According to color psychologists, color can have a pretty significant effect on the psyche, influencing everything from mood to physical wellbeing. But you don’t have to be a scientist to reap the psychological benefits of color. Armed with a little color know-how and a can of paint, you can easily transform a big, lonely nursery into a soothing sleep sanctuary. Just choose one of these calming nursery colors, and let science do its thing!
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Like a calm sea or cloudless sky, soft shades of blue tend to relax both mind and body, giving us a sense that all is right with the world. Exposure to the color blue has been known to lower blood pressure physically, heart rate and respiration, cooling the body and preparing it for sleep. Blue also decreases feelings of anxiety and aggression, making it a natural salve for nervous newborns and tantrum-prone toddlers.
That said, if creating a sleep-centered space is your goal, avoid dark blues. While light to medium shades promote sleep, deep, dramatic blues tend to have an energizing effect, keeping sleep at bay. Soft, calming colors like powder blue, aqua, or even light shades of turquoise are a much safer bet.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Green boasts all the nurturing power of Mother Nature, providing us with a deeply instinctual sense of security that we, too, will grow and thrive in its presence. Associated with health, healing, and well-being, green reduces anxiety, allowing for better concentration. Studies have even found that exposure to the color green may improve reading ability among children!
When choosing a shade for your nursery, you can opt for light to medium greens in earthy hues like sage and moss. However, darker greens can also be implemented, particularly if they are balanced with lighter neutrals.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Associated with wisdom and spirituality, purple combines the soothing properties of blue with the nurturing femininity of pink. Colors like lavender and lilac create a soft and serene atmosphere, but only in very pale shades. Choose too dark of a color, and your nursery may end up looking crass or gloomy.
To ensure a good pick, remember that purple will almost always appear darker than expected on the wall. Found a color you like? Opt instead for a hue that is at least one shade lighter than your original choice, and you’ll be happier with the results.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Much like the little angels who inhabit them, white nurseries are innocent and sweet, evoking feelings of serenity and peace. That said, white can also seem cold and institutional and may promote secretiveness.
To create a soothing, white haven, think shabby chic. Avoid harsh, blue whites and opt instead for creamier shades, like soft ivory and antique white. You can also add warmth by incorporating lots of rich, earthy textures, like wicker and wood. Adding colorful accents will encourage openness, but stick to soft and soothing colors that won’t over-stimulate your little one.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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To keep things looking cheery, avoid dark and stormy grays and opt instead for light, blue-grays. If you want to go a bit darker, pair with clean, white trim and pretty pastel accents, or even warm things up with wood accents.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Pink speaks of unconditional love and compassion, making it a fine fit for a baby’s room. It tends to inspire warm and comfortable feelings, which may help your little one relax. Studies have shown that pink has a calming effect on the human psyche and lessens aggressive behavior. To keep your kiddo calm and happy, opt for a pale, peachy shade or a dusty pastel and use sparingly, balancing the color with plenty of neutral space.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Neutral earth shades have a warm, grounding effect, and can be great for creating a cozy atmosphere. Neutrals are also easy on the eyes—literally. Earthy shades of beige and brown give baby’s developing peepers a much-needed rest from stimulating color and contrast, allowing your little dreamer to wind down and sleep.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Yellow is strongly associated with positivity and happiness, which makes perfect sense for your baby's nursery. Rather than choosing harsh, brighter tones like lemon or neon, go for a softer version like daffodil or dandelion. The warmth it provides creates a soothing atmosphere. Floral wallpaper with yellow as the backdrop can serve as a perfect introduction—not to mention giving it a vintage feel.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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If you are torn between choosing blue or green as your child's nursery color, teal is a perfect solution. Blue greens, like mint or seafoam, are also an excellent choice, combining the calming powers of both colors. With blue most notably associated with calm and green often credited with evoking peaceful feelings, teal is well-known to provide a sense of balance, which can be a much-needed reassurance for your little one.
As a bonus, teal can also serve as a gender-neutral hue that works well with other colors and styles, giving you plenty of work with in terms of decor and theme.
Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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An alternative to pink, peach can also serve as an ideal color choice for nurseries. Peach shades, especially when paired with neutrals or cool tones, create a serene environment that can brighten spirits without being too intense. Given its versatility, this color can also work for years as your child grows.
Still unsure about using a peach tone? Try working it in as an accent wall. Having one section dedicated to that shade can help you decide whether to commit fully—and balancing it with printed wallpaper can do wonders in adding to the serenity you're striving for.
Chris J. Boyatzis & Reenu Varghese. Children's Emotional Associations with Colors. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155:1, 77-85, 1994. DOI:10.1080/00221325.1994.9914760
Kurt S, Osueke KK. The Effects of Color on the Moods of College Students. SAGE Open. January 2014. doi:10.1177/2158244014525423
AL‐Ayash, Aseel & Kane, Robert & Smith, Dianne & Green‐Armytage, Paul. The influence of color on student emotion, heart rate, and performance in learning environments. Color Research & Application. 41. 2015. doi:10.1002/col.21949.
Green is Good For You. American Psychological Association.