What Your Favorite Paint Color Says About Your Personality

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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.

Warm Colors

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Associated with sunshine and roaring fires, happy 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.

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.

Cool Hues

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“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.

Whites

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White is many people’s go-to paint color, and it’s easy to see why. White on a wall looks clean, crisp, and fresh. Plus, whites can range from warm parchment-y tones to icy hues with light blue tints. People who choose white generally tend to be tidy, neat, and organized. They want their home to reflect the same peace and clarity they try to achieve in all aspects of their lives.

Jewel Tones

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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.

“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.

Blues

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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.

Neutrals

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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.

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.

Blacks

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Black is not for everyone, but if you’re into the bold color, it’s safe to say that you’re likely pretty bold, too! Black paint tends to add luxury, moodiness, and a level of sophistication to a space. All other decor pops against it, making it the perfect backdrop of jewel-toned accessories or mod white furniture. If you’re looking to add warmth to your room, this might be for you!

Pinks

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People are now using lighter pinks as a neutral, which we totally dig. The color can range from light, feminine blush tones to dramatic magentas and can evoke feelings of compassion and love. If this color seems right up your alley, you’re likely creative, joyful, and playful. And the color will give you that same vibe right back. It can even make you feel happy!

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