When choosing interior paint colors for a house, most people go to their local home improvement store and raid the color sample aisle for inspiration. Some people pay an interior decorator to do the mix-n-match work for them.

Consulting a “color therapist” for help with interior paint colors, on the other hand? That is … very new. Most people do not know what color therapy (a.k.a. “chromotherapy”) is, because it is not mainstream in Western medicine and psychology. (If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed and finding it hard to function, consult a trusted provider immediately about treatment options.)

However experimental they may be, these theories around color and its mood-boosting effects stem from at least one proven, research-backed truth: colors can affect people’s moods. In other words, if you are someone who lives with a mental health disorder, the psychology of color may be worth at least considering in the process of choosing interior paint colors for a home.

What Is Color Therapy

First, what is color therapy? Color therapists believe that color and light, such as sun-filled rooms with glass windows, can positively impact mental and physical health. The premise of color therapy is that each color has a unique wavelength and frequency, and that a color’s wavelength and frequency enter the body through the eyes and skin, affecting individuals differently.

Mood-Boosting Paint Colors, According to Color Therapists

While color therapists believe that two people can respond to the same color differently, what follow are some general insights about colors hues to consider for their positive effects on mood and emotions:

  • Green can create subliminal associations with nature, which many people find peaceful, grounding, and restorative. Research has reportedly found that looking at pictures of green scenery reduced stress and that people often attach positive emotions to this color.

Green is also a “cool” color, based on its shorter wavelengths, according to color theorists. They believe that cool colors induce feelings of calm and relaxation.

  • Blue is also a “cool” color and therefore easier to tolerate than especially warm colors like red. (This may be one reason why so many people say it is their favorite color.)

Color therapists believe that blue can promote rest, calm, and better sleep. (Sleep is key to a positive mood and good mental health.) Better focus and imagination are also benefits of blue, these experts say.

  • Yellow often represents a sense of optimism and brightness. Color therapists believe it can relieve depressive feelings and even stimulate laughter. In a June 2017 CNN article, one researcher who for more than 30 years has been studying the effects of color on people through word association studies, said people often associate yellow with “sunshine,” “warmth,” “happiness,” and “playfulness.”
  • Orange, as a “warm,” longer wavelength color, can be energizing for one’s appetite and brain. Some people find they have more motivation to think and feel more alert when they see orange.

While green, blue, yellow, and orange may have mood-boosting effects, color therapists caution against going overboard with any of these colors. They claim that too much of each of these colors can have negative mental health effects (unique to the wavelength and frequency of that color).

Still, the next time the paint aisle beckons, consider trying the following experiment: Grab one sample each from the green, blue, yellow, and orange selections; take a long moment to look at each sample; then ask yourself how it makes you feel.