What Your Favorite Paint Color Says About Your Personality

Paint color selection goes way deeper than just following the trends.

What Your Favorite Paint Color Says About Your Personality, yellow room
Photo: Getty Images

Look around the rooms in your home, and you'll probably pick up on a theme (or two). Perhaps you're gazing out at a sea of blues and greens—or a spectrum of sunset shades. "Paint color is an expression of your personality," says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color. "We branch out occasionally, but most of us have a proclivity for certain shades." Whether you gravitate towards warm shades, cool hues, jewel tones, or neutrals could indicate that you seek closeness, that you're practical, or that you're the life of the party. Read on to discover the meaning behind your favorite paint colors, plus tips for creating looks everyone can live with.

01 of 08

If You Gravitate to Soft, Warm Shades

Orange living room
Adrian Briscoe/Homes & Gardens

Associated with sunshine and roaring fires, yellow and orange (and close cousins peach and pink) have a cheerful, welcoming personality. And most likely, so do you. "People who use warm tones tend to be friendly and nurturing—they love having others over," says Eiseman. The fuzzy feeling we get from these colors isn't just symbolic. Because of their brightness, warm shades appear to spring forward, literally making a room feel more intimate; cool hues, on the other hand, seem to recede, expanding a space.

02 of 08

Design Tips for Soft, Warm Shades

Yellow room with beige and black decor
Dan Duchars/Ideal Home

The luminous quality of the colors is also energizing, stimulating conversation and appetites, says Eiseman. Still, to some, warm can be cloying: Eve Ashcraft, author of The Right Color, had a client who compared a buttery yellow room to "cholesterol." To "bring the temperature down," she recommends mixing in cool blue-gray or green furnishings. Also consider less saturated versions of your favorite colors.

03 of 08

If You Gravitate to Soft, Cool Hues

Mint green room with pink decor
Adrian Briscoe/Homes & Gardens

"Most reactions to color come about because of what's around us in nature," says Eiseman. Studies show that designing spaces with certain universal truths in mind can promote calm, creativity, or productivity. People tend to associate pale to medium blues, lavenders, and greens with the sky, a body of water, or a wide-open field—elements we perceive as being tranquil and soothing. And because mild, cool shades have a lower intensity than warm or bright ones, they are literally easier on the eyes, says Ron Reed, assistant professor of interior design at Texas State University in San Marcos and author of Color + Design: Transforming Interior Space.

04 of 08

Design Tips for Soft, Cool Hues

Light blue room with books on wall
Dan Duchars/Ideal Home

If you are drawn to blues and their brethren, you probably view your home as an oasis of calm in a hectic world. You may also be a bit of an introvert. (And we don't mean that disparagingly—check out the bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking for a celebration of the introspective among us.) To prevent watery shades from feeling chilly, Ashcraft suggests balancing them with hints of yellow, orange, or brown in your furniture and accessories.

05 of 08

If You Gravitate to Jewel Tones

Purple room with yellow decor
Tim Young/Ideal Home

Colors that seem plucked from the red carpet on Oscars night—ruby, emerald, sapphire, amethyst, topaz—lend instant va-va-voom. Like the celebrities who turn heads in those hues, you are probably outgoing, confident, and creative. "People who choose these colors want to feel inspired by their environments; they thrive on the stimulation," says Ashcraft. The brilliant, concentrated colors are wonderful at minimizing flaws. They can make a room without much architectural interest feel glamorous, create intimacy in an imposing space, and play up the coziness in a small room, says Reed.

06 of 08

Design Tips for Jewel Tones

Purple room with floral artwork
Simon Bevan/Homes & Gardens

"If you paint a tiny bathroom navy blue, it will seem dark and confining, but sapphire has a dynamic, enveloping effect," Eiseman says. "It has to do with the brightness of the color." To keep things feeling cohesive, not chaotic, pair jewel tones with neutrals or colors that have a similar intensity. Love the shades but wary of using them all over? Eiseman suggests starting in places where you don't spend a ton of time, such as a hallway, powder room, or dining room.

07 of 08

If You Gravitate to Neutrals

White and grey room with red decor
Jake Curtis/Livingetc

Like rocks along the coast or monuments of marble or granite, gray, brown, beige, and ivory have a feeling of permanence and a crisp, classic look. If this appeals to you, you are probably even-keeled and practical, and not interested in re-painting your rooms every few years because you've tired of the shades, says Eiseman. You may also be in on a trade secret: Earthy walls allow you to use more color in your accessories and furnishings. "It's really smart if you're a color person to do a neutral backdrop and let your bright art and objects shine," says Ashcraft.

08 of 08

Design Tips for Neutrals

Beige room with light pink curtains
Polly Wreford/Homes & Gardens

If color isn't your thing, you can still avoid the most common critique of neutral spaces—they're "boring"—by working in dark and light tones (say, an ecru sofa and chocolate brown rug) and plenty of texture, says Reed. His advice: Combine smooth and nubby fabrics with wood, glass, metal, and mirrored surfaces. "Playing up contrast keeps a neutral environment from feeling clinical," he says.

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