The Psychology of Color and Interior Design: An Artful Relationship in St. Louis


psychology of color interior design st louisColor is an exciting and powerful design tool that can make your home feel more calm, cool, comfortable, or theatrical. Studies show that up to 90% of the snap judgments people make about products are based on color alone. That’s because certain colors trigger a subconscious emotional reaction based on personal experience.

Want to make a small room feel larger or a big room feel more intimate? Color can do that. You can make a space cozy and inviting by using warm colors or brighten a room by painting walls a color that beautifully reflects the light. The colors you choose for paint, furniture, and accessories all come together to create the mood that best reflects your personal style.

How the Psychology of Color Affects Your Interior Design Choices

When you walk into a room that just “feels” right, that didn’t happen by chance. Designers know that color isn’t something randomly chosen that luckily works. If you’ve ever had to choose paint colors, then you know firsthand that it isn’t an easy task. Walk into any home improvement store and you’ll find thousands of paint chips to choose from.

With so many hues to choose from, most people find narrowing it down to several room colors overwhelming. But our designers, Megan and Brittany, have a secret to share: most of those colors (up to two-thirds) are never used. Need proof? Study your favorite rooms from sites like Houzz and Pinterest and you’ll probably see a running color theme, with most rooms using the same 10 colors over and again.

Popular Room Colors in the Greater St. Louis Area

It seems easy enough –  choose colors you love for your living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. In some cases, the results are quite good. But if you’re not knowledgeable about which colors and what combinations might look best in your home, the results may look and feel less satisfying than you imagined.

Here are the top trends and color choices our designers love and often recommend for our clients:


Long term, there’s nothing better than earth tones in the kitchen and bathrooms. A neutral palette makes it easier to coordinate cabinets, countertops, and floors and you can then add visual interest with accents like colorful backsplash tiles.

Going neutral doesn’t mean everything must be beige; include some variation to really bring a room to life. Countertops that have color or movement, for example, can be a great choice that can inform the rest of the room. When it comes to the psychology of color, the goal is to make sure that the color of the walls is not the first thing people see when they enter a room. Instead, the wall color should take a back seat to the rest of the design elements.

Kitchen Colors

Most clients we work with understand that bedrooms should be painted a restful color to enhance sleep. They’ve also heard that red is an “appetizing” color, so they think it would be a good choice when remodeling the kitchen. But do you really need a certain color to feel hungry at home? Many restaurants, especially fast food joints, use red because it makes people eat faster, which is good for turnover. But the psychology of the color red can actually make people feel more anxious.

Your kitchen is a place people like to linger and enjoy each other’s company. If red is one of your favorite colors, use accent pieces, small appliances, tile in the backsplash, or other accessories to get your fix.

psychology of color interior design st louis


Bathroom Colors

Most homeowners want calm, neutral colors for their bathrooms. One exception is powder rooms, a place where you can let loose and have a lot of fun with color. Their small size lets you take bigger risks and people tend to worry less about color clashing. Jewel tones are popular, as are interesting wallpapers. In full-size and master baths, use a brilliant accent tile to make a neutral room pop.




How to Bring Color into Your Living Spaces

A neutral palette actually lets you bring color into your rooms in some interesting ways. For example, displaying color-rich artwork is easier when walls are neutral. Or try an accent wall for a dramatic effect. One of our clients loved an eggplant color, but knew an entire room painted such a bold color would be overdoing it. One wall was all it took to satisfy her desire.

The Rule of Contrast

In the Greater St. Louis area, homeowners have traditionally gone for a tan and/or beige color palette. Today, more people are embracing grey, greige (a grey/beige mix), and “coastal” colors often seen in shabby chic decors. One popular trend that perfectly illuminates the relationship between the psychology of color and interior design is beautiful grey cabinets and white walls.

In the kitchen, a good rule of thumb is that things that are touching each other should contrast. Like dark floors? Choose light cabinets. Likewise, dark cabinets look great against light floors. It doesn’t matter what combination you choose, if they contrast it will work. We recommend that clients purposely contrast kitchen elements. In other words, if you have wood trim and flooring and would also like wood cabinets, pick a cabinet that pulls the dark grain out of the floor.

psychology of color interior design st louis

psychology of color interior design st louis

psychology of color interior design st louis

Learn More

At J.T. McDermott, we love helping our clients choose the colors that bring their home to life in a way that perfectly reflects their personality and style. To learn more about the psychology of color and interior design, and how it applies to your next remodeling project, schedule a conversation with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!

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