Should You Paint the Office Walls Gray & Beige?

An accent wall in a gray office

You work in a corporate office, you have a desk in a workstation, maybe you have your own office. Nice job but must you leave your sense of style at home? Do your office walls have to be dull, boring and uninspiring?

Having done a lot of commercial painting in Toronto, we witnessed a lot of gray and beige in office environments. In fact our painters have contributed to this bland wasteland, passing as “decor” (guilty as charged).

The Role of Neutral Colours in the Office

There is a common belief that off-white and gray is the default colour choice for the office. Facility manager know these neutrals as economical choices as they are easy to choose, paint and maintain. This may resonate well with accountants and bookkeepers, but seriously, who put them in charge of the decorating decisions?

Painting the office walls with neutral colours goes beyond minding the dollars and cents. We live a hectic digital lifestyle, full of immediate demands and responsibilities. Technology is changing rapidly and is engaging our senses every minute of the day. Even communication itself is intermingled with visual stimulation.

To be more effective in the office, we need the ability to focus and concentrate. By turning down visual distractions we can reduce eyestrain and increase our ability to focus. Painting the walls around us in soft neutral tones, we create a calm and safe environment. Grays and beiges have this exact calming (numbing) effect, shielding us from visual and emotional stimuli.

But seriously, it does not have to be all gray and beige. These colours stifle fun and creativity and don’t do much for employee morale. There is nothing worse than coming to work in an overcast winter day and be exposed to more of the same for eight more hours.

Go Ahead Paint that Bright Colour. It will be fine

Use colour with gray and beige

While first hand experience is never science, there is enough research to support the positive influence of decorating office space with colour. In our own experience, vibrant colours create a sense of excitement and anticipation. We even hear playful comments about painting the hallways pink or the president’s office purple!

Even though neutrals and off whites are the dominant colours, we can use bright colours in moderation as accent colours. Accent colours create interest and stimulation.

Tips for Decorating the Office with Vibrant Colours

  • Corporate and logo colours are too strong and they should never leave the reception wall. The same applies for lighter monochromatic variations of the company colours. These are not good colours to used in the work area. Branding is for customers.
  • Instead of using gray or beige as the dominant colour, why not use a bright white. A popular choice is Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace OC-65. Chantilly Lace is a clean and crisp white and we have been using it a lot recently. Clean off whites can work like canvas for vibrant colours used in moderation. Try using strong colours on architectural elements such as bulkheads and columns. Sometimes a small amount of colour can go a long way.
  • Paint an accent colour on a small wall of a narrow room. This technique will “pull” the wall closer to you and create balance.
  • Meeting rooms and lunchrooms are great places to introduce some colour. Workers spend limited time in these rooms, so a change of scenery will be welcome.
  • Try experimenting with a fun colour or two. Accents don’t have to be charcoal or burgundy. Reds, Oranges and lime greens are fun and playful colours. What about a spa blue?
  • If you need a more cautious colour scheme you can never go wrong with lighter shades of green or blue. These colours are easier for the eye to accept and can still be interesting. They are also restful and calming colours that can help with a stressful work environment.

The colour possibilities are endless. We spend a big part of our lives at work, why not make our work space more interesting. Decorating the office is a great investment in your business and the people working in it.

Your painting contractor should be able to bring you colour swatches and assist with picking colour. In fact, why not ask your office team for input. After narrowing your choice, Ecopainting can paint some custom swatches on your walls to help you decide.

Last blog update March 5th 2017.

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