Picking colours for your child's room

14 May 2020

From a young age we start to develop memory associations to colour. For example, whether a piece of fruit is ripe to eat, or whether something coloured black and yellow is safe to touch? In this way, we come to understand it’s meaning and effects. Colour affects the way our brain functions. It helps us to absorb new information and affects mood and behaviour.

We associate bright and vibrant colours with playfulness and youth, they’re often the choice for decorating a children’s room or play area. But is this the right approach? Research conducted by Global company Hempel may change your way of thinking!

Hempel conducted a series of experiments which looked at how colour affected children’s kindergarten behaviour. The experiment took place in Hungary and was filmed with children from all over the world. Hempel wanted to show how their behaviour was affected by the colour surrounding them.  

They took a room in a kindergarten and painted it bright red. They put the children in it and asked them to play the way they wanted. There were no rules and teachers were asked not to interfere. The following day the room was decorated in a light blue and the children were asked to play in it again.

What became apparent, and a fascinating revelation, was how differently the children played in each room. In the red room, the children behaved more ‘dynamically’. They were running around, fighting and making a mess! In the light blue room however, the children’s behaviour was more collaborative; they played together and showed more patience with each other.

Red is a colour that has a physical effect. It raises the heart rate and is an energising and activating colour. The proportion in which a colour is used is a key consideration when thinking about the mood or behaviour you would like to enhance in a room. In general, large amounts of very bright colours can be over-stimulating, sometimes creating the opposite effect to what we want – as in the example of the kindergarten children! However, the stimulus of pale or light blue is not on the body or emotions, but on the mind, it encourages more ‘thoughtful’ and less ‘active’ behaviours.


rainbow mountains playroom

Header & above image by Vicki Paxton, @ourcotswoldfamilybarn


Colour is vital to a child’s development and understanding of the world. You can create a supportive environment for your little ones that encourages positive habits, learning and behaviours by incorporating softer, paler or lighter versions of colour on large areas such as walls. More diluted versions of colour lessen the stimulating effects. Blues, greens and soft purples like Albie, Ariel, Lars, Joseph and Liv, are more calming. Whereas the soft yellow tones of Evie, Tori, Opal or Isaac can enhance feelings of confidence and self-esteem. Add personality and character by painting bursts of colourful highlights in smaller quantities of brighter hues like apple-green Frida, turquoise Nora or Darcey, cheerful yellow Toni and lively red Magnus on furniture, doors, skirting and windows.

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