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Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

psychological effects of colors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Meet the Author and Your Future Designer: Julio Arco is a passionate architect with years of experience in architecture, interior design, urban design, and housing. He studied at prestigious universities across North America and Europe. 


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Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors – Introduction Video 

Why are Colors Important in Evidence-Based Design for Pet-Friendly Interiors?

Usually, when people describe color, they think of a hue, such as an object as bluish, but more elements describe colors, such as saturation and brightness. When people refer to hue, they are referring to the wavelength of a light beam, but, to be more specific, saturation is how pure a color is, while brightness indicates how light or dark a color is.

That is why design professionals, interior designers, and architects should learn these principles and include them in their design process to make more informed design decisions regardless of the interior design style. Consequently, improving the health quality and well-being of people by creating evidence-based designs with the best possible outcomes.

Research shows that aside from hue, saturation, and brightness significantly influence how people respond emotionally to color in built environments (Augustin, 2009). This means that colors with higher brightness and saturation levels appear more pleasurable to people, improving their mood and well-being. Color saturation also influences energy levels, increasing with color saturation and decreasing with brightness (Rostami, 2013, pp.99-105). Pleasure is influenced to a greater amount by brightness than by saturation, and arousal can be strongly influenced by color saturation (Valdez & Mehrabian, 1994).

Furthermore, research and color theory suggests how different colors are perceived in the built environment and which emotions they generate. Therefore, a specific color should be chosen depending on the area and the type of activity. The following color properties and descriptions were retrieved from Colour Affects (The Colour Affects System of applied colour psychology, developed by Angela Wright, is built on the pairing of colour physics with psychology to evoke consistently reproducible – and predictable – psychological response to colour in the great majority of people.)

This Article is part of a series called Best 8 Evidence-Based Design Principles for Pet-Friendly Designs.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Do Dogs See Colors Similar to Humans?

There is no question that pets play a vital role in the lives of their owners. Pets provide companionship, love, and security, and for many people, they are an essential part of the family.

There has been a growing trend of designing homes with pet-friendly features to make life easier for both pets and their owners in recent years. This trend has led to the development a new field called “pet interior design.”

While there are no specific standards or regulations governing pet interior design, particular guidelines should be followed to create a safe and comfortable environment for both pets and their owners.

When designing for pets, the most important consideration is understanding the psychological effects that different colors have on them. Each color can evoke other emotions in pets, and it is essential to choose colors that will create a calm and relaxed environment.

But first, we must understand how dogs see colors.

How do dogs see colors?

Did you know that dogs see colors differently than we do? Most people think that dogs only see in black and white, but that’s not true! Dogs actually see a lot of colors, but they’re not as vivid or as many as we see. While they can’t see reds and greens, experts agree that dogs do see most other colors – including blacks, whites, grays, yellows, and blues. So the next time you’re playing fetch with your dog, keep in mind that the toy you’re throwing might not look the same to them as it does to you!

How do we know which colors dogs can see?

As it turns out, my dog Thor’s world isn’t as colorful as I thought. According to a study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, dogs see the world mostly in yellows, blues, and grays. They see green, yellow, and orange as shades of yellow, and violet and blue both appear blue.

So next time you’re marveling at a beautiful sunset with your furry friend, keep in mind that he’s probably not seeing the same neon pinks and oranges that you are.

But even though his color vision isn’t as intense as yours, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the beauty of nature.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

What are the Psychological Effects of Each Color in Humans?


Positive properties include Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival,” fight or flight,” stimulation, masculinity, and excitement. 

Negative properties include Defiance, aggression, visual impact, and strain.

Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful color. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is, and, therefore, it grabs our attention first; hence, its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its physical effect stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the “fight or flight” instinct. Red is strong and very basic. Pure red is the simplest color with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive. 

psychological effects
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, and calm.

Negative properties include coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, and unfriendliness. 

Blue is the color of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally instead of the physical reaction we have to the red color. Intense blues will stimulate clear thought, and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid in concentration. Consequently, it is serene and mentally calming. It is the color of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world’s favorite color. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional, and unfriendly. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, and creativity. 

Negative properties include Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, and suicide. 

The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case, the stimulus is emotional; therefore, yellow is the strongest color psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and self-esteem; it is the color of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a color scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our “yellow streak” can surface.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, and peace. 

Negative Properties Include Boredom, stagnation, blandness, and enervation. 

Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatsoever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the center of the spectrum is the color of balance – a more important concept than many people realize. When the world around us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, so we are reassured by green on a primitive level. Negatively, it can mean stagnation and, incorrectly used, will be perceived as being too bland. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, and quality. 

Negative properties include Introversion, decadence, suppression, and inferiority. 

The shortest wavelength is violet, often described as purple. It takes awareness to a higher level of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introverted and encourages deep contemplation or meditation. It has associations with royalty and usually communicates the finest possible quality. Being the last visible wavelength before the ultraviolet ray, it associations with time, space, and the cosmos. Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection, and the wrong tone communicates something cheap and nasty faster than any other color. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, and fun. 

Negative properties include deprivation, frustration, frivolity, and immaturity. 

Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating, and a reaction to it is a combination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort – food, warmth, shelter, etc. – and sensuality. It is a “fun” color, and negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite – deprivation. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include Physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, and survival of the species. 

Negative properties include Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, and physical weakness. 

