Design Psychology: The Color Green

Design Psychology: The Color Green

The color green evokes ideas of nature, leaves, calm and more in many people. The psychology of the color green is fascinating, especially when we realized we really don’t see nearly as much green in fabric as we’d expect. Once you familiarize yourself with this color’s great benefits and how to utilize different shades for different purposes, we hope you’ll be on board with us in hoping to see this wonderful color in much more design!

The Green Color Wheel

Before diving in, let’s talk for a second about the color wheel.
There is green, pure primary color green. And it’s pretty bright! That’s green that has no added white, black, grey, yellow or blue.


  Pure green with added black, white or grey

When you add black, you darken the green and reduce its brightness, without changing the overall tone. It’s still the middle-green. When you add white, you don’t necessarily make it less bright, just lighter (unless you get into pastel territory). If you add an even amount of white and black (grey) you get the same shade but not as bright.


Adding red, blue and yellow to pure green.

Obviously green is a combination of yellow and blue, and the levels of either in the particular shade can drastically change its appearance, and the emotions it evokes. Blue and yellow, being next to green on the color wheel simply create chartreuse or lime greens, or teals and sea greens. They still maintain green overall as long as you’re not further into their section of the wheel than green’s. But red, as the polar opposite on the color wheel, does something totally different.

When you look at the wide variety of shades of green, see if you can identify which colors have been added to it to achieve each color:


Image: Wikipedia ‘Sage (color)


Using Green in Interior Design

green yellow and blue room for a child

Image: ResourceFurniture

For a Cheerful, Happy Green Area

Bright green, especially with yellow added, can be sunny, bright and playful. Think of these shades as citrusy. If it looks like a melon or a lime, it’s a great addition for brightness in playful spaces, or to reduce gloominess in otherwise not so-exciting rooms like your laundry room or mudroom.


green kitchen island

Image: Kim Cornelison Photography/HGTV

Exciting Spaces with Bright Green

Pure green, or bright green, brings a lot of energy to a space. When used in limited amounts as an accent color, it breathes life into this kitchen. Bright shades of green, with or without yellow, are used in attention-getting design everywhere in our lives. Simply think about signs, traffic lights, and symbols for “YES!” All utilize bright green as a positive, and using it in design evokes the same emotions of energy and positive connotations.


Green for Contemporary and Modern Design

When combined with light gray or white, paler shades of green can feel quite fresh and contemporary! The pops of green in this bright room bring energy and a lovely spa-like feeling.



Image: Birch Lane – Heathfield Chester Rolled Arm Sofa


Regal-Looking Shades of Green

When slightly toned down to reduce brightness, we get into some of the really beautiful shades of green, like emerald green, forest green, and the oddly-named “office green”. If you’re looking for some drama, richness and elegance, forget about purples and golds – give rich greens a try.


sage green walls and a window with shiny off-white decorative swag

Green in Modern, Mature Spaces

Toned-down green, such as sage, celadon and avocado remove plenty of brightness and add red and various levels of yellow to achieve more of a naturally-occuring shade. As with any new paint color, put up samples on the wall and look at it throughout the day. In brighter light, many shades of green give feelings of energy but can transform into much more soothing colors as light dims in the evening.


white and greenish grey throw pillows accent a textured greyish couch

Grey-green, moss green and earthy greens are not only popular for inside homes, but also exteriors. If your home has a lot of wood accents, the addition of toned-down greens can instantly imbue any space with an organic, natural feel. If your overall room tones incorporate a lot more neutral greys, these shades of green will be beautiful additions.