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Why are we so afraid of Colour?

By 02/17/2010January 23rd, 201776 Comments

In a consultation a little while ago I walked into a beautiful white, modern kitchen and everything was still. . . white.

That’s right – no accent colour at all.  My client said she didn’t want to commit to a colour because she wasn’t sure which one was the right one.

When I’m on the phone with potential clients booking our consultation and I ask which colours they are currently decorating with or what their favourite colours are and they are reluctant to say.

I find there is a phenomenon that goes on when one is talking to the designer. . . I have a theory about it and I also want yours.


Here’s mine:

1.  If you are talking to a designer it’s probably because you’re either tired of the look you have now, you need help with your renovation/colours or you’re craving something new and different (which is why you are calling me, makes sense right?).

2. When I arrive at a client’s home to choose colours, rarely do they show me what they have been considering first. They want to see what I’ll come up with instead. It’s like we’re playing poker, and no one wants to show their hand.
Well except me of course, because that’s what you’re paying me for 🙂


So you don’t want to tell me in case that narrows my suggestions down too much. It’s common that a client will say “I’m open”, but then when I say, “Okay are you a red & purple person? Blue or Green, Yellow or Orange” (that’s the colour wheel, keep it simple) then I get a little further.

It’s probably a little bit of this quote from one of my lovely clients in an on-line consultation last week “I’m not afraid of colour but I’m very afraid of the wrong colour”.


So that’s my theory but here’s my question.  Do you see yourself in any of my above theories about colour commitment or do you have another point of view?

Please post a comment with your opinion, it’s very important!

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

How to choose Ceiling colours, Do’s & Don’ts

How to Know if the Tile you have Selected has the Right Undertones

The Colour of  Wood vs. Wall Colour; How Important is it Really?

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  • Ashley says:

    I just found your blog last week, and I love it! You are amazing. 🙂

    As for the color question, I have always been a fan of color – but I've found my color choices have become slightly more muted over time.

    In college I was all about the warm, bright colors – pinks and yellows especially. Now, I'm all about the cool colors with a touch of gray added to them – greens and blues especially.

  • Karena says:

    I adore the last image those colors are yummy and very elegant! I see a pale mauve violet/ raspberry

  • RLG says:

    I love color. I'm also afraid of making mistakes. I've painted several rooms in my house repeatedly (and in vain) trying to get it right. I hate it when people say paint is cheap, b/c if you're paying a professional to get the best result, it's really expensive.

    I've really just given up and am currently looking to paint all of the common rooms in the house the same color. Three kids and lost of chaos has me craving a color that is decompressing and calm. I'm over color for the sake of it. I read your posts with the intent of getting it "right" the next time my painter comes, and that means asking myself some hard questions and being honest.

    For the record, I cannot imagine wasting your time playing poker! xoxo

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    My son gave me a quiz out of a book yesterday and asked what my favorite color was. I couldn't pick just one because I like so many different colors.
    Maybe the clients think if they say blue that every room will be some shade of blue and then they'll get tired of blue.

  • Erika @ BluLabel Bungalow says:

    I think clients want to know your opinion first because they think you may be able to "read" them…sort of like a color astrologist. Yes, I just made that up. They recognize you as the expert and realize you can come up with something they never would've imagined.

    I had a client that detested yellow. She thought it would make her space appear country, but when I showed her the various shades of yellow and how to pair it with neutrals she changed her mind completely. We ended up using mustard, teal, and ivory in her guest room

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, Maria, you nailed it! I'm afraid to show my hand because it has happened that my options were automatically narrowed to those I gave the professional. I want to know how you, the professional, view my project, what you would do w/it were your project. If I knew the professional wouldn't take my ideas and stop there, then I'd be more open about how I see it. In the end I want options so I can choose the best one.

    This is a GREAT question!

  • Vanessa says:

    So true about the poker hand! I find clients are usually in one of two camps – they love colour and want it everywhere or they go for the beiges/tauples/tans etc because of fear of choosing the wrong colour. For those who love colour, I'm usually having them tone down their choices from say, the acidy, bright crayola yellow. For the "beige people", I have to push them out of their comfort zone to maybe a green or blue – muted, greyed down, not dark, just a hint of the colour and they love it! Not sure if I answered your question.

  • Vanessa says:

    Sorry – typed too fast – that should say taupe.

  • Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says:

    Yes to all of your theories. Sometimes we distrust ourselves so much that we think that if we are leaning in a specific directly, well certainly there's something we're missing. And if we tell you which way we're leaning, you won't tell us what we must obviously be missing (that's the fear anyway). And I agree with your client entirely … not afraid of color, just afraid of the wrong color.

  • Acanthus and Acorn says:

    I have stuggled with color in my kitchen! I do like color, but I also enjoy the freshness of white/cream in a highly lived in and used space. I also have detailed crown moldings, several entrances into the room, and columns. So there is a fear…of work!

    The colors I am drawn to in my personal decorating tend to be in more muted, soothing shades of creams, tans, browns, grays, blues, aquas. Maybe because I look at color a lot. But, I jump at the chance to work on something colorful. There is a lot of joy with this type of client.

    I did recently buy some really colorful, exquisite books, so I know there is no fear per se!

  • Adventures in Dressmaking says:

    I love color!! I also like whites, but in a white room I would really really want to add colored accents. I'm really into bright, cheerful colors right now but that will probably change next year or the year after. I'm a DIY-er so I'm not afraid to commit to a color because I know I can just change it in a while!

  • elisabeth (bovagoods) says:

    love those two wooden chairs in your first picture. there are two identical chairs at a local antique mall here. they are asking $1200 for the pair. oh, if only i had $1200!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I think you are on the right track, Maria. I think there may be another element in some cases. Fear. If I am paying you to guide me with color choices, then I may not be confident in my own ability to make these choices sans expert. Since you are the pro, I might feel rejected if I reveal my top choices and you dismiss them or otherwise down-play them immediately. Not saying you would, just saying perhaps some clients have a fear of rejection, a common human trait.

    So by not revealing their cards, in essence, they haven't lost yet.

    Regardless of whether a client wants true, objective new ideas or wants their ideas tweaked or affirmed, I think this game of cat and mouse is fascinating. If I were a colorist, decorator, or designer and a client wouldn't come right out and tell me what they're thinking, then I would probably say something like, "There are a number of ways you could go with this, but I need to ask you some questions first…." Or play the speculation game. "If you want ___ then I might look into doing ___. On the other hand, if you're more into ___ then this might be a good option.

    I can see that until the client opens up, it'd be difficult for the collaboration and education process to proceed.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am afraid of choosing a color that is totally wrong, because it changes so much from my sample to the whole room. I'm afraid of making a really loud mistake!

    I am right now in the process of painting my whole house, after living in it for so long with awful walls and colors. I'm embarrassed to say how long. I have never known what colors I would use, and after making a horrible choice for one bathroom I gave up. (I painted it what I thought was "beige" and it is actually yellow….. my fixtures are greeny AND pinky beige…..)

    Reading your blog has helped me decide what to do and what colors to use, but I am still very, very afraid that I'm making huge mistakes! BUT I'm not using beige!

  • seanymph says:

    I think that if I hired a professional, first Id want her to look at my room and tell me what she sees. After all, we live here and have gotten used to whats around us. So its hard to make a decision to change. Sometimes someone else's eyes see something I never did. But then if I didnt like the ideas I would most likely start saying what I thought Id like. Its hard to commit to color when your afraid to make a mistake.

    If you have to hire people to do it, you want to be sure its right before you start. Especially in todays economy…..folks dont have alot of extra cash to toss around. Right now Im contemplating new paint in my kitchen but I havent a clue. Its a bright yellow and I absolutely hate this color and yellow in general so it has to go. But I love blue and white porcelains and have many things like that. I often use blue and white as my neutrals, then add touches of color.

    But Im at a loss with this kitchen because it has wood cabinets and high ceilings. I keep seeing dark blue or even a nice purple but am too scared to do it. Ill have to hire someone to do it cuz its too high for me to reach…..and so I sit with the ugly yellow….pondering.

  • Nichole says:

    I feel like I wouldn't do any of those things if I were to hire a designer. I feel I would probably offer so much information, that they would be like "Holy Cow!". But I have never hired a designer before. So maybe when I actually do, I will become intimidated and do one of the things you said. What an interesting question!

