive design element in a designer’s toolbox.


How colors affect people

Color provokes psychological sensations in the mind and physiological effects which cause changes in the body. Color affects a person’s feelings about space – where light and cool colors seem to expand a space, dark, warm colors tend to enclose space making it feel smaller.


Do colors change perceptions of weight and size?

The perception of weight and size are felt similarly – where light, cool colors seem to feel less heavy than dark, bright colors. Colors have a proven effect on body temperature – warm tones (red, orange, yellows) can raise one’s temperature whilst cool colors have an opposite effect.


Time change through colors?

Color can affect a person’s perception of time - warm-colored spaces tend to make one feel as though they have been there longer than they have and time seems to pass more slowly. Colors can stimulate or excite, induce boredom or calmness, and even improve the rate of recovery of sick patients.

Overview about often used colors:



With the most power and energy of all colors, red advances in a space. In interiors, it can be used as an accent color, but may be too strong when used as the dominant color in a room. It is suggested that looking at the color red can increase pulse, heart rate and blood pressure, which may not make it a suitable color for a healthcare facility where opposite sensations are the goal of a space.



When lightened and muted, orange can have a cool, refreshing effect. Bright hues should be considered carefully as they have such stimulating properties.



Yellow is reflective and adds flattering highlights. It is ideal in an entrance hall or room with little natural light, since it gives an illusion of direct sunlight. When grayed or muted, yellow has a refreshing effect, although bright high-value shades are the most impactful and should be considered carefully.



When grayed, warmed or cooled, green makes a good background. When lightened, green feels restful, and when brightened, it can feel energizing and invigorating. The colors of nature, leaves and trees can be wonderful hues to use in facilities, where views outside to nature may not always be accessible.



As a key interior decorating color, all tints of blue can be used with success in a space, especially to create a soothing atmosphere ideal in healing, relaxing spaces. It is suggested that looking at blue can aid in sleep and provide calmness.



Often used as small accents, violet or purple can be very dramatic. On large surfaces it can be disturbing. The color tends to stimulate the creative part of the brain, and therefore would not be well-suited for areas of healthcare facilities where patients need to rest their mind.



White may give the appearance of more space in a room, which is useful for small spaces which a designer would like to open up. In patient corridors however, the absence of color (all white environment) can actually create a visual hazard for people with reduced visual acuity; colors can give visual cues of spatial references in order to prevent falls.


Though still a lot of scientific research is artists, interior designers and architects have long understood how color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions.