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Color In Design/ Intro to color Psychology. Color Preferences: Colors individuals gravitate towards. Based on personality, color bias, color associations, environment, culture, etc. Color Preference. Colors individuals tend to gravitate towards.

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color preferences colors individuals gravitate towards
Color Preferences: Colors individuals gravitate towards
  • Based on personality, color bias, color associations, environment, culture, etc.
color preference
Color Preference
  • Colors individuals tend to gravitate towards

Attempts have been made to explain how colors affect us psychologically.

  • Colors will affect specific individuals differently, so it is important not to over-generalize these findings
  • Additionally, the saturation and value of colors, as well as the situation the color is viewed in, will be as crucial to the effect colors have on us as the actual hue
  • A hue can seem stimulating or soothing depending on its context and saturation
warm colors
Warm Colors
  • Are colors associated with fire.
  • Hues in the ‘red’ section of the color-wheel are considered warm colors– orange, red-violet, yellow are all considered ‘warm’ colors
  • Warm colors TEND to be stimulating, especially red.
  • Higher heart rate, increased appetite and a stimulated ‘fight or flight’ reflex are observed reactions to warm colors.

Highly saturated warm colors( red, yellow, orange, etc) are more stimulating and often used in fast-food restaurants because they encourage customers, to get in, eat and leave quickly, allowing for more turn around.

cool colors
Cool Colors
  • Are blue-based colors—blue, green, blue-violet
  • These colors suggest water and trees
  • They tend to be soothing and relaxing.
  • Lower heart rates are recorded in test subjects situated in cool-colored rooms
  • A practice of using colors to heal. People are bathed in colored lights to stimulate different glands.
green heals colds and allergies
Green heals colds and allergies.
  • This is considered a practice of alternative medicine.
cultural color preferences
Cultural Color Preferences
  • People from warmer climates tend to prefer brighter, more saturated colors while individuals from colder, northern climates prefer cooler, less saturated colors
  • It is theorized that in brighter environments, people’s eyes adapt to protect them from the bright light, so there is a physiological bias towards brighter colors-they resemble the natural surroundings.
  • In Northern climates, people are used to less brightness, so bolder colors are more jarring, and de-saturated colors more appealing.
environmental color
Environmental Color
  • Color to reflect and enhance the function and mood of an interior place
        • This is the goal of using color for interior design
in interior design our color preferences are determined in part by the social function of the space
In interior design, our color preferences are determined in part by the social function of the space.

What colors would you paint a bedroom vs. a living room? A hospital vs. daycare?


Traditionally, design rules dictated that floors be dark and heavy, walls be mid tones, and ceilings light.

The darker floor is grounding, and lighter colors for a ceiling seem to rise, creating a sense of height, and thus, space.


The more ‘public’ a space is, the more people tend to prefer neutrals: think schools, offices, hospitals.

  • People tend to accept more vibrant colors better in private spaces

Earlier, we discussed how lighter, brighter, more saturated colors tend to push toward the viewer while darker, less saturated colors recede.

Based on this idea, would you paint a small room that you want to seem more spacious highly saturated YELLOWor a light BLUE?


Additionally, keeping the colors of a room uniform can also make the room appear larger.

Painting walls similar colors as the furniture will make the furniture seem to recede into the walls, making the room seem more spacious.

High contrast between walls and furniture will make the furniture seem to jut into the central space of the room, which could cause the room to feel smaller.


Neutrals are commonly selected as pleasing color choices. Warm-based neutrals tend to be more inviting than cool neutrals.

rule of 6 3 1
Rule of 6:3:1
  • A common design rule based on three colors:
    • A Dominant color (base hue) 60%
    • Secondary color 30%
    • Accent Colors (for visual ‘pop’ or interest) 10%

When dominant-secondary-accent becomes too monotonous, introducing tints and shades of those colors can provide more visual interest but keep the colors cohesive. A change in texture can also serve this purpose.

In the following three rooms, what are the dominant, secondary and accent colors?

What kind of space is the designer trying to create through the choice of color?


How do you respond to the color choices in this room? Can you identify dominant, secondary, and accent colors? What may have been the designer’s inspiration?