What is the best color for office walls?

Updated April 17, 2017

White walls can make an office too sterile, while black walls can scare your customers away. No matter what line of work you are in, the colour of your walls can help stimulate workers, relax customers and create an inviting space. Whether you work in a small, large or home office, you must choose the perfect colour to help your business succeed.

Colour and Mood

Consider carefully what mood you want to set in the office. According to Health Magazine, colours in our environment can have both an emotional and physiological response (References 1). Seeing vibrant red and violet wall colours actually stimulates adrenalin production in the body, increasing your energy and creativity levels. Pale blues have a calming effect, while yellows and greens make office inhabitants more cheerful. Black can set a tone of power and dominance.

Intensity of colours and colour combinations also have their own effects. While pale blue shades can create a soothing environment, bright blues are as stimulating as reds and violets. No matter what the individual colour elicits, contrasting colours can be jarring and agitating to visitors. Tiger Color recommends using analogous colours on the colour wheel to create a harmonious environment (Reference 2). This mimics the complementary shades found in nature.

Office Function

Choose a colour based on the function of your office. A doctor's office requires soothing colours to help calm nervous patients. Stimulate cubicle workers with bright reds, violets, and blues. Consider soft shades of yellow for a child psychologist's office, to help the children feel both relaxed and positive.

Look for deeper colours to help mask dirt and fingerprints in offices with a lot of traffic, particularly from attached warehouses, garages, or labs. Medical offices and food distributors should work with lighter colours to show a clean and fresh environment to customers.

Personal Preference

Select a colour that suits your personal taste. A bright red wall may stimulate work for some, and irritate others. Consider slightly different shades that will work for you--a deep burnt orange can also stimulate creativity, but creates a warmer space than a bright red. If pale blue is too cold or boring, try a sage green or light aqua to create a soothing but more interesting space. For offices with multiple workers, poll the staff for their own preferences. If the majority of your staff hates the new colour, they'll be less productive and may even be more likely to leave.


Work with your existing furniture and carpeting. Yellow walls may be cheerful, but they will clash terribly with mauve furniture. Pale birch desks can be livened up with deep red and orange wall colours. Sleek black furniture can complete a modern office with cool blues or vibrant reds. Hold colour swatches up to each element in the office to make sure it works with both the furniture, carpeting, and trim.

Room Size

Small offices can work with both light and dark colours, though too dark a shade can make the space too cave-like. Vibrant colours may be too much of a good thing in a large space; consider only doing one or two accent walls and balancing it with a more neutral shade. Pale pastels in a large office can wash the space out; try two walls of pale sage with two walls of pale green to add interest.

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About the Author

Valerie David has been a professional writer for over a decade, composing articles for,, IMDB, and her own TV news blog. She has also been published in fiction, with short romantic stories and a manga comic script. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with extensive background as a research librarian.