  • Samantha says:

    I love color. That is most likely because my apartment has NO color.(I'm really sick of white now.) When I move out of here I plain on having walls with red and shimmery gold. Of course I'm not going to paint all 4 walls red. I'm gona do one side red and tone it down a bit with another color. And the shimmery gold is going on one wall, like the red, with a color to tone it down on the other walls, in a room with a window or lighting that will really set it off. : D (of course I need to study lighting and color a little more before I can pull that off effectively.) But I DO NOT want one tinny little speck of pure white ANYWHERE at ALL.

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    I love color and I can ALWAYS make suggestions to OTHER people for advice. But when it comes to my own home I cant make a decision to save my life. I SEE so much and LOVE every scenario. ANd I know that when I commit another new theme or combo will come out that I love even more. Maybe I should just get two or three houses!

  • Marie Brady says:

    Yes!! It is such a curious dance we do with our clients sometimes! Often they know what they don't like more than they do like. Sometimes they want me to push the envelope with them and make them think outside their comfort zone. But I wish they would more often simply just tell me what looks and feels GOOD to them and then allow me to help them "tweak" that concept so it's useful for their particular situation. They are often afraid of their opinions and that's what I want to hear most of. I love when they have collected pictures from magazines that inspire them. It's a thrill when that creative collaboration results in a space that they feel reflects their wildest hopes and visions for color design.

  • Marlo says:

    Years ago I probably wouldn’t tell a colour consultant what I was thinking because I had heard that if we do it will limit their creativity. By not telling them what we like, it’s supposed to give them free rein – a blank canvas – to be creative. Today I know better and will tell them what colours I like & don’t like.

    One colour consultant asked me right off the bat if I wanted colour on the walls or if I wanted the walls neutral and add colour through accessories. I knew which colours I didn’t want, and let her know, but wasn’t sure which ones I wanted so I let her recommend some colours and I picked from those.

  • Annie @ The House That Jade Built says:

    I am a huge lover of color. I strongly believe that if you paint your walls a strong color you adore, that you can easily pull it off. I really like to mix a lot of bold colors, but even with all of that – it comes out with some spunk, but it's always cozy & invitings. I have no fear of color – but I fear white. However, layers of white is quite beautiful too 🙂

    My biggest tip to friends – I get those brochure in the paint store that have a theme of colors & rooms painted & decorated in those themes. Then I see what I'm most drawn too & I pick a color based on that guide. For example the guides I had were Worldy, Cool & Collected, Sunny etc – that's how I picked my paint. I loved the Worldly brochure & couldn't envision my home without that boldness – and it's perfect for me 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I believe you are right. As a homeowner/graphic designer/marketing coordinator hiring a interior designer to gives me a different perspective of the potential for color that I myself may not have thought about. So yes I probably wouldn't show you my cards right away but that does not mean I won't show them to you later.

    In my own home I love color. Each room has a different color/feel. I personally choose wall colors based on the way I want my house to feel (to my family, friends and guests). But that is me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why are we afraid of color? Fascinating question! I am a huge fan of interior design; I read magazines, follow blogs (like yours!) for inspiration. The question I have is why are so many designers seemingly afraid of color. SO many of the rooms I see featured are white; white-on-white! That's one of the reasons I like your blog, you talk about COLOR!

    In defense of those "poker face" clients? I frequently work with graphic designers and after years of experience, I now am one of those poker players. If I say too much up front, too often I get ONLY what I asked for. If I want really creative thinking, I don't put too many parameters out there.

  • Mélanie says:

    I have always been a fan of color , for me neutral is not really decoration but it is true that you have to fin and to mix the right ones and to be sure you need a designer

  • pve design says:

    I wonder if McDonalds hired a color consultant? I love color, but I also love when the palette has been carefully chosen. I cringe when I walk into a space and it is on color overload. I think most people are sensitive to wanting the "right" color but do not know where to begin!

  • mydivabydesign says:

    I love color, but I have also found that many people are afraid to use it in their homes because they don't know what to choose. I ask them to tell me what color they find themselves buying for their clothes and go from there. You don't have to use that color all over, or at all. But it helps get started adding color.

  • Marija says:

    Your theory of the clients fear of being pigeon-holed into a color is what I've encountered over and over. And I'll add to it – they are worried that they don't know what's "in style" or "current". I think people don't want to be judged. I had one client tell me that she didn't like blue and brown – though it was ultimately what she chose and really wanted – because she was afraid I would think it was passe.

    PVE – I heard a long time ago that red increases your appetite and yellow makes you feel youthful. Something tells me McDonald's heard the same thing!


