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How to Pick the Right Color Scheme for an Office

What is the best color for an office? Learn more about color psychology and which colors help create productive office spaces.

One of the most important aspects of how to design an office is color. You may not realize it, but the colors that decorate the walls, floors, and furniture of a space can greatly influence various aspects of your experience—from your general mood to your energy levels and productivity. 1They can also play a role in a person’s aptitude for focus and concentration.

For that reason, it’s important to choose your colors wisely for your corporate office interior design. The best office colors fuel productivity, efficiency, and employee performance. If you’re reconsidering your office colors (both for indoor and outdoor office space), here’s what you should know before you start browsing swatches and samples.

Color Theory and Your Office Space

The first step to choosing the best office colors is developing a familiarity with color theory, or the relationships between colors and how best to combine them in your office space design.

Color theory is a broad field with many complex layers, but its basic tenets are fairly straightforward. In fact, you were probably introduced to much of what you need to know about color theory back in elementary school.

The theory of color is credited to the famous mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton.2 It operates under the understanding that colors are not objects in and of themselves. Instead, colors are manifestations that occur when the human eye perceives certain light.

From there, Newton organized all of the visible colors, shades, and hues into three categories. Those categories are:

  • Primary colors –The colors in this group are red, yellow, and blue. By mixing these colors in certain combinations, you can create all other colors.
  • Secondary colors –The secondary colors are orange, purple, and green. To create these colors, you need only combine two or more of the primary colors.
  • Tertiary colors – Newton considered all other hues to be various combinations of primary and secondary colors.

    With these categories in place, Newton then devised the color wheel, which maps out the relationships between primary colors and shows how secondary and tertiary colors are achieved. These days, the color wheel is an important tool that designers of all kinds use to create color palettes that are pleasing to the eye.

    How Color Theory and Color Psychology Might Impact Your Office

    While color theory imposes a logic on the structure of colors, color psychology attempts to chart the range of mental or emotional responses that colors can evoke. As such, understanding the effects that various colors can have is critical to choosing office color schemes that inspire employees and boost productivity.

    Color psychology, especially with regard to interior design, primarily deals with a function of the color wheel we haven’t discussed yet, which is the distinction between “warm” and “cool” colors. These distinctions are based on the feelings that the human mind is likely to associate with them.

    There can be some variation between these colors depending on the exact color theory at work, but they generally include a mix of six primary, secondary, and tertiary colors:1

  • Warm colors – Red paint, orange paint, and yellow are considered warm colors. In general, these colors tend to evoke uplifting, energetic responses. Any of these are also considered a bold color.
  • Cool colors –This category includes blue, green, and purple or magenta, a shade that’s between purple and red. According to color psychology, these are calming and inspirational shades that are believed to be conducive to creativity and productivity.

    As colors can generate such powerful responses, it’s easy to see how choosing the right shades and combinations is integral to designing office spaces that work. Now, let’s examine which color schemes might be suitable for your space.

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    The Best Color Schemes for Corporate Offices

    With the principles of color theory and color psychology in mind, picking office color schemes becomes a simple task, no matter the specific work that happens there. With theory and psychology as your guide, you can easily choose the best color for office walls, carpets, and more.

    So, what are the best office color schemes? Here are six superb options for color schemes that spark creativity, fuel productivity, and energize employees.

    #1 Blue Color Schemes

    Perhaps the most well-known cool color, the color blue, and its various shades are considered to be among the most effective for promoting productive workspaces. In the human mind, blue tones tend to be associated with the following characteristics:

    • Security
    • Serenity
    • Stability

    In general, we tend to feel positively about blue, perhaps because it is one of the most frequently-occurring colors in nature.3 Studies show that rooms featuring blue color schemes are productive, focused spaces. 4This indicates that blue colors promote calm but engaged mindsets that are ready to tackle challenges, solve problems, and produce results.

    Blue color schemes give you plenty of options for designing office spaces. Blue pairs well with warm pinks, yellows, and reds, and is complemented by whites, grays, and other shades of blue.

    #2 Green Color Schemes

    Another of nature’s most popular colors, green can work very similarly to blue and is also regarded as a cool color. It represents harmony and balance, and can inspire feelings of:

    • Calm
    • Motivation
    • Optimism

    According to studies, shades of green tend to put people at ease5 and, compared to red or gray office color schemes, green colors may help balance your mood. 6Green may be among the best colors for office walls, thanks to its potential to minimize stress and maximize focus.7

    #3 Red Color Schemes

    Red is the quintessential warm color, capable of infusing spaces with energy, vitality, and drive. It’s exuberant, lively, and often associated with power and urgency.

