Kids & Color

When designing with kids, they listen to their hearts and will most definitely select the most vibrant color in the palette for their walls.  Fire Engine Reds, Bright Sunny Yellows or even Bluer than Blue are the ones they’ll request to be surrounded with.  Although kids are drawn to primary colors, it’s not a great idea to have this in the room in which they will be sleeping or spending a lot of time as the bright dose of color will activate and energize them and ultimately sap their immune system.

As much as we want to surround kids with vibrant color it’s healthier to tone it down in spaces where they’ll spend lots of time, like bedrooms and classrooms. Avoid bright yellow!

But wait!  Those vibrant, clean colors will work against them and their parents if they are painted in a bedroom or a room where the child will spend a lot of time.  Those vivid, highly saturated hues are fun but will not allow the little ones to rest fully, sleep deeply and awaken refreshed.  Used in a play room can cause arguments (reds are activating), indigestion and irritability (yellow) and anxiety (vibrant blue).Here’s a tip when standing at the store with your child:  allow them to select the colors they want, then take them for ice cream.  Don’t argue about the color, they’ll remember the argument long after the wall color has changed many times over.

Come back to the store later without your child and select a paint color that is 4-5 tones lighter and more neutral.  Once you get it on the wall, they will love the color.  Many expert colorists don’t have exact ‘color memory’ and neither do the majority of people.  You’ll be giving them their ‘color’ but not the jolt that goes along with it.

Don’t forget to paint the ceiling as well…white ceilings can make life seem out of range for little ones as well as be overly stimulating.  Soften the color just a bit.


Nurseries need to be painted in muted tones so that babies are not so over-stimulated and uncomfortable. Very soft colors – pastels will ease them into the world as their vision comes into focus. Nurseries, like all our spaces, need to nourish us gently with color.

Babies eyes first respond to faces and to the contrast provided by black and white.  Small visual cues and a few accents of those will help the neural pathways that are forming in their brains via their eyes but a room of that would make them over stimulated.

Bright yellow is especially bad– in large quantities it has been shown to produce a colicky response in babies.

The Feeling of Color

We aren’t only talking about vision and brain development because color, which is light, speaks to us through our skin as well. Our skin can sense the light value and vibration and respond– we are all holistic beings, after all. The key is volume and amount, a small bit of bright color against a contrast of muted color is a good thing to stimulate brain development, too much bright color will not allow the child to calm, even in the dark of night when it would appear to be no color at all, we still feel the effect of the colors on the walls and furnishings.

Color Ideas

  •  Colors for babies are best to be muted with soft, delightful contrasts.
  • Try to choose colors that are not ‘clean’ or ‘white-based’ as these will tend to activate the space.
  • Pale pink and pale green with white trim is a very nice combo.
  • Light pale yellow and a soft, muted green would work wonderfully for either boy or girl.
  • The soft blues or aqua colors are lovely for both sexes because they create space and are sky-like. But be very careful when choosing blue. The pretty blue paint chips usually look way too blue on the wall while the much softer blues (with slight grey tints) actually translate into lovely baby room colors.

Don’t Forget

  • The Ceiling – Something beautiful on the ceiling is also fun because they spend a lot of time looking up!
  • Zero VOC paint – Zero VOC paint, like PPG Pure Performance, does not have harmful volatile organic compounds and has little to no smell (paint a room that day, occupy it that night). Zero VOC paint is better for the environment and provides a healthier room experience.  Other wonderful Zero VOC paints are available in many soft, neutral colors.
  • Avoid florescent light bulbs for a few reasons.  1) the color is harsh, 2) the gas inside the bulb is ignited with mini bursts of electricity and our eyes actually read that on/off and it exhausts our bodies and 3) florescent bulbs are made with Mercury, an extremely toxic chemical that can be lethal if the bulb is broken.

Colors as We Grow

At each age of our lives, we have needs for different colors.   For instance, between 0 and 1 we need high contrast in order for our brains and neural pathways to develop.  That’s not the only time we need higher contrast, as we age our eyes sometimes lose the ability to distinguish between subtle variations and at those times, it’s important that we are able to distinguish variations in elevations and the locations of doors, stairs and windows.   Teens are drawn toward darker, more evolved colors, as these colors help them feel protected and help them differentiate from their parents.  I recommend allowing teens to have a bit of black on their rooms, though not too much, perhaps one wall or a well-placed stripe.  Giving kids the ability to make decisions in their own spaces, while learning the effect of colors on their lives gives them valuable life and decision making skills.

Knowing a bit our developmental and  adaptive requirements can help when selecting a color palette for your home, family and office.  In addition, knowing which colors will further nourish and support each individual’s character energy, will help them lead a healthier, happier, more fulfilled life.   Personal Energy Dynamic. 


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Filed under Color, Color & Design, Life

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