  • Anonymous says:

    I would love to be able to hire a designer, but I don't think I would start the session off with "here are the colors I like", but rather "this is how I want to feel when I walk into this room". If I've hired them, it's because they've established themselves as an expert and will be good at reading the other elements in the room and creating the mood/emotions that I'm looking for.

    My analogy would be going to the hairdresser. When I sit down in the chair and they ask me what I want, I end up with a very nice cut in the style that I asked for. But if I want to look amazing, I go to a high end stylist who can look at me and say "with your hair type and your shape of face, this is what we should do". They are an expert and they look at the elements they have to work with and can create an amazing look. Likewise, if I'm hiring a designer, I want my room to look amazing, not just a cleaned up version of what I had before.

  • Cheri says:

    I agree with your client–not afraid of color, but afraid of the wrong color. Every time I decide to strike out and choose a color, or make a decision, it always seems to end up not quite right.

    I know what I like when I see it but have a hard time translating that to my own home. Working with a couple of consultants has been great, but I don't feel like I've hit the perfect chord with anyone yet…in part because we don't have the budget to get rid of some of the constraints that really limit what I'd like to do. However, it has certainly helped!

  • Erica at Decorica says:

    I like to ask clients which color(s) they do not like. I can usually get one or two out of them that way.

    I think that people might be afraid to say which colors they like because they are worried that what they like might not be what's "in." Also, like many have said in their comments, people like a lot of different colors for different purposes. So that's why I start with which colors they don't like.

  • Anonymous says:

    I just found your site and I love your comments. I have been trying for years to find that perfect kitchen table that will go with my kitchen. Nothing seems to go right. I have just gotten new appliances and granite countertops but I still have the same oak cabinets. Then I came across your article about the white kitchen cabinets! I think that's it!! I need to paint these. Then I can surely find a table that will go with everything. It is kind of scarey though to paint them as the wood is still pretty. To get them to look smooth and like new, should I hire a professional cabinet painter? Thanks!

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    A combination of both . . I like the hairdresser analogy. I have asked for a certain cut but then hated it because it was wrong for me. I've also gotten some bad cuts from the stylists' suggestions . . . anyway . . . I would definately say what my favorite colours are it also helps that you know what colours go with the 'feeling' I want. You also know me very well and the old fashioned kitschy look is the only way to go with me and that's what you've done for me. Yes, I think they don't tell you what they like because first, what if what they like is out of 'fashion' and totally wrong? Or they don't say anything because they want to know exactly what you would do because you are the expert and that's why they hired you…. Rambling response today! xo

  • Grace says:

    For me it comes down to not wanting to make a mistake with colours because it costs too much (and is too much work) to repaint a room or have a sofa recovered.

    I also would hate to choose a colour just when it is going out of style. I mean what if you were the last person to buy an avocado green fridge and stove set and then had to live with a dated kitchen for the next 20 years. I guess that also comes down to money, because if funds were unlimited you would just buy new ones.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love colour and have used colour extensively in the past. Now really feel most peaceful, comfortable and indeed, organised, in calm neutral rooms – mostly soft white, with wood and black for accent. When I want a burst of colour I buy a fantastic bunch of flowers and, by the time the flowers have expired, I have tired of the colour infusion and am happy to return to serenity. By the way, your top photo is indicative of my style!

  • Janis@ White Alder[Home] says:

    I completely agree with your theory, that's pretty much what I'd do. When asking a designer into my home I'd want their gut reaction…. not my "mamby-pamby" commitment phoebe opinion. Although I may have certain colours I gravitate to, I'm paying them for their creativity and experience otherwise I'd feel like I "watered down" their ideas and ended up with a nicely designed boring room.

  • Traci Zeller Designs says:

    I so love what your client said!

  • Roxy Te Owens says:

    I absolutely believe that people who are afraid of color are really just scared of choosing the wrong one! I'm getting ready to re-do three rooms in my parents house, and I have to say, although I love love color, it's sometimes tempting to play it safe especially when it's not a room in your own home!! Don't worry..I'm going to rock it out! Besides, parents have unconditional love for their offspring, right? 🙂

    p.s. THANK YOU so much for stopping by the other day. I was THRILLED!! Having just discovered the blogosphere, I often write and wonder if there's anyone out there actually reading! It made my day!

