By David H. Wulff, AIA


Is it time to paint?  Before just going to the store and looking at paint samples, you might want to consider some things first. Did you know that color affects your performance, emotions and behavior?    In tests on students, they were found to perform five to ten percent better on standardized pattern recognition tests when they were administered in color rather black and white. The effect also boosted memory over time.  But the excessive use of color, motion, or pattern can create a stressful environment.

Ok, it would seem that too much color is not a good thing.  So, why not just paint everything white?  That might not be such a good idea either.  A West German study on white walls resulted in findings that termed this environment as being neutral, sterile, empty, and without vitality.  Psychologically, white has nothing to offer and is often viewed as the cause of eye strain and fatigue.

In general…

  • Red is interpreted as warm or hot; can generate feelings of energy, excitement or threat; appears to improve focus and performance.
  • Orange is interpreted as warm or hot; invites friendliness, stimulates critical thinking and memory.
  • Yellow is interpreted as warm or hot; can make us feel happy; inspires creativity.
  • Green is interpreted as cool or cold; appears to be relaxing but if overdone it can lead to feelings of stress.
  • Blue is interpreted as cool or cold; stimulates creativity and can product a state of calm, but in excess, it may encourage feelings of depression.

Also consider the lighting in the room:

  • Warm colors will cheer up rooms with northern light.
  • Cool colors mellow out rooms with strong southern light.
  • Bright colors appear more vivid in strong light.
  • Neutral colors work well in rooms with east and west light.

Remember, daylight changes at least four times a day, and the appearance of a paint color changes accordingly.

DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions. David H. Wulff, AIA, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 828-625-5537,