Yet an office that goes in the complete opposite direction -- too white -- can have an even worse effect on one's mood."The walls in open floor plan offices are often painted white to maximize the feeling of space, but sometimes it turns the environment sterile under fluorescent lighting," said Erika Woelfel, Director of Color Marketing for BEHR, via email.In the center was the palace of Hades, the king of the underworld, where he was seated upon a black ebony throne.

Ater has vanished from the vocabulary, but niger was the source of the country name Nigeria the English word Negro and the word for "black" in most modern Romance languages (French: noir; Spanish and Portuguese: negro; Italian: nero ).

Old High German also had two words for black: swartz for dull black and blach for a luminous black.

For the ancient Egyptians, black had positive associations; being the color of fertility and the rich black soil flooded by the Nile.

It was the color of Anubis, the god of the underworld, who took the form of a black jackal, and offered protection against evil to the dead.

There's another benefit to being surrounded by soft neutrals: Less eyestrain.

"For work spaces, neutrals and softer, more grayed hues are better for concentration and preventing eye fatigue," says Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams, via email.

More distant cognates include Latin flagrare ("to blaze, glow, burn"), and Ancient Greek phlegein ("to burn, scorch").

The Ancient Greeks sometimes used the same word to name different colors, if they had the same intensity. The Ancient Romans had two words for black: ater was a flat, dull black, while niger was a brilliant, saturated black.

Primarily because of their hectic and high energy lifestyles, we see an emphasis towards neutral spaces," says Melanie Conant, NCIDQ and Director of Interior Design for The Architectural Team, a Boston, Massachusetts design firm that counts many corporate offices among its clients, via email.

She also adds that brighter colors are used as an accent to add interest to a space, while taupes, tonal whites and warm grays are popular choices for office design at the moment.

Even if you're not in an open floor plan, an all-white environment can still have that "sterile" vibe.