When it comes to setting up a new office space, or just refurbishing the old one, I wonder how many people put as much thought into the color on the walls as they do into the computers on the desks or even the coffee in the cappuccino machine? But getting the right color when you’re planning a new office design is important. It can have a direct effect on the happiness and the temperament of the entire staff. Everyone knows that a happy group of workers is an efficient group of workers. Get the color scheme wrong, however, and you could be creating a whole host of problems for you and your team.


Color Theory

So, here’s a little something about color theory to help you think about what might be the right shade of tangerine or turquoise to go with your dream office fitout. Psychologists have known for a long time that colors can influence mood and emotion. It’s no coincidence that when we think of certain colors we tend to associate them with certain images and even certain states of mind.

Think red and your mind will probably leap straight to images of fire, passion, or anger. Think blue and it’s more likely you’ll be contemplating something cool, calming and peaceful. Neither of these color choices is necessarily right or wrong, of course. But they may be useful for whatever mental state you want to encourage in your workers.

If you have a breakout room where you want the discussion and the action to flow fast, then a bright fire engine red might be just the right thing to ignite the creative ideas you’re looking for. If you have a space where the team can go for some quiet, contemplative time away from the bustle of the office floor, to gather their thoughts and take a moment to themselves, then a serene shade of baby blue might be more appropriate.

The Psychology of Color

Where do these ideas come from, you ask? Psychologist Alexander Schauss carried out research in the US back in the 1970’s. In that study, the team painted a Naval detention cell in Seattle in a color shade known as Baker-Miller pink. Researchers wanted to see the effect it would have on the often very rowdy prisoners locked up there. They found that the shade of light pink they were using had an almost miraculous effect on the prisoners who calmed down within just a few minutes of being in those cells. This was far quicker than when they had been in cells with plain white walls. Why this response was so dramatic isn’t entirely clear, but researchers think that we make associations with certain colors deep in our subconscious minds. In other words, we relate colors to certain evolutionary adaptive behaviors.

At the other end of the scale, some colors can have a negative impact. Certain colors have been associated with Sick Building Syndrome, for example. This syndrome has been blamed for making workers feel physically and mentally unwell because of their surroundings at work. It isn’t only the color that can contribute to this condition of course. Keeping the place clean and tidy and the air-conditioning at a comfortable temperature all helps. However, there’s some evidence that the color green may not be the best choice for your everyday work space.

It’s All So Personal Though

You’re probably never going to make everyone happy, as we do all have different responses to different colors. Some people may see purple as a color to inspire magic and creativity. However, for others it could just remind them of their grandma’s old sofa! All in all, think about what kind of mood you want in the different spaces in your office. Try to gauge what the people who’ll have to put up with those walls day after day think about the color scheme before you buy the paint.