Despite what you’ve seen on TV, white isn’t your only choice for a home office color.
By Tammy Adamson-McMullen
We’ve all seen a lot of home offices lately, from those of TV anchors and late-night comics to friends and co-workers on Zoom, Skype and similar applications. You may have noticed that most of these home offices are pretty bland in color, with white the prevalent color, but yours doesn’t needed to be!
Of course, there’s nothing inherently “wrong” in an all-white office, but this color is by no means your only option. There are other home office colors worth considering to make your space feel more comfortable, more spacious, more energizing, and less stressful.
Like many workers, you’ve probably spent a lot of time in your home office these days, and you may be spending more in the future. So why not choose a color that makes you feel more comfortable? Maybe you have a favorite color that “speaks” to you; once you’ve identified it, run with it! Use the color on all of your office walls, or simply paint the color on the wall behind your desk and use neutrals or a coordinating color on the other three.
You can use the color in other ways, too, such as painting cabinetry or the inside of book shelving (which is very on-trend). In addition to paint, you might also add the color in your chair upholstery, in window treatments or in an area rug. By incorporating your favorite color in some way, you’ll better enjoy your home office and may find yourself more productive, too.
That being said, if your home office is small, you may want to steer away from colors that are too dark or garish as these can make your office appear smaller yet. Barely-there colors, pastels and lightly tinted neutrals do the opposite, by creating an illusion of space. And that illusion is greater when you choose a finish with some reflection, like a satin or pearl.
But what if your favorite color is a deep rose? Then simply choose a lighter hue in the same color family, like a soft, rosy pink. If you love dark purple, think about using a light lavender or periwinkle. And if chocolate brown is to your liking, consider a soft mocha or taupe. Lighter colors not only are enlarging but also non-competitive—meaning that they won’t contend with other colors in the rest of the room.
Larger home offices, meanwhile, can accommodate darker, vibrant and more dramatic color. Deeper colors add an air of sophistication to the space, especially when the colors are complex. Possibilities are deep and complex shades of blue (teal gray), green (dark olive), purple (raisin), orange (persimmon) and even red (sangria). Deep paint colors look especially stunning with lighter trim and juxtaposed against the natural woodwork of desks, cabinets and bookshelves.
When choosing a dark color for your home office, carefully consider the lighting in the space. Dark colors absorb light, so make sure you have enough ambient and artificial light to avoid eye fatigue as you work.
Whether a color energizes you or not has a lot to do with individual preferences and the individual way that colors effect you. For instance, some people might feel jazzed in a space painted in deep ochre; others will find it a restful color. It’s important to keep this in mind as you choose a color for your office—especially if you’re looking for a way to be more productive or to overcome afternoon slumps.
Generally, however, clear jewel tones like cobalt, amethyst and emerald are energizing colors. Red and yellow also are energizing, as are colors that have these two in their base. Prime examples are orange, violet, lime and lemon. Yellow-based colors are particularly good at striking the balance between too much and too little energy. Color psychologists note that yellow is also a happy color and one that promotes creativity. Whatever energizing color you select, it’s a good idea to proceed slowly with it. Try the color on one wall, for example, and then add it in stages to ensure its effect is truly energizing and not distracting.
Depending on your job, energizing colors may be the last thing you want in your home office. Maybe what you really need are colors that lower your stress and blood pressure. In that case, you might want to go with blue-based colors, like blue-sage and aquamarine, or soothing mid-tones that are neither too light nor too dark. Colors found in nature are especially good at relieving stress, such as woodsy greens, earthy browns, soft florals and stony grays. Tip: If your favorite color is a bright hue like orange or lemon, try adding some gray or brown to the color to make it feel earthier and more relaxing.
Once again, however, the most calming colors are the ones that you find calming. Although it’s generally an energizing color, bright turquoise might have a calming effect on you because it calls to mind a past vacation to Hawaii. Yellow, another energizing color, might lower your stress because it was the color of your childhood playroom. So be intentional with your color selection—and then show it off proudly as you social-network. Maybe the look will catch on …