    In the office, shades of red may help light a fire that inspires employees to work hard. It can be especially effective in high-activity offices where the pace of work moves quickly and competition is important.

    In addition, red colors have been linked with dominance and success, especially in the world of sports. According to research, athletes who wear red on the court or field are often more likely to emerge victorious, suggesting that red color schemes could transform your workforce into a winning team.8

    For the office, be sure to temper red color schemes with cooler, less-vibrant tones. This can help bring out the best qualities of the shade and ensure that it amps up your employees’ productivity, not their anxiety. Consider pairing red with the following colors:

    • Cool colors like blue, green, and purple
    • Soft whites
    • Gray

    #4 Gray Color Schemes

    The color gray exists at the midway point between two non-colors—black and white. Between them, a spectrum of gray tones evokes a gamut of associations. On their own, gray hues can be calm and sobering. They project many of the same qualities as cool colors, like reliability and stability.9

    In an office, gray color schemes could create atmospheres that are:

    • Subdued
    • Focused
    • Sensible

    Because gray tones are so reserved, it’s a good idea to go for gray color schemes that incorporate other colors that make up for the energy that grays lack. Blues and greens can make gray schemes stimulating. On the other hand, warm colors like shades of yellow and orange can infuse grays with vitality and enthusiasm, promote efficiency in the office.

    #5 Yellow Color Schemes

    Yellow is an intense color that can inspire a range of intense emotional reactions. Fortunately, many of the feelings it conjures are perfect for the office, making yellow one of the best office colors on the color wheel.

    Color psychology suggests that yellow is capable of making people feel energized. It’s a warm color that projects the following qualities:10

    • Excitement
    • Enthusiasm
    • Creativity

    In offices, yellow color schemes could encourage the best from your employees. When combined with colors that balance out its vibrancy and vigor, like blues, greens, whites, and shades of gray, yellow could boost employee confidence and foster innovative thinking.

    #6 Neutral Color Schemes

    Neutral colors prove that sometimes the best office color schemes are those that actually keep colors to a minimum. The category includes such colors as:11

    • Beige
    • Brown
    • Cream
    • Gray
    • Taupe
    • White
    • Black

    Upon first inspection, neutral colors are basic tones that appear virtually colorless. But when you look closely, hidden hues become apparent in certain light and change depending upon the time of day.

    Neutral colors can be inviting, soothing, and comforting, depending on how you incorporate them into office color schemes. On their own, they’re excellent for areas in the office where you want to encourage calm and relaxation, like the front lobby or the employee break room. Off-white shades like ivory, beige, and gray can be particularly effective.

    Then again, neutral color schemes can also benefit from bolder tones. Go for orangey-yellow tones like clay or terra cotta to inject neutral schemes with verve and excitement, blue-grays for creativity and productivity, or shades of pink to encourage optimistic outlooks.

    So now you know what affect each color has, you can decide the office wall color and the best color scheme for interior painting, exterior painting, and accent color.

    Juniper Office: Creating Ideal Office Spaces

    Now that you have an understanding of how colors can influence human behavior, you’re one step closer to picking an office color scheme that works for your space. But that doesn’t mean you have to tackle the project on your own. For reliable, professional guidance, trust your workroom to Juniper Office.

    Whether you’re redesigning your entire office or merely considering a new paint job, the experts at Juniper are here to help. From 3D office planning that lets you visualize your options to modular furniture and accessories, our design services enable you to transform every inch of your office into a place of productivity.

    With Juniper, the perfect office is just a click away. Contact us today.


    1. Living, Etc. Want to feel instantly better? These theories of color psychology in interior design will make everything more happy.
    2. Interaction-Design. What is Color Theory?
    3. Edinburgh University Science Meda. The Colours of Nature.
    4. Asian Journal of Behavioral Studies. The Effects of Colour in Work Environment: A systematic review.
    5. Sage Journals. The Effects of Color on the Moods of College Students.
    6. American Chemical Society. Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion.
    7. Taylor Francis Online. Not Just Scenery: Viewing Nature Pictures Improves Executive Attention in Older Adults.
    8. Red enhances human performance in contests.
    9. Empowered By Color. The Color Gray.
    10. VeryWell Mind. The Color Psychology of Yellow.
    11. Masterclass. What Are Neutral Colors? Tips for Using Neutrals in Your Décor.