Posted on October 12 2017
What color means for your interior space
Whether you want an interior space to be bright and welcoming, or dark and cozy, wallpaper color is a key factor in the emotional qualities of a room. By choosing a specific wallpaper pattern and color, the character and mood of an interior space can change dramatically. In this article, we’re going to give you a quick rundown on how color affects our perception when we walk into a room.
First, the emotional quality of each color differs between cultures. Check out this interesting infographic that compares how different cultures around the world perceive each color:
Click to view a larger version (Source: Information Is Beautiful)
The color purple can mean wealth and luxury in Western cultures, but in Thailand, purple is associated with death and mourning. While culture differences make up a large part of how color is viewed, a color’s "mood" or emotional impact can also be symbolic of values or unspoken "rules" in our society. For example:
- A red stop sign or a red light that implies ‘stop’
- Green packaging or graphics on a product which emphasizes its natural ingredients
- Packaging on Apple product that is mostly white in color, emphasizing cleanliness and modernity
While this article looks at color moods from a Western perspective, there are many resources online that compare a color’s emotional quality from different cultures. Before you dive straight into your next interior design project, check out these articles to learn more:
Table of contents:
- Black wallpaper: mysterious, minimalist, elegant, refined
- Grey wallpaper: industrial, futuristic, sleek, sophisticated
- White wallpaper: minimalist, modern, pure, clean
- Brown and Beige wallpaper: classic, functional, timeless, cozy
- Red wallpaper: stimulating, passionate, intimate, energetic
- Pink wallpaper: playful, feminine, peaceful, fun
- Purple wallpaper: regal, luxurious, rich, calming
- Blue wallpaper: tranquil, soothing, inviting, graceful
- Green wallpaper: natural, organic, renewal, relaxation
- Yellow wallpaper: cheerful, happy, energetic, welcoming
- Orange wallpaper: energetic, creative, funky, trendy
Black wallpaper: mysterious, minimalist, elegant, refined
Black can often transform a room dramatically, making a space appear darker and more closed in. Depending on what you want to achieve with your interior design, this may or may not be the result you’re looking for. Still, if you want to create a mysterious and refined look, black wallpaper can often do the trick!
One way to incorporate black colors in a room design is by using it as a feature wall and pairing it with other black décor items, such as a large rug. This keeps the black color scheme present throughout the room without it being too overpowering.
Another way to use black wallpaper is to choose a pattern that mixes black with other lighter colors. Check out this geometric design, which uses black as accents overtop the lighter grey background. This helps keep the color palette from being too uniform, while also adding an interesting visual element.
Grey wallpaper: industrial, futuristic, sleek, sophisticated
Depending on the pattern, grey wallpaper can make a room feel sophisticated and high-end, or more rustic and industrial. Unlike regular paint where you are using a single color to change a room’s mood, wallpaper pattern is also important to keep in mind.
This luxurious Diamond Cushion is an example of grey wallpaper that is elegant and stylish. The stitched detailing of the geometric shapes combined with the different grey shades results in a high-end look.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, grey concrete murals such as the one above can make a room feel more industrial and rustic. It has a "cool" factor that is often associated with similar faux finish wallpaper murals.
White wallpaper: minimalist, modern, pure, clean
Like black, white colors in a room can make it feel minimalistic. While white can open up an environment and make it feel more spacious and clean, too much white can also make a room feel uninspired. Balancing the benefits and drawbacks of color usage can be tricky.
However, an off-white color can be used to achieve that balance, with a modern and clean look that adds a sense of style to a room. Wallpaper that has a light colored pattern, such as the damask in the image above, helps keep the room looking minimalist in design.
If you want to go with a more traditional white color, choose wallpaper that has other design elements going for it. For example, Ivory Scallop has an interesting geometric design but also a 3D effect that adds a lot of depth.
Brown and Beige wallpaper: classic, functional, timeless, cozy
Brown and beige colors are often seen as more traditional and reserved. While it’s often a "safe" choice for interior designers, this doesn’t mean it has to be a "boring" choice.
Hanging the same wallpaper pattern in different colors can create a lot of visual interest since it keeps the color palette more diverse and exciting. In the example above, the use of different brown and beige colors connects the large living room and dining space.
