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4 Smart Ways to Use Color in Your Home Office

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Your home office should be a place of focus. It is the place where ideas are formed and put into action. Your décor, then, among your equipment and utensils, should push concentration and productivity. Color plays a large — and often unnoticed and underappreciated — part in how well one works in the office.

The psychology of color shows people are directly impacted by the colors surrounding them. Take, for example, the fast food industry. Why is it so many large chains use the color red in their logo and advertisements? It’s not because the head of the marketing department has a personal affinity for red. It’s because the crimson color has been proven to excite, stimulate impulse purchases and increase appetite.

What can be learned from studies of the effects of color? How can color help rev up your productivity in your home office?

Color and Its Effects

Colors are known to invoke certain emotions, though the degree to which this happens definitely depends on the individual, as well as the circumstance, according to a study done by Andrew Elliot of the University of Rochester and Markus Maier of the University of Munich.

The study concluded that the effect a chosen color has — they used green in one example — can be culture-specific but also situationally controlled. Green, they said, could signify wealth and money in a place like the United States. A blue-green used near food, however, could create a concern for mold and outdated products.

Color and Your Workspace

So how does this affect your workspace? It all depends on how each color affects you, personally, but here are some of the common ways color impacts people:

  • Red — a color known to inspire impulsive decisions, increase heart rate and spark passion.
  • Blue — a color that commonly is associated with security and a sense of calm.
  • Yellow — a happy, warm yellow can energize, but it can also strain the eyes if used in large spaces.
  • Green — this color has been known to increase productivity and reduce stomachaches, according to this Psychology of Color infographic.
  • Orange — a color that energizes and promotes friendliness.

The emotions these colors invoke show perhaps for a workspace it’s better to use greens and blues to help calm and promote productive efforts. However, by pulling in pieces of some of the other colors, it may be possible to experience what each color can do for you.

Here are 4 smart ways to use color in your home office:

  1. Start with a neutral background. Unless you are willing to go all blue or all green, painting a room a neutral, like a gray or beige, can act as a background to accent pieces featuring the colors and emotions you’d like to play up. For help selecting a color and getting the walls painted, seek out a professional paint company.
  2. Paint for your desired temperature. When choosing a neutral, think of how warm or hot you usually are. If, for example, you are always feeling cold, choose a more yellowed hue to give a sense of warmth. Conversely, for those who are always hot, a cool-toned grey can be beneficial.
  3. Use colorful accent pieces. Don’t shy away from color; just use it smartly. Keep away from overly concentrated colors or use them sparingly. Instead, opt for colors that are soft in hue to keep you calm and focused.
  4. Create “task” areas. Depending on what mood a color inspires for you personally, you may want to consider making task areas. Each task area can be a different color to help you focus. An orange, red or yellow area can be used to energize you for a task, whereas a blue or green area can help you focus on one that will take some time to complete.

For more help on choosing color for your office, check out this great article written by psychotherapist Amy Morin at Forbes. Morin delves farther into the study discussed above.

There’s no doubt color can affect moods and behaviors. Utilize this knowledge to bring color into your office that will inspire you to create and work effectively.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, where she shares advice about finding happiness and success in your career. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her blog newsletter for more great tips.