• Q and A
  • Q&A - Interiors


The Effects of Color on Interior Design

How depressing is grey?

Our offices were just repainted and recarpeted. The walls are white and the floor and wall trim are grey. What can I research can I show the department director to impress on him how depressing this color choice is?Linda Jennings

Linda, Suggestion #1: Skip the research. Just say to him "The lack of any color and use of two greys makes for a dull and drab work environment". The truth helps now and then.

Suggestion #2: Become depressed. Have the rest of the staff become morbid and depressed. See if your boss notices. Create quiet, sullen workgroups and discuss topics like - the end of the world, morgue-life, and terminal diseases. Any interaction with the boss should have a dismal deathly overcast to it. See if he links the new office setting to the behavioral changes in his staff.

Suggestion #3: Get analytical. Explain to your boss that the combination of that grey and white means he (or she?) has emotionally turned off from their work environment and probably his staff too. He may repress any emotion in the office (that could actually be good...or bad). Explain that the colors also indicate he has a desire to be free, to be liberated, to escape from the situation. That it means a 'fresh start' somewhere else is subconsciously desired.

Suggestion #4: Tough it out. The colors indicate the boss has disconnected. They indicate the boss needs to get away, or possibly get away altogether - and find some other place to work. (Think I'm kidding?) The new color scheme will hold over your boss for awhile. But it won't genuinely resolve his issues.

So: My guess: Within 4-8 months, your boss will be elsewhere. Post and let me know - if that happens. :-)

Linda Jennings
The director did not pick the colors, but you've described the person who did perfectly! I'm doing my best to cover up the grey to keep from running down the halls screaming, "Let me out of here!"

Nancy Kwallek of Austin has done work trying to establish effects of color schemes no workers. They studied monochrome white, bright red, and light blue-green. She found (and these results HAVE to be seen as SUSPECT) that red caused more confusion and tension, higher scores for vigor were found in the blue green than in the red. White offices seemed to depress those who could not screen out environmental stimuli. Only when individual differences of abilities to screen out this environmental stimuli were taken into accout did the color have any effect on productivity. These findings are an extension of the Yerkes-Dodson principle. Mood states based on color schemes are probably more semantic, associative than physiological...Magenta Yglesias' studies with ganzefields would prove this out. But hey, since you are dealing with a boss, feel free to distort these facts in any way you can to get what you want!

Color Matters for the Office

Subscribe to the free Color Matters Newsletter

Color Matters is a registered trademark of J.L. Morton.
Graphics and Text: Copyright (c) 1995-2024, J.L.Morton, All rights reserved

copyscape seal blue 120x100