  • Mary Bo Berry says:

    Hi Maria!
    I've been enjoying your blog since I found it a few weeks ago by way of Joni Webb's Cote de Texas. Great question. In my house I have a not-so-bad muddy yellow in my master bedroom, living room and dining room. What color do I look horrible in? Yellow. My husband wanted yellow. I'm blonde-haired, blue-eyed. I think my issue is that I like too many things – blues, reds, earth tones, etc. I like the idea of being a little more neutral with walls and furniture, then I can change things up with pillows and other accessories. I'm not going to be able to buy new furniture every 7-10 years when I get tired of the color. And yet, I'll see a room with a couch in a beautiful red print and just love it. Back to the walls…I really don't think I want this yellow, but have no idea what color to go with. I'm rambling, but those are some of my thoughts. I live in Texas but have been to Vancouver a couple of times. I LOVE it! Thanks for all of the great information you share in your blog!

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    yes I can see the "poker game" theory going on because you want to see what the colour advisor sees as working best, but I spose that's silly really, because a good colour consultant can probably make any colour work, that's their job. Just got to get the quantity and location right! hmmm, good point!

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    (sorry to go on) BUT if the person likes the colour – there's no right or wrong – its just what the owner likes – fair nuf!

  • ★ Stevie says:

    I love color, but I try to keep all my big purchases in neutrals (furniture, appliances, etc). Since my big color commitment is usually paint, it's not a huge loss if I don't get it just right the first time, or if I want to change it in a few years. I've noticed that there's been a certain trend in the past few years of neutral walls paired with brightly colored furniture and while I'd love nothing more than a turquoise couch (my favorite color!), I couldn't commit to something like that. To me, it has the potential to be the avocodo green fridge. So I put turquoise on the walls instead. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I would want it both ways. I would be happy to tell you the colors I like & don't like because I definitely have colors I don't like. For example, I don't like how red or orange make me feel, but I would be very interested in and would have hired you to pick the "right" colors. The right shades, tones, etc. with colors I like. And of course, I'd be open to hearing your choices too as you are the expert. A collaboration I guess.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm so sick of the assumption that if your home isn't a rainbow of hues that you are "afraid" of color. I love color and use it all the time. I am an artist and it is my life–however, my home decor is mostly white. It would probably be all white if it was practical! I love white! (I consider it a color.) It is calm and peaceful. It serves as a lovely, elegant background for the people that live in and visit my home. I leave the excitement for my art, wonderful music, happy children, and intriguing ideas.

    I think people are afraid of an expensive mistake they will have to live with. I love visiting places that are colorful, but I love to come back to my lovely neutral home.

    I'm unafraid AND neutral.

  • Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury says:

    Very interesting, Maria. Great comments too. I do think most people are afraid to "commit" to color. Especially on walls. When a client says "I like blue", it's my job to help them weed through all the thousands of blues to find the few that would be right for them. Not everyone can or wants to do that for themsleves, so they just settle for whatever was on the walls when they showed up. Usually white. Life's too short for white walls if you'd rather have color!

  • mrsben says:

    At present I fall under the number one category. I need 'safe' renovation/upgrading colors for the prospect of future resale. What I mean by 'safe' is that which goes with the character of the home and appeals to the general masses.

    I don't feel necessarily that I am afraid of color nor pattern nor texture as many of my living spaces are currently wrapped in wallpaper and I do love and know my fabrics. My renovation / upgrading includes 'wallpaper be-gone' and everything from flooring to cabinets, lighting and …. a flowing color palette. To me I am finding it overwhelming as the choices to be made will not necessarily reflect my 'personal' taste.

  • Rebecca R. Dyer says:

    telling you want colors i like is not the problem. it's when you put the color in the room. how it will look on the wall with different light at different times is the trouble for me. hopefully at some point in the future i can use your services.

  • Linda at Lime in the Coconut! says:

    dynamic conversation…color. For me, It changes, often. I'm not afraid to change it (be it walls,fabric…even landscaping) on whim or after time. I don't think I would want to live in the same color forever. As a matter of fact I embrace and enjoy the changing direction/changing colors (the journey not the destination idea). But I often do much of my own work….so certainly keeps costs down.

    You've recieved some great comments…I most agree with the "I go to a high end hairdresser and expect them to find the style…" I imagine the same must often be true when hiring a color consultant.

