Color Psychology: Blue


Photo: crabchick

As we discovered when looking at color psychology of red, a color can create multiple emotional, and even physical effects in those who inhabit a space.

So, what of the color blue? Well, to start with, it’s known as something of a masculine color. It’s the color blanket they wrap you in if you’re born a boy, right? But, what else?

It can be known as something of a melancholy color as well, when you’re feeling blue, or if you’ve got the blues. But, that doesn’t mean that blue should be avoided. Just as we learned to embrace red for it’s boldness, it’s possible to embrace blue for its nobility (“blue blood” isn’t an expression for nothing…), and the atmosphere of confidence and air of stability.

Moods and effects of blue

Where it’s true that blue is known as something of a psychologically moody and melancholy color, the flipside of that is that it’s also associated with tranquility and quiet.  As a sort of polar opposite to red on this front, blue slows the pulse rate. In a space where you’re looking to slow things down a bit and promote calming clarity, blue can be an easy way to attain that.

Also, blue communicates a certain level of professionalism and trustworthiness (think “blue ribbon” or “true blue”), making it something of a go-to color for offices, both residential and commercial. This may have an affect on how productivity tends to be higher in blue rooms. Of course, blue is also cool, in that Miles Davis sort of way, too.

Popular shades of blue

Blue is a popular ‘favorite’ color, and is central to a gray/green/indigo/violet spectrum. A great many of the psychological effects of blue has to do with the sumptuous depths of shade that blue can offer a space.  Here are some select shades of blue that have become popular for both dominant colors and accents in stylish modern spaces.

Blue in the living room

When you’re strategizing around design and decor, using the color wheel to help, matching mood and activity is a great place to start. For instance, a lot of people use their living room as a quiet space for reading, and conversation, leaving TVs and video games for recreation areas elsewhere.

Since blue is calming, contemplative, and in some ways conservative, if your  living room is a place where the sorts of activities that require these things are common, blue is a great choice. And even if you do keep your TV and other more extroverted activities in your living room, a blue corner of the room for being away from screens can help you to create a more introverted zone, even if there is no physical barrier between one area and another. That’s the power of color, and of blue.

Blue in the kitchen

Another documented psychological effect of blue is that blue suppresses the appetite.  With this in mind, it may be a great choice, or not so great, in an area where food is prepared. If you’re looking to eat less, then blue may provide a bit of subtle influence. If you’re looking to dive into a full bore enjoyment of cooking and eating, then maybe another strategy is required.

For instance, if blue is coupled with a brighter color spectrum, like yellow or shades of orange (all of which are understood to promote appetite), blue can provide an accent to help bring a balance.

Of course, if you’re looking to add a bit of cool to a hot room in the house like the kitchen, blue can help there, too. Blue is cool, even as the oven heats up the house.

Blue in the bathroom

One cultural association we have with blue is that of water. Because the bathroom is where we have most of our day-to-day contact with the stuff, blue is a great thematic choice.

And as mentioned above, blue is the coolest color there is (well, in terms of implied temperature, of course …). So, when you’re looking for comfort and relaxation – two big priorities in bathrooms – blue can be true.

Blue in the bedroom

Mixing colors in rooms like the bedroom can create a unique visual alchemy. And blue in the bedroom plays an important role in striking an important balance. Because blue is so calming, a blue bedroom is a popular chromatic choice for elements like curtains, bedding, blue artwork, and even blue accent walls.

That balance you decided to strike in the kitchen with blue can be struck here, too. After all, in the morning you’ve still got to wake up. So, why not use blue to hold down your needs for restfulness, and punctuate it with cheerier ‘morning’ colors, like yellows, and reds – a chair, throw cushions, an area rug, and other elements for when its time to get up and go.  Blue in tandem with other bright and warm colors can bring your room to life, like waking up in the morning rested, and ready for the day.

Blue flooring & furnishings options

Natural stone flooring like slate tile floors, and modern porcelain tile flooring are go-to surfaces for blue shades in a space. For accent pieces, blue glass tile is a popular choice. These surfaces are especially effective in warmer climates, when visual temperatures, and actual ones too, demand a design element to offset them.

Blue furnishings add a sense of peacefulness and welcome solitude, making it great for your favorite chair in your reading nook, study, or spare room. Blue chairs, desks, loveseats, and other elements are well placed  in household locations of quiet contemplation, or where clarity is vital. Blue vases, throw pillows, candles can add a dash of cool blue to neutral colored furnishings as well to gain these same sorts of psychological effects.

Why decorate with blue?

To add a calming influence in any area of your home, even in places in your home with the most activity, the presence of blue is at its most effective. Balanced against white, blue is conservative, and productive. It communicates trustworthiness, which is why shades of blue is used so often in company logos. Against yellows and orange spectrums, it keeps things fun, yet with a hint of efficiency too.

Blue is like the strong, silent type. It’s cool, it’s collected, it commands respect. After a day of activity at a frenetic pace, blue is the color of sanctuary, which is a big part of what a home should be for you.

Stay tune for next week’s installment in our color psychology series: yellow


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