I have learned a bit about color & aging over the past few months. I often don’t like to write about color psychology and how it affects our lives, because either you believe it or you don’t. What I do want to write about is that age does change our perceptions of colors, young or old.
Children are very concrete about their color choices. The Crayola culture ( is that a thing?) exemplifies the need for kids to have very strong, pigmented colors to express their perceptions of the world. Perhaps it’s because they see things with hope and intensity as they learn about the world. Hope and happiness rule. If they ask me for a yellow room, I better give them a true yellow, otherwise they are real mad at me.
As we approach adulthood, subtleties emerge, undertones and shades of gray. I think sometimes it’s because the sadness is starting to sink in. Sadness and sometimes helplessness regarding the state of the world, illness & death become constant companions. Clients in this age group are interested in colors that are soft, zen, natural- to soothe the pains of Life. Often this age group wants Beige ( the color of fear, as a wise man once told me). Beige is a safe place. The stress of committing to color is just too much during this time.I have spent hours debating beiges with customers. (btw, This is all very anecdotal data & quite possibly bullshit( as if you couldn’t tell) )
In the golden years, color is actually perceived differently physically as well as emotionally. As the eyes age, the world begins to have a yellow filter. Among my clients, bolder & brighter colors emerge again, but not so glaringly primary. Clients don’t seem to care what others think about their color choices. Yet they don’t want colors that scream at them, they want the colors of spring, hopeful, soft & bright.
I had the great fortune to pick colors (Devine Paint) for an adult home this week. It was fun to think about what color palette would be suitable for this environment. This home is run by a really great guy, who really cares about his residents so much that he researched the psychology of color & healing and wants the residents to be able to choose their own color for their room when they move in. If he cares about this detail, he surely must care deeply about his residents.
Joseph Spada of Spada Homes has been running adult homes for over 20yrs in Wedgwood, Seattle. Think of him if it’s time to find a lovely home for your aging loved one.