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Brighten Up at Work…the Right Way!

| August 10, 2013 | 7 Comments

Office Space

It’s easy to incorporate colorful metaphors into any conversation and workplace situations are no exception. For example, if someone got a promotion over you, you might be “green with envy” or “seeing red.” Whether it made you jealous or angry, there’s a pretty good chance you were “feeling blue” about it and maybe you even ended the day under a “black cloud.”

In addition to colors, lighting themes are also prevalent in our workday speech. After all, would you rather be partnered up with a “dim” coworker or someone full of “bright” ideas?

There’s no doubt about it: colors and lighting have a profound effect on our emotions and sense of wellbeing. When it comes to our working environments, the color and lighting combinations we employ can either facilitate our efficiency or stamp out that creative spark.

Since perception is reality, let’s take a look at how the appearance of our working space impacts our professional outlook and consider some ways to attain the perfect balance of colors and lighting in order to create a productive workday that you can look forward to!

Colorful Creations

When selecting interior paint colors for the office, consider how the colors on the walls affect the people working within those confines.

Cool Colors:

  • GREEN: Not only is green the color of growth and natural life, it is also the easiest color on the eyes – literally! Due to the ease with which the retina perceives green in the color spectrum (it is the color that occupies the most space visible to the human eye), it is the perfect paint choice for those who are squinting at a computer screen or staring at small print for the majority of the workday.
  • BLUE: The most popular color choice across the board, blue is another great paint selection for office environments. It calms anxieties and nerves in a stressful workplace and some fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to an interview because it instills a sense of trust and conveys loyalty.

Cool colors are generally great options for walls and as the main color components of a room. On the other hand, warm colors like these below should be used more sparingly and are better suited as accent pieces in an office.

Warm Colors:

  • RED: It’s no secret how “loud” the color red can be. In fact, due to the emotionally-intense nature of the shade, red clothing should be avoided by those in negotiations or contractual discussions.
  • ORANGE: Another bold choice, orange has been known to stir up excitement and enthusiasm. This is a great paint choice for careers that require creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, like ad agencies and design firms. Just be sure to use it in moderation as it can be overwhelming.
  • YELLOW: Perhaps the most polarizing paint color, yellow can go either way. On the one hand, it is bright and optimistic and has been proven to enhance concentration (legal pads are yellow for a reason!). At the same time, that focused mental energy can quickly become a drain on your brain power and leads to eye strain and more frequent headaches.

Bright Ideas

But what good are all those cohesive color schemes if you can’t see them? For that, you need to address your office lighting.

Although you are likely to find many different types of lighting employed in a working environment, here are some ways to make it all work together:

  • Natural lighting: Keep windows as open and accessible as possible to allow maximum natural lighting into rooms.
  • Ambient lighting: Hidden sources of light that wash a room are perfect for creating “ambience.” Lower wattage bulbs and lights on a dimmer are good for restrooms or waiting rooms.
  • Accent lighting: Directional lighting (similar to a spotlight) or lighting that highlights a certain element in a room is a great way to add interest and depth to a space. Highlighting a piece of artwork in the entry is an example of accent lighting in an office.
  • Task lighting: This is supreme in an office setting. Lamps on a desk or worktable or beside a computer are essential to reduce eyestrain and ensure the task at hand is properly illuminated.

What are some of the ways you have seen color and lighting incorporated into an office environment that have enhanced productivity? Have you seen combos you would stay away from?

Jay Harris, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, is a regular contributor to the Home Depot website on painting and electrical projects. Jay’s interests include providing paint tips to homeowners, including how to choose the right interior paint colors and wood stains for your home.

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  • Ava Cristi

    Hi, Jay. This is what I’ve been suggesting to my colleagues. The color of your room affects your mood, which partly impacts on how you respond to certain situations. Warm colors are actually risky colors due to their assertive nature. How much they influence positive reactions is also how much they influence negative ones, so they can be a double-edge sword in such a manner. That said, green and blue colors are personally my preference :)

  • Mike Darche

    Jay- nice ideas, I’d love to hear some more! The atmosphere of our work setting totally makes a difference in our productivity and motivation to get things done. Lighting and colors are very important–I also think it helps to surround yourself with images or typography that can put you in the zone to accomplish your goals.

  • Jay Harris

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s so amazing how big of an influence it can have sometimes! I’ve done a couple other articles out on the web around color and lighting if you want more to read = )

  • Jay Harris


    Blues have always been my favorites too, especially more pastel shades. Glad you liked the read and hopefully this article can help your colleagues “see the light.” = )

  • Mike Darche

    Jay I’ll check those out for sure, do you have any recommendations?

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