  • "Yeah, that works..!" says:

    I think we all still carry some of that grade school insecurity and some folks are simply afraid of others judging them – be it the designer or friends & neighbors…Being poker-faced is perhaps more of a defense mechanism than an intentional holding-back..? And they say a Designer's job is all fluff and glam, ha! Maria, I think your nurturing, teacher-ly side is, in my opinion, partly why you are so successful because you are able to blend an amazing design talent with the ability to address each client as the unique and individual person they are.

  • Mary-Frances says:

    I think it all comes down to the emotional reaction to color. EVERYONE knows when a color is dead wrong for them. I love watching the physical reaction (most times they are not even aware of it). They cringe, shake their head "no" or even step back away from the wall.

    The wrong colors make us feel icky!

    So. I think most people choose safe and understimulating to avoid that negative reaction.

    The beauty is that the same holds true for colors we love. We smile. We exhale. Some of us even jump up and down! (The most common reaction from clients who have been vexing for months).

    Our job as color professionals is to reframe a client's thinking about negative color experiences. That the right colors are a wonderful thing.

    Thanks Maria, for this peek into the psychology of the color process!

    Mary-Frances Cimo
    Color Designer

  • Anonymous says:

    I think a good question to ask is, "What color(s) make you happy?" A house is so incredibly personal, and even though a color may be stunning in a particular room – it's the feeling it generates in the inhabitants that's important. So there are probably no "wrong" colors – but there are some that are (much) better than others.

  • Twenty Two Flamboyant Street says:

    I love loads of colour in other peoples homes yet find that I totally adore soft layering of neutrals such as whites, creams, beiges and greys in my own home. I must admit I do feel pressured to add bright splashes of colour in case my palette is considered boring. People naturally expect, because of my love for decorating, for me to be bolder with colour in my environment.

  • Lauren says:

    i love color so much i want my house to be neutral so i can switch in and out colors whenever i feel like it. (haha which is at the very least seasonally but soetimes more.)

    but must say i loved the white-wood-and metallic images.

    totally agree with you about the "color dance" with new clients. There's a fabric-pattern one to, don't you think??


  • Tara says:

    I just read something like: Peace is not a room void of color, clutter or noise but Peace is being in the middle of those things and feeling a calm in your heart. If I could live by that then my house would be full of colors because I love them, but I get anxious around a room full of it. So if I were your client I would tell you what I need my home to "feel" like. If you can make this feeling using your color choices I would go for it. I do keep tons of colorful accessories and dishes ready to set around when I need a color fix.

  • Gwen says:

    You and the comments have hit some really great points. I see the fear as insecurity. What I find sad is that people aren't willing to take risks and decorate in what makes THEM happy. Who cares if that butter yellow that you love is not the hot color right now or if that periwinkle blue is not the Pottery Barn flavor of the month? If it makes your heart sing and is done in a tasteful way, it is perfect.

    I have no color fear and for that I am thankful. I also know that nothing is ever set in stone, walls can be repainted, fabric can be replaced, accents can be transformed, etc.

  • LesleySW says:

    I don't think I'm afraid of color. I think I would trust whatever a designer suggested. However, I could see myself being hesitant about saying what colors I'd been contemplating for fear I might limit a designer. Probably silly.

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    Hey I put a post up today on color trends, and mentioned you. If you get a chance swing on over and give us your tid bits!

  • Virginia says:

    I don't use strong colour, not because I'm afraid of it, but because I LOVE neutrals and subtle colours. To me they are soothing and lovely. I totally disagree that they are inferior to strong, bold colours.
    When consulting with a designer, I would want to hear her ideas before I let her know what I had in mind.

  • Anonymous says:

    Love blues and greens, with accents of purple, grey and orange. I don't see why I wouldn't tell a designer what colors I want — the entire range of tones remains wide open. And I think of blue as a soothing neutral….

  • Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP says:

    Unlike with clothing, that can be quickly changed, I think that colour in the home can be a little scary, if you get sick of it quickly, then changing it can be expensive, time consuming or a real hassle.

  • Designwali says:

    bang on…nobody is afraid of colour..except when its the wong one.

  • The Zhush says:

    I am always able to choose my own colors…however, I do bring in a professional when making other decor related decisions, and I think it translates here to what your clients may feel…fear of making the wrong decision, its expensive and/or you have to live with it, what could be more personal? What I see with myself and my own friends, we live in a world of endless choices and possibilities…as fab as this is, it can be quite overwhelming.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm with "Unafraid AND Neutral" – definitely find the whites/browns/blacks/greys most satisfying. I bring color into the home in other ways.

