Do Red, White, and Blue Have a Place in Healthcare Design?

By Kurt Johnson Photography • June 28, 2024

We all know the iconic pull of red, white, and blue, but did you know there’s some support for using these colors when it comes to healing design?

Together, red, white, and blue evoke a sense of national pride, which might be comforting at a veterans’ hospital, but in some enverinoments the colors could be more distracting than soothing.

It’s important to consider the type of facility the artwork will be used for and the population it serves. So let’s look at each of these colors to determine if one or all might be the right color for your facility.


Red isn’t a common color for healthcare environments, but it’s powerful when used in the right space.

It’s good for older eyes, which gain a naturally yellow tint as we age.  The contrast makes it easier to see the subject matter.

Red is also recommended for patients with dementia, who benefit from the brain stimulus it provides.


Blue is one of the most requested colors when it comes to healing environments, which makes sense since it’s the color most associated with relaxation. 

Research suggests calm, slow-moving water images promote restoration(Ulrich, Gilpin, 2003).

And knowing that blue is also the most popular color in surveys – you can’t go wrong with images featuring blue skies, waterscapes, and blue plants.


White is another color whose purity represents new beginnings, which is a powerful symbol when it comes to healing.

Too much white can make a healthcare facility feel cold and uninviting, but when white is used in combination with another color or colors it can have a striking impact.

So while you might think of red, white, and blue only when it comes to patriotism and politics, there are definitely certain environments that can benefit from the notable shades of “Old Glory.”

Some suggestions for using red, white, and blue together include using the colors sparingly. 

In the project above, the designer used red, the healthcare system’s brand color, sprinkled in the furniture and fabrics throughout the facility, keeping the nature imagery black and white, allowing the imagery to support and enhance the overall design theme rather than compete with it.

By using a bold color like red sparingly you avoid overstimulation in environments meant for recovery and relaxation.

Softening the color palette is another way to make a color combination like red, white, and blue work in healthcare.

Avoiding bright, primary shades and opting for soother tones creates a more calming environment.  Incorporating other colors like green and neutrals helps balance a palette that can be overwhelming.

Red, white, and blue nature imagery can be used effectively in hospitals and other healing environments when it’s done with intention.

Also combining the right colors with the right types of imagery, like slow-moving water, verdant plants, and open landscapes according to manmy studies, lead to healing.

So don’t limit your design when it comes to healthcare, just make sure the nature images you choose are backed by the principles of biophilic research, so the healing can begin the moment patients and staff walk through the door.

Categories: Color

Sign up for our newsletter today!

Get a preview of Kurt’s newest images, his behind-the-scenes shenanigans, and the stories behind the installations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.