Tag Archives: color weight

Is Your Room Upside-Down?

You want your home to be as comfortable as possible.  If the colors in your room are upside-down, your room will never feel as comfortable as it could be.  So which colors should go on your walls, and which colors should go on your floor or ceiling?

 Do Colors Have a Weight?

British psychologist Edward Bullough was lecturing at Cambridge University in 1907, when he published “The Apparent Heaviness of Colours” in the British Journal of Psychology in 1907.  Bullough’s paper was based on research where he tested people’s perceptions on color.

In one experiment, Bullough had people paint a wall.  They were given red paint and pink paint; and they were told to paint the top half one color and the bottom half the other color.  Nearly everyone chose to paint the bottom red, and the top pink.  The conclusion was that people feel more comfortable with the darker color on the bottom.  The darker color seems “heavier”.  With the darker color on top, the wall appears to be top heavy.  People don’t like it.

In another experiment, Bullough showed objects painted in different colors.  The objects were exactly the same, except for the color.  Using visual observation only, Bullough’s subjects where then asked to identify which object seemed to be heavier.

The results?  Darker colors are perceived as being heavier than lighter colors.  In addition, red is perceived as being heavier than yellow even when the colors have the same saturation level.  Some colors appear heavier, and others lighter.

Red-Yellow-Squares

The red and yellow have the same saturation, but the red square appears heavier than the yellow square.

What Does This Mean For Your Room?

Keep your heavier colors lower.  Putting heavier colors on top will make your room feel like it is “upside-down”.  It will feel uncomfortable.

Some public spaces are designed that way deliberately to discourage loitering.  But that’s not what you want for your home.  Most businesses should avoid upside-down colors as well.

So which colors are heavier?  Darker colors feel heavier than lighter colors.  Blue and red are heavier than green.  Green is heavier than yellow.  Blacks and browns feel heavy, while white and beige feels lighter.  If you follow these guidelines, you will get better results.