Classroom Design - NextGen Spaces - Color Psychology - color symbolism

Color Psychology for Education: How Does Orange Enhance the Learning Environment?

Written by Alicia Springer, M.Ed.

Did you know that colors impact thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in our daily lives? Let's take a minute to inventory the colors of clothes in your closet. Do you have an obvious preferred color palette? Hands down, mine is black and white. What about your home and office décor? What does your favorite color say about your personality?


Like yellow and red: orange is an attention grabber. It radiates warmth and happiness, combining the strength and power of red with the positivity of yellow. Often associated with outdoor elements such as fire, sun, and autumn leaves, orange is a surefire way to bring joy and energy to any space.



Colors for Learning: The impact of orange

In the past, schools were built to meet basic functional and financial requirements. Uninspiring colors like  beige, gray, and navy blue dominated most learning environments, and design was hardly a consideration. Today, modern educational institutions are more committed than ever to design spaces with purpose. Learning strategies, teaching strategies, color, layout, nature, and lighting among other things are all considered when designing spaces to improve teachers' and students' educational experiences through thoughtful aesthetic choices. 


Zesty oranges are guaranteed to make a statement and bring a sense of playfulness to any space. Imagine this same space with white walls.....Would it have the same impact on your mood?2

download button color psychology


orange is commonly associated with:


  • Happiness
  • Excitement
  • Enthusiasm
  • Playfulness
  • Vibrancy
  • Warmth


When making design choices for an educational setting, it is important to find a balance between over-simulation and lack of simulation.3 A neutral grey combined with a pop of orange is easy on the eyes.


use orange as a stimulant to:


  • Grab attention
  • Uplift
  • Rejuvenate
  • Boost confidence


Because research shows that orange has an impact on appetite, a café would be a great place for this lively hue. Combine comfy lounge seating units and sleek high-top areas for a modern-looking space that will become the new hang-out space for studying and collaborating. 


orange has the ability to:


  • Boost activity level 
  • Spark two-way communication
  • Stimulate appetite
  • Motivate


Whether you’re looking to create a fresh new scheme or to breathe new life into an existing space, there are many ways to use orange within educational environments to foster encouragement, motivation, and drive during rigorous times. 


Consider the seasons. Orange would be a perfect color for winter months when everything is wet and grey. Counteract seasonal depression by designing with bright and cheerful color combos. 


Exhilarate and energize any learning environment by pairing vibrant yellows and oranges.4 This citrusy combo is sure to uplift and provoke feelings of happiness. 



three tips for designing with orange in learning environments: 


    • Keep it subtle, to start: While monochromatic color schemes are trending, it might be best to start small. Adding a sunset orange chair to your classroom might be the right amount of color.
    • Be bold: Learning Hallways + Breakout Spaces are great places to be daring with paint and fabric selections.
    • Balance: Orange pairs well with many different colors from earthy tones to pastels to bold tones such as black, reef, and red. 

orange-classroom-layout >>> Download favorite (.cmfav) and insert this layout in your CET drawing.


rethinking learning environments for the future workbook download


  1. Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

  2. Pine Street Elementary School, photo by RobbinsPhotography
  3. Biltmore Preparatory Academy, photo by CDP Photography
  4. West MEC Southwest Campus, photo by CDP Photography
Aug 8, 2022

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