A lesson in color - 'receding' and 'moving towards' colors

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team

Did you know that colors can actually make a room look larger or smaller?  No, I don't mean just light and dark colors.  Sure a dark color can make a room smaller but did you know that a warm color can also make the room feel smaller?  A cool color makes a room look larger too.... Check this out....


Do you notice how the walls seem to fall back away from you?  If you don't see it, look closer.... feel the walls, if you will.  While many people consider blue to be a 'warm' color because they think it is restful and cozy the fact is that the color is techincally cool.  By definition a cool color has more 'blue' in it....   Cool colors recede, or move away from the eye. 


Ok, now what do you notice about this room?  The brown walls envelope the room.  It is not just because it is a dark color.  It is because the color is warm.  Warm colors tend to draw the eye in, making the walls feel closer.  Warm colors, colors with more 'yellow' in them are moving foward colors.


Ok, so what does all this mean?  Why is it important to know about receding and moving foward colors?  What if you have a really big room that feels cold and unwelcoming?  What if you have a really small room and need it to feel larger?  Use your color knowledge to work for you!

Paint a large room a warm tone and it will get visually smaller.  It doesn't have to be dark, just warm.... The room will envelope you.

Paint a small room a cool color.  The walls will visually move away from you, making the room feel larger....

Now, go have fun with color!!

(*photos are from bhg.com)

Posted by


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comments (25)

Dan Woodworth
The Connection - Garden City, ID
Encouraging Communicator

Hi Melissa,

You made a Perceptive Post!

Color is Captivating!

As you know, my wife is a Color Expert. 

What you write in your post is absolutely true!

Color creates the atmosphere!

May 09, 2008 11:20 AM
Tanya Venable
Orlando, FL
SEO, Mobile SEO, and Internet Marketing Consultant

Melissa, Thanks for sharing!  You can see the difference in the pictures, it really helps. I love blue!

May 10, 2008 01:31 AM
Karen Dembsky
Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA - Peachtree City, GA
Atlanta Home Staging

thanks for the colorific mini course.  Loved it!

May 10, 2008 07:07 AM
Michelle Hall
Century 21 Hecht - Denver, NC

Wow, thank you for the info.  That really puts it into perspective for me.  I never really noticed how the cool hues pull away. 

May 10, 2008 09:56 AM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

I just painted a small but not tiny bathroom that was a goldy yellow, a new shade of a grayed light green. Huge difference in perception of size and of course a total change in the style.

May 10, 2008 03:31 PM
Shobha Vyavahare
stagewithme, Greenville, South Carolina - Greenville, SC

you are always a great source of information.  and yor pictures say it all, great thought to keep in mind when staging.


May 11, 2008 01:29 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

It's fun when you know how things work, isn't it?  Just another edge and tool of the trade to pull out...

May 12, 2008 12:39 PM
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

Hi Melissa-

How do you feel about the technique of painting the powder bath a dark color on walls,ceiling, and baseboards-thus really creating a "cave" look? One of the builders around here really pushed that technique with some dark metallic colors & it feels very unsettling to me.  Maybe I am borderline claustrophobic or something. Just wondering your opinion...


May 13, 2008 10:08 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

I love the photos you chose to illustrate your point.  Thanks for the lesson!

May 14, 2008 12:00 PM
Irene Woodworth
Color and Redesign Academy & Redesign Boise - Garden City, ID
Color-Redesign-Staging, Trainer & Motivational Speaker - Idaho


Ah color, one of my favorite subjects.  Yes, some colors do recede and some advance.  You also need to keep in mind the purpose of the room as you select your colors and how people respond to color.  Some people are a little claustrophobic, so that is also another consideration.  The impact and importance of color is absolutely amazing!  Wonderful pictures to demonstrate your point, too!

Have a Colorful Day!

Jul 13, 2008 09:52 AM
Kimo Stowell
HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 - Honolulu, HI
REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i

Aloha Melissa,

Great topic concerning color. I also like to use warm colors to envelope narrow spaces like hallways and half baths and cooler colors in rooms that open to the out of doors.


Jul 13, 2008 02:53 PM
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

Vern Yip spoke of this very thing last week, and said that painting a small room a dark will not make the room appear smaller, that was a falicy, HE also said NEVER use fake fruit when staging and never use greenery above kitchen cabinets.. HEY RULES are meant to broken. Real apples ROT when staging a vacant house, LOL

Phyllis Pafumi

Nov 05, 2008 02:09 PM
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

I just painted 2 short adjoining walls in my own livingroom a rusty red. That leaves a long wall of a golden yellow, a short walls of windows and a 1/2 of the red wall in fireplace. It does seem smaller but much cozier. The very large wall unit (TV) is an antique in light wood and really stands out now, against the red.

Dec 07, 2008 11:11 AM
j r
International, IT

That is a great Blog ! It is not easy telling people what colours can do ,you explained it in a very simple way so every one can understand it ,what an inspiration

Thanks for sharing

Jan 07, 2009 02:07 AM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Melissa, your wisdom goes in all directions. Thanks for the little lesson in color. 

Jan 07, 2009 04:46 PM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Great post, as always.  Had to laugh at the second picture-in college my roommates and I ALMOST painted one bedroom chocolate brown with white trim because we read that dark colors make the walls recede.  Maybe it was the same designer that Juliet mentioned-LOL!

Apr 09, 2009 02:43 PM
Wendy Tomm
Beyond the Walls - East St Paul, MB
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors
Great post and so true.
Sep 20, 2011 03:10 AM
Donna MacBrayne
Long & Foster Real Estate - Ellicott City, MD

Thank you (personally and professionally), Melissa for your professional advice on color.

In my real estate business here, in Ellicott City Maryland (a suburb) of Baltimore, my business partner and I make many recommendations every year to sellers that need to neutralize the color in their homes. Despite everything you explained about color, it's still a very personal thing. And, sometimes there's just way too much of it.

A few years ago we "discovered" a color that one of our sellers had chosen on their own. It's called Tuscan Beige by Baer Paints. It's so classic and neutral and, if your walls have any sort of chair or crown moldings, and you paint those white, the result is stunning!

I'll be looking for more color and design ideas from you soon!

Sep 20, 2011 03:33 AM
Wendy Tomm
Beyond the Walls - East St Paul, MB
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors
Great photos and I totally understand what you are showing.
May 04, 2012 01:36 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

The decoration of a place we live tell who you are. It is an honest reflection of a homeowner.But often, we know what we like, but do not know how to express it.

Bringing bright accessories is a great way to bring life to otherwise boring rooms.

Nov 02, 2015 07:54 AM