Maria Teresa De Donato, Ph.D., RND, CHom

The color we choose is not only a matter of personal and individual preferences. The relation between colors and psyche, that is between colors and our inner world where subjectivity and inscrutable elements cannot be examined according to objective criteria, can be summarized by Jung’s statement “Colors are our subconscious’ native language.”

Physics defines color a ‘physiological impression produced in our eye by the retina which, by means of a luminous sensation transmitted to the brain, appears as color.’ Colors originate through the decomposition of light: a sun ray, going through a drop of water, appears to our eyes as seven colors. This phenomenon can be easily seen after a thunderstorm when the rainbow appears. The latter, in fact, isn’t but the result of many drops, all hanging in the air while being crossed by sun rays.

Another good example is that of the light which is decomposed by a prism and, as a result, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, indigo, and violet appear. Hence, colors are not only chosen depending on the way each of us perceives them and on our personal tastes, but they also highly influence our psyche, mood and, consequently, our overall state of health.

Yellow, for instance, is the most cheerful color, dominant, and which more than any other promotes action and stimulates positive thinking. When used in living environments, especially inside ones, it brings them to life, makes them appear brighter, more welcoming, hospitable and cleaner.
The color tones running from light to dark blue include a great variety of shades whose effects and intensity highly differ from each other. Usually, these colors, especially blue, have a relaxing effect on nervous people, besides the ability to impact breathing and facilitate serenity and introspection. The closer the blue to black, the more it can lead to sadness; the lighter the blue and the closer to white it becomes, the more it encourages rest and meditation. Ideal environments in which blue should be used are a) the bedrooms due to its relaxing effects; and b) the bathrooms where the light blue well harmonizes with the water element. Its darker tones, to the contrary, are well suited to the dining-room and kitchen. In the latter case, blue can really excel when it is used in combination with white porcelain tiles.

Green, which is abundantly found in the landscapes, offers a sensation of balance and harmony. Green as well is present in a great variety of shades, each able to influence our psyche and mind at different levels. Different civilizations attribute this color different powers and effects and identify it, for instance, as a ‘sacred’ color (Islam) or as symbol of the vital cycle of life and death (Ancient Egyptians). Resulting from the combination of light blue and yellow, green allows for a balance between cold and warm colors. However, we need to pay attention that such an equilibrium does not end up giving the feeling of immobility, which, by not stimulating passion or joy, makes the environment sad and boring. To the contrary, the closer green gets to yellow, the more it revives the atmosphere; while the closer it gets to light blue, the more relaxing the environment becomes. All those who suffer from melancholy are encouraged to make a limited used of this color. Its use is also not recommended in the environment where meals are served due to the potential of this color to interfere with the digestion.
Red is the color of passion par excellence and symbol of good luck (China) and marriage (India). All over the world, therefore, red is associate with courage and passion or with danger and anger. Despite transmitting a sense of warmth and passion, however, red does not promote strength and vital energy to the extent yellow does, although, it is still considered a stimulant with the ability to impact our breathing by accelerating it. Very passionate, hot-tempered individuals, naturally inclined to experience strong emotions should use this color moderately, limiting it only to passageways and certainly avoiding it in their bedroom.

More relaxing colors, suited to almost any kind of environment and design due to their natural shades and tones are cream, brown, gray, biscuit, as well as all those linked to wood, stones, and earth. The tones from orange to terracotta, depending on their intensity, make the environment warmer, stimulate, encourage digestion and accelerate heart rate. Hence, they can promote either a sense of well-being or of irritability.
Violet, though being a color non commonly used, is well suited for both ultra modern and classical environments. Since it results from the combination of red and light blue, it can well counterbalance the effects of very bright colors by giving the environment a more relaxing appearance.
White, that is, the disappearance of all colors, includes, all of them and offers a great variety of possibilities making the living spaces appear fresh and relaxing. Its use requires special attention, however, due to the fact that it can make the environments look either very elegant or, on the contrary, extremely trivial. When correctly used, it is the color that can harmonize with all others and with any kind of interior and exterior decorating style.
Black must be used carefully and preferably in small amount since, though it is elegant, it is also a sad color. However, it is extremely useful to create contrasts.

Gray, at last, is half way between white and black and is a color with no vitality, completely immobile, although, as black, it can be used as background for bright colors.

Disclaimer: The information above is for educational purpose only and is not intended as a medical advice.

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