Being a tint of red, pink also affects us physically, but it soothes rather than stimulates. Pink is a powerful color, psychologically. It represents the feminine principle and survival of the species; it is nurturing and soothing. Too much pink is physically draining and can be emasculating

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include Psychological neutrality.

Negative properties include lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, and substance. 

Negative properties include Oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, and efficiency. 

Negative properties include sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, and elitism. 

Just as black is total absorption, so white is total reflection. In effect, it reflects the full force of the spectrum into our eyes. Thus, it also creates barriers, but differently from black, and it is often a strain to look at. It communicates, “Touch me not!” White is purity and, like black, uncompromising; it is clean, hygienic, and sterile. The concept of sterility can also be negative. Visually, white gives a heightened perception of space.

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Positive properties include seriousness, warmth, nature, earthiness, reliability, and support. 

Negative properties include lack of humor, heaviness, and lack of sophistication. 

Brown usually consists of red and yellow, with a large percentage of black. Consequently, it has much of the same seriousness as black but is warmer and softer. It has elements of red and yellow properties, and Brown has associations with the earth and the natural world. It is a solid, reliable color, and most people find it quietly supportive – more positively than the ever-popular black, which is suppressive rather than supportive. 

(Colour Affects Psychological properties of the eleven primary colors. Source: Wright, (2004).

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors
Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

What are the Psychological Effects of Colors in Dogs?

As we’ve learned, our furry friends see the world differently than we do. And when it comes to choosing colors for our homes, it’s essential to keep in mind that what looks significant to us may not be so appealing to them. Dogs and cats will perceive what we perceive as different colors as being in the gray range, making it difficult for them to differentiate between surfaces. So if you’re looking to create a space where you and your pet will feel comfortable, it’s best to stick with colors in the visible spectrum of cats and dogs, such as blues, greens, and purples.

Have you ever noticed how animals tend to be calm in natural environments? There’s a reason for that! Studies have shown that colors inspired by nature do not have an effect on animals as well as humans. When choosing a color scheme for you and your furry friend, it’s essential to keep this in mind.

Light colors on the blue, green, or violet end of the spectrum are best, as they will appear more muted to animals. You can also choose a nature-inspired color scheme; after all, there’s a reason why we associate green with tranquility. These colors will help your animal feel more relaxed, but they will also help you create a calm and inviting space.

Our friends at FearFree created a color palette suitable for dogs and cats. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Combining Colors

Furthermore, research suggests that combining different colors in the same built environment can trigger different responses in people and positive outcomes. According to color theory, there are three basic formulas to create color harmony (Colour Matters, 2015). Creating harmony between different colors in the built environment can become pleasant to the user when engaging in color design. Furthermore, it can develop a sense of stability and balance in the built environment. On the other hand, when the color combination is not in harmony, it can become either dull or disordered. So the human brain will not engage and will reject under stimulation of the senses, in this case, the sight; or given the case where it is over-stimulated or chaotic, the user won’t be able to stand. The human brain will reject what it cannot organize or understand; the brain prefers a logical structure (Smith & Kosslyn, 2007).

According to color theory, there are three basic formulas to create a harmonious combination of colors.

The first formula matches analogous colors that are side-by-side on a 12-part color wheel. Moreover, according to (Augustin (2012), “analogous colors can create a relaxing effect when used together”.

The second formula uses complementary colors from the 12-part color wheel. These colors are opposite to each other, creating maximum contrast and stability. Moreover, using contrasting colors can create an energizing effect and draw attention to a specific point (Augustin & Miller, 2012).

In the third formula, in accordance with biophilic design, nature offers a perfect example of color harmony. Then again, everything is given to us by nature. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors


Color is one of the most essential elements in interior design, and it can affect our moods, our health, and our wellbeing. The right color can make a room feel cozy and inviting, while the wrong color can make a room feel cold and sterile.

Color can also have a profound effect on our psychological state. Specific colors can help to calm and relax us, while others can energize and stimulate us. And, because the color is such a powerful tool, it should be used carefully and thoughtfully in any interior design project.

Following this research will provide designers, architects, design professionals, or any interior designer with the needed guidelines based on credible research and quality evidence-based design.

So, next time you’re choosing paint colors for your home, keep in mind these evidence-based design strategies and the psychological effects of color. Choose colors that will create the mood you want in each room, and keep in mind the needs of your furry friends. With a little bit of planning, you can create a space that is both stylish and inviting and will make you and your pet feel right at home.

This article is a part of a series called Evidence-Based Design Principles for Great Pet-Friendly Interiors, click this link if you want to learn more. 

Amazing Psychological Effects of Color in Pet-Friendly Interiors

Hire an Online Interior Designer at Havenly

There are several online interior design websites, but Havenly is your best option to hire from a robust list of interior designers that will help you in decorating and creating the perfect dog-friendly home. When you sign up for Havenly, you will take a short quiz about your design style and what you are looking for in a designer. Havenly will then match you with a designer who will help you select paint colors, furniture, and accessories that are both stylish and safe for your furry friend.

In addition, your Havenly designer will be able to provide tips on how to create a space that is both comfortable for your dog and inviting for guests. With Havenly, creating a beautiful and functional home that your dog will love is easy and stress-free.

Click here if you want to learn more about Havenly or book an interior designer and get 25% off your design package if you click here!

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M.Arch. Julio Arco
M.Arch. Julio Arco

Bachelor of Architecture - ITESM University
Master of Architecture - McGill University
Architecture in Urban Context Certificate - LDM University
Interior Designer - Havenly
Architecture Professor - ITESM University

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