No matter what room you decided to turn into a makeshift office this past year, a new study shows changing the color of the space can greatly impact your workflow—and your mood. Whether you need a boost of creative energy or a setting to focus, these options will yield positive results, according to manufacturing company Stelrad and psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers.

If You Want to Improve Work Output

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Of the 4,325 people surveyed on their existing home office palette, only 6 percent currently have their spaces painted blue or red. But the research indicates blue “promotes calm concentration and emotional balance that keeps you in a state of flow.” On the other hand, overusing the shade can also blunt activity by being too relaxing, so mix in some neutrals.

A red office space is far less popular, coming in at 1 percent. Red can be distracting, it’s true, but the report says the color is akin to an “energy bar” for physical jobs like woodworking and fitness training. So if your workspace is really the garage workbench, this hue could be the cure for that 2 p.m. lull. 

If You Want to Amp Up Your Creativity

Staid picks like white, gray, and cream top the list, but the one to watch is yellow. The study claims it increases information retention, which is good for anyone starting a new job during the pandemic, when you’re having to learn the ropes remotely. However, because it’s so vivid, yellow can eventually cause eye fatigue, so it could be best incorporated through a piece of art or desk accessories.

If You Need to De-Stress

Fun fact: Humans can identify more shades of green than anything else. Skip the paint cans for this one, though, and just surround the desk with plants at eye level. The natural tone is calming and helps you develop longer-term focus and attention. At the very least, you can always water your new colleagues instead of making a fourth cup of coffee.

If You Want to Host Happier Zoom Meetings

Being head down all day, working independently, can be tough on the brain. A welcoming, cheerful pink or peach backdrop will remind colleagues what a fun person you are. Either shade is optimal, but a deeper hue can feel especially indulgent and inviting.