Color preferences for four different types of spaces

Theo van der Voordt, Iris Bakker, Jan de Boon
  • Facilities, March 2017, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/f-06-2015-0043

Colour preferences in different spaces

What is it about?

Responses to questions such as: what is your favourite colour in general? And what is your favourite colour for your office, meeting room, living room and bedroom?

Why is it important?

Studies on color preferences for different types of spaces are scarce and show ambiguous results. This paper aims to present data about preferred colors for two work environments: the office and a meeting room, and two residential spaces: the living room and the bedroom. The authors also explore whether people with different personal characteristics of gender, age, education and type of person have different color preferences. Information about color preferences for different types of spaces can support clients, end users and (interior) architects to create environments that people like, which may influence peoples’ well-being in a positive way. It is suggested to apply colors in the built environment more like nature shows.


Dr. Theo van der Voordt
Technische Universiteit Delft

The frequently marked preference for white and the second-ranked “no preference” does not mean that color is not relevant. Color has a profound impact on the atmosphere of a space. However, the huge diversity in preferred colors and the many influencing factors on preferred colors for each type of space, such as personal characteristics, type of person, habit, learned associations, culture and context, make it rather difficult to develop guidelines for color applications in the built environment to fit with individual preferences. Besides, a preference for a particular color does not mean that the whole space should be painted in that particular color. In private spaces, people can make their own choices. In semi-private places, such as work environments, leisure facilities, healthcare facilities or educational facilities, spaces are shared by many different people. Probably white and other light colors are most safe to apply, in combination with additional colors that do not dominate too much. Maybe we should try to learn more from nature. Every day nature shows sparkling and sensational but harmonious color combinations. It is widely acknowledged that nature positively influences human health. Finding inspiration in nature as a well-balanced tutor might be helpful in creating more pleasant and harmonious colorful environments.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Theo van der Voordt