By Sarah Gershone, Owner of Strong Roots Web Design
Creating a look and feel for your therapy office that is welcoming and creates an environment where your clients feel safe and relaxed is no small task. One of the most powerful tools that you have, and also one of the most intimidating to tackle, is color.
As a web designer, I often help clients to decide on a color palette that can appear both on their digital home-base (their website), and in their actual office.
The consistency that this creates is about more than branding – it’s about having a cohesive feel between your digital presence in your client’s life, and what they experience when they come to your office.
But picking a color palette for your office can be more complicated than you might think!
Partly this is because you have to set aside your own preferences and focus on what effect your choices will have on your clients. But it’s also hard because colors are extremely subjective.
Despite all the articles that have been written regarding the message of one color versus another, the truth is that cultural norms and personal preferences vary widely.
“As research shows, it’s likely because personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, and context muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to evoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard palm reading.”
– Gregory Ciotti – The Psychology of Color in Branding
But, even with these challenges, there are a few core suggestions that I can make that will help you to sort through this confusion.
Tip #1: Keep it simple
You want to use colors to create a feeling of cohesiveness and wholeness. For this reason, more is often less!
In general, if you plan to pick one neutral color, one dark color, and two “personality” colors, you will really have all that you need.
This of course doesn’t mean that you can’t have other colors in your office or on your website – it just means that you will have four core colors that you consciously choose as a uniting element when you are picking out décor, furniture, and other items for your office.
Tip #2: Start with a Core Color
There’s a good chance that there is one color that you really want to include in your color scheme.
Maybe you have a central piece of furniture that sets the tone for your office, and so that color is going to be central as you move forward.
Or maybe you have a brand or logo color that you know you want to also use in your office. Or you might simply have a favorite color and want to be able to enjoy it while you are at work!
Whatever the reason, if you have or can identify one core color, then that is a great place to start.
Once you have that core color, you can work on finding colors that compliment it.
Tip #3: Use Online Tools
The great news is that there are some truly amazing online tools that can help you to discover the best combination of colors for your therapy office.
I’ll share my favorite two with you here…
Coolors is a free website that not only generates automatic color palette suggestions, but it provides free ways for you to identify colors that appear in pictures or images that you love.
Let’s say that there is a picture of a sunset that you love and plan to hang on the wall in your office. You can visit the Coolors website and upload that picture, then use their color picker tool (all free!) to identify the exact colors in that photo. You can then use that information to pick out coordinating paint or furniture colors.
My Color Space is another free tool that is an amazing resource!
You go to the website and provide the core color that you have picked out. The website will then generate a number of possible color palettes, all utilizing that one core color. You can pick one or mix and match from their suggestions!
Tip #4: Test before you Choose
It can be easy to fall in love with a set of colors, only to discover that, in real life, the colors don’t have quite the effect that you imagined.
Before you make a final decision on what colors you’ll be using, try to check to see if the colors will be as successful in real life as you thought they would be in the store or while looking at them on your computer screen!
This can mean bringing paint swatches or samples back to your office to try out, or ordering a small item in the color you’ve chosen to hold in your hands and see close up before you move ahead.
If you have an opportunity, it’s also a great idea to get feedback from others. Ask an expert, a trusted friend, or best of all – a client – about the colors you are choosing and the atmosphere they create.
Getting other opinions is great way to test out your decisions before you make them final!
So, while there may be no definitive answer to the question of what colors you “should” or “shouldn’t” use, there are many tools and techniques that you can take advantage of to make choosing colors a fun and successful experience!
About the Author
Sarah Gershone is a web designer who is passionate about helping therapists make a bigger impact on the world through beautiful websites and strategic design.
You can learn more about the services she offers on the Strong Roots Web Design site.