Color psychologist reveals why we're swapping gray for brighter colors in our home this year

Has your appetite for color changed throughout the last year? This celebrated color expert can explain why

Color psychologist discusses color in lockdown, plant in turquoise painted room, green paint photo
(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

If you have noticed your affection towards certain colors change over recent months- you are not alone. The pandemic has seen a shift in our home decor choices, as we notably move towards warm earthy shades and brighter colours.

While we may recognize the craving to inject these trendy tones in our interiors, we may question where this desire stems from. Thankfully for us, leading international color psychologist and author of The Little Book of Colour, Karen Haller, has the answers. 

Bright color trend for 2021 

'Last year, amid the lockdown, I spoke to a lot of people, and I watched and observed patterns of behavior surrounding color psychology. I saw desires for color split in two,' Karen Haller shared. 

'One side of the split are the people who want to live in an abundance of color because they are trying to bring more emotion, optimism, joy, and happiness into their homes,' Karen announced. 

Color psychologist discusses color in lockdown, dark blue and pastel pink painted room

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

The expert continued, explaining how we may notice ourselves using 'almost too much color' because we 'aren't getting the stimulation that we usually feel when we go outside.'

'When we want to feel stimulated, we can turn to color because it's very bright and saturated. These shades offer emotional stimulation because color is emotion. This emotion is what color psychology is- it's the connection that we have with color, and it influences how we think, how we feel, and how we behave.'

Color psychologist discusses color in lockdown, plant in a green painted room

(Image credit: COAT)

Karen’s observations regarding bright colors are further emphasized by Rob Whitaker, Creative Director at Claybrook Studio, who highlighted the desire for blushing pastels and intense natural shades, such as deep blues and greens. 

'Over lockdown, Kate Blush was by far the most popular shade purchased from our paint palette,' he explains. 

'It's a lovely soft blush pink with a hint of apricot. Working equally well in contrast to stronger tones like deep blues and greens, it's also a calming stand-alone hue, perfect for clients spending more time at home. It's unique in that it works in every room. It's not every color that feels right in bathrooms as well as sitting rooms, but this one seems to hit the mark.'

Little Greene green walls in a colorful dining room

(Image credit: Little Greene National Trust Colourcard – Green)

Furthermore, Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director Little Greene also emphasized:

'More than ever, it's been really important to create a space that feels relaxing, comforting, and calm. Alongside the move towards warmer natural stone colors such as 'Travertine' and 'Clay,' green in all its hues has remained really popular for us, from bold, deep greens to earthy and more muted tones, we find ourselves craving colors that make us feel closer to the natural world.

Because greens come in varying undertones and depths, they offer lots of flexibility to create very different atmospheres within a space.'

Color psychologist discusses color in lockdown, flowers in gray painted room

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

However, gray is still far from falling out favour. According to Karen, the other 'side of the split' is the stony neutral. 

Despite the evident growing affection towards brighter colors, gray offers a different appeal that people have enjoyed over recent months. 

'Gray represents the need to block everything out and to pull the duvet over yourself. Some people use the color to hibernate and shut the world out. It offers the feeling of safety and an opportunity to hide from the world,' Karen shared. 

If you're suddenly feeling a desire to inject some gray into your home, see our gray bedroom ideas - 25 stylish grey bedroom spaces from stone to steel

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.