By Iván Cotado on 06/19/2013

How to choose colors to paint a house or a business.- Probably this is the question that I have been asked the most times during my years as an interior design professional, waiting, of course, for a rapid response in the form of color. And without a doubt this is also the question that I have left most unanswered. Choosing the colors to paint, it does not matter what, without other foundation than the personal desire for one or another color is an act of irresponsibility that, on the other hand, we could use as a filter or detector of professional quality.

Cómo elegir colores para pintar una casa o un negocio. Estación Cabo Branco en Joao Pessoa (Brasil) de Oscar Niemeyer.

We will not tire of repeating that the design is born as a response to a need, therefore it must be understood as a tool to achieve an objective, to cover that need. In the case of a commercial design, the final objective, passing through many others, will be to sell more. In the case of a home, it could be that it helps us to be happier.

If we offered an immediate response to the question posed, we would be wasting the great potential of the design, we would be reducing it to a purely aesthetic issue. It is necessary to remember that good design is one that contemplates a perfect balance between aesthetic, functional and structural factors.

Well, before a question so empty when choosing colors to paint a house or a business I always respond to the Galician:


– What does it depend on? -what my little admired Pau Donés would say.

It depends on the objective we intend to achieve, and based on this we will choose the color or colors to paint. Let’s see then some of the possible objectives that we could pretend and the colors that can help us achieve them.

Colors to paint. Objectives to achieve
1) Psychology
The psychology of color is the field of study that analyzes the effect of colors on perception and human behavior. Aristotle, more than 2000 years ago, already devoted himself to his analysis by relating the “basic colors” with earth, water, sky and fire.

The colors to paint, infinite in reality, could basically be grouped into three large groups attending to the sensations that cause: Warm, cold and neutral.

The warm colors range from yellows, through oranges, to reds. The cold colors, green, blue and purple. And the neutral colors, white, gray and black.

Each color is capable by itself of provoking certain sensations in the person that we must control as designers or prescribers, hence the importance of the choice.

For example, when selecting colors to paint a dentist’s office or similar, whites or creams would be a good choice, since they denote hygiene, cleanliness, neatness, peace, serenity. Also the range of blues for its relaxing and reflective properties. On the other hand, we should avoid red, orange or too hot / hot colors because they would cause alteration, excitement, movement … and in turn would evoke, in this case negatively, blood and pain.

Perhaps on more than one occasion you have wondered why museums are mostly white. Precisely because this is a color that we perceive as absence of color, therefore as absence of sensations. Apart from that serenity that we mentioned, there are few sensations that emerge from the color white, in this way we get that the only elements capable of influencing the visitor are the works exhibited in the museum and not the space itself, granting the true and unique protagonism to the content and not to the continent. As a general rule, giving prominence to the product is a goal in commercial interior design, hence the range of whites are colors for painting that are widely used in the design of points of sale.

In fast food restaurants we work in a diametrically opposite way and choose warm, vivid, intense and electric colors to keep the visitor active, awake and in a constant state of excitement. In this way, he will eat fast, pay and leave in the shortest time possible, favoring the rotation required by this type of establishment. This range of colors is also suitable for areas where some impulsive, fraternal, even romantic activity is developed. Combined with glossy or matte finishes and selecting the right degree of saturation they can be ideal for living rooms, couple rooms, or impulse points of sale.

We must also contemplate the sensations depending on the country, culture and even religion. For example, the color white represents mourning in some cultures and yet here is the color that brides wear. Some colors can even be offensive based on these reasons and it is not necessary to project in other latitudes to take it into account, it is enough that the effect is significant for the target to which the design in question is addressed.

2) Associations
Certain colors are always associated with certain concepts being practically inseparable from each other. The most obvious example is the green color that has even come to function as the noun or name with which an attitude or responsible way of acting towards the environment is called.

If we treat a project with ecological, sustainable and efficient values, the color green and its natural companions, mainly brown, would be a suitable color palette.

Another common association is to relate the pink with the female sex and blue with the male, especially when we design children’s spaces. Once I understood