As a warm color, brown can help make a space feel cozy. One way to modernize brown wallpaper and keep it from looking too traditional is to choose a pattern with metallic accents.
Red wallpaper: stimulating, passionate, intimate, energetic
Red is a dramatic color that instantly changes the mood of a room. Because it is such a strong color, it adds a high level of energy to the space.
A brighter, cherry red adds a high level of energy to a room and stimulates the senses. Lighter red tints like the one above convey a more exciting mood that’s more playful and fun.
A darker red can take on a more mature, sophisticated look. Muted red shades have less energy, but have a more classic appeal.
Pink wallpaper: playful, feminine, peaceful, fun
In Western cultures, pink is often associated with femininity (much like how blue is associated with masculinity), but that doesn’t mean the color can only be used in a girl's bedroom!
Mixing pink and white can produce a mood that is calm and peaceful. Because of the lighter colors, this intricate damask design adds a touch of grace and stylishness to a room without being too dominant.
Like vibrant reds, hot pink colors such as the one above can go a long way in energizing a room. The deep pink also dramatizes a room much more than lighter shades, so a great way to use this color is in small doses, such as on a feature wall.
Purple wallpaper: regal, luxurious, rich, calming
Just as the previous categories pointed out, the difference between dark and light color shades for purple wallpaper can be quite impactful when considering a room’s mood.
Often associated with royalty and luxury, dark purples convey a sense of elegance, style, and richness beyond any other color. Mixing it with blue offers up a powerful color combination, providing a visual that is intriguing and sophisticated.
Lighter purple colors can be more calming than darker purples, which is perfect for bedroom wallpaper. Mixing and matching different color shades is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
Blue wallpaper: tranquil, soothing, inviting, graceful
Best suited to many different room types, blue wallpaper is extremely versatile!
Soft, pastel blue colors make a room appear calmer. This makes it a perfect choice for areas such as bedrooms or offices. A powder blue like the one pictured above can also make a room feel more traditional and classic.
For a more modern feel, take a look at the abstract wallpaper above. Similar to many of the dark colors discussed already, the intense dark blues offer up a sense of sophistication and mysteriousness.
Green wallpaper: natural, organic, renewal, relaxation
Like blue, green colors work to create a more calming, relaxed atmosphere. The color is also associated with nature, so green wallpaper is a good choice for those who want their space to look and feel fresh.
A lighter, more vibrant shade of green makes a room feel more clean and fresh. Perfect for areas such as a kitchen or living room, bright green colors invite people in.
Darker green shades have a more mature presence that emphasizes a refined taste. While not as energetic as lighter green colors, darker green colors like in the image above are more suited for bedrooms.
Yellow wallpaper: cheerful, happy, energetic, welcoming
As the most visible color, yellow is optimistic and energetic. Hanging yellow wallpaper in a room will instantly brighten the entire mood of a room.
Yellow is a dynamic color that catches your attention the moment you step into the room. Like red, it makes an immediate impact, but whereas red was more stimulating, yellow is more about instilling a cheerful attitude!
Since it can be quite a powerful color, designers may want choose wallpaper that incorporates other colors into the mix. For example, take a look at the image above, which uses soft pastel colors like green and pink.
Orange wallpaper: energetic, creative, funky, trendy
Orange colors are perfect if your goal is to create a vibrant atmosphere with a color that is not often used. It’s a good balance between energetic red colors and cheerful yellow colors.
Lighter orange colors are less about energizing a space, and more about setting a welcoming mood for the room. Mixing the cheerfulness of yellow and the freshness of green, light orange wallpaper such as the one above is a great choice for dining rooms and kitchens.
Darker orange shades create a more spirited environment, working in a similar way that red colors would. Because of how bold it is, consider using it as a feature wall.
Whether you want to create a calming atmosphere for the bedroom, a bold and energetic mood for your living room, or a welcoming setting for your dining room, paying close attention to color usage is important.
For even more design tips and inspiration, check out these previous articles:
- Purple Damask Wallpapers For Creating A Bold Statement
- Wallpaper Styles That Add Character To Your Home
- 7 Calming Wallpapers In Pantone's Rose Quartz and Serenity
- 5 Striking Contemporary Wallpapers In Pantone's Radiant Orchid
- A 2016 Swatch Guide To Contemporary Wallpaper Colors