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Office Color Schemes

Isn’t it ironic how little time we spend decorating our most frequently used spaces?  You know what I mean.  You spent months selecting a rug for the formal living room, and there it sits with vacuum marks from two years ago. Meanwhile, you spend your days in an office that doubles as a storage area, while sitting at a desk your parents purchased for you in high school.  A lovely office may not impress the neighbors, but it can change your life.

A functional workspace or office reduces fatigue and anxiety, while increasing productivity. The wrong office decor will not only affect your mood, but can also hold you back from making a good impression.  It’s not just the furniture, it’s also the colors you select for your workspace.  Studies have proven that the colors in your office will impact your work and influence visitors, namely clients, coworkers and colleagues. (On a side note, I’ve been saying this for years, but recently scientists collected data that actually supports my claims. I have teenagers that like to tell me I’m wrong, so when science proves me right I get giddy!)

So where do you start? Consider your objectives for the space and the effect a particular color will have on coworkers and clients. For example, red can cause people to work faster, but it also causes a higher error rate. So, what may be a good fit for a call center, is not the best choice for an accounting firm.

Here are some guidelines and detail by color: 


Pink has a relaxing effect and can help with anxiety or aggressive behavior.  It also looks great with green, so if you’re feeling a little uptight, a green and pink color scheme could help.


Green is soothing and relaxing, so if you’re prone to anxiety at work, a predominately green office could be helpful. It also curbs your appetite, so if your office is a restaurant, don’t choose green.


Yellow is considered a memorable color. Is this why basic sticky notes come in yellow? It’s also a good color for concentration and self-esteem, perfect for a study area.  For walls or large accents, choose muted shades, not school-bus yellow. Balances well with gray.


Blue has a calming effect.  It can lower blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. For balance and style, combine blue with orange.  Some shades of blue, like turquoise, promote communication.


Orange is stimulating and can reduce fatigue.  It has a warming effect and can work wonders on that room that is perpetually cold. It can also stimulate the appetite, so I’ll be avoiding orange in my office.


Purple (or Violet) is considered to be the most versatile color.  It promotes peace, wisdom, intuition and artistry. (I hope they have plans to paint all the walls in Washington D.C. violet.) Some say it can even help with headaches.  No scientific tests have confirmed this, but it’s worth a try.


Red, like orange and yellow, has a stimulating effect.  Studies have proven that red rooms increase heart rate and blood pressure. It is also associated with vitality, energy and ambition.  Go get ’em!


Black is associated with strength and confidence.  That is why your black suit makes you feel so powerful.  Use black and silver for a glamorous office look.

White is a combination of all colors.  A white room can soften and illuminate other colors in the spectrum.  If you have floor to ceiling windows (I’m jealous) white walls provide balance.

Please understand that while there is some predictability in response to color, human beings are complex, so proceed with caution.  Life experiences, basic personality traits and even cultural differences can alter a person’s response.