  • Penny says:

    I totally felt this way when we hired a color consultant for our previous house. I particularly didn't want her to see *anything* in our bedroom. I really didn't like what was there – most of it was there by accident. I didn't want her to assume it was what I liked, and select colors around it.

    I ended up loving all the colors she picked for the house, except for the color for our bedroom. I think she did really try to work with what was there (comforter, towels, Ikea furniture), even though I told her I was willing to totally start over in that room. I didn't like the color she picked.

    In the end, we ended up selecting our own color for the bedroom, and that didn't work either.

    If I had to do it over again, I would have completely hid the things in the bedroom I didn't like, and started from scratch. I still have no idea what I really wanted.

  • Sara @ Russet Street Reno says:

    So true, Maria. It can be very scary to pick a color you love and it ends up making your room look like a booger, or a circus, or just boring. I usually have an uncomfortable stretch of time where I'm clueless about what color to choose. An accent piece or rug usually gets me on track. I also wanted to tell you that your profile picture is gorgeous! I love your aqua scarf 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    For a designer consultation, I would be split between two approaches:

    (1) Have the designer perfect what I know works for me (the more I look into magazines/blogs, the more my style preference is reinforced). But stating my general taste (uncluttered, neutral, monochromatic with a pop of color/bling/pattern), can make me look design-unaware and/or afraid of color :-).

    (2) Be bold and take a chance, because I am talking with the Color Queen… maybe she could do magic (work with the lighting, accessories, furniture, house structure, etc.) and incorporate walls of a vibrant color that I love (by itself, but not on walls), and make it work with the flow of the house without looking dating, cheesy, boring, overpowering.

    I would have trouble articulating my views in both cases.

  • Rachel says:

    wow, popular post you've written here!
    i run into chromophobia with clients all the time. The thing that strikes me the most is that they are afraid of picking the "wrong" color. It always takes a bit of convincing them that there is no one right answer, just solutions that work better than others.

  • rb says:

    I like color but I find that the stronger the color statement, the easier it is to get tired of it. My husband spent a long time finding the perfect deep terra cotta color for our bedroom walls. I have always thought it was a beautiful color, but it's limiting. It's hard for me to find bedding that looks good in there (if I designed my own bedding it would be easier, but I'm not crafty and I'm limited to what I can find in stores) and so the room has started to feel like a burden to me.

    It would be easier if the walls were less of a "color." I wouldn't like them white white, but a lighter shade of a warm color would be easier.

  • Chic Coles says:

    It sure would save a lot of time and if the cards were put down before the first meeting. I always love the response of asking a client to leaf through and pull images they like in magazines. They just do not want to do it. What they do not realize is how much fun it can be. Have a good weekend. The designer always wins the hand.

  • HMCraig says:

    I am not at all afraid of color. I think that comes from the fact that I am an artist, and one of the first things you learn about is that nothing is precious… everything can be changed and improved. When bf and I headed to the paint store for our house, he let me select colors, we got paint, and off we went. I have no regrets. I welcome suggestions, because there are colors and considerations that maybe I did not think about. So, if I had a wonderfully talented interior designer whose taste I already trusted, I would let them have at it. I know that I am kind of unusual that way.

  • Casabella says:

    I think most of us are afraid of the wrong color, or the wrong hue. I used to be a wedding coordinator and when I asked my brides about their wedding colors and there was silence and a blank stare, I would give them an assignment. I would give them 1 week to go through every single Bridal and decor magazine they could afford and to just tear the pages that caught their eye. Sometimes, what they came back was all over the place, but most of the time, I could see that they gravitated towards a certain color scheme. That helped. Do you have your customers look through magazines and see what they like? Good post! I love your blog. Take care.

  • Molly says:

    I'm not afraid of making color mistakes or choosing the wrong color, but my husband is! ha ha. I am for sure a Green and blue color gal.

  • Amy says:

    I appreciate colours. But I also like neutrals and whites. I want to have colour in my home because..I make people feel.something when they walk in. I have a hard time choosing oloura because..I want a feeling and I am not sure how to capture that. And then the next scary part is making it flow with other rooms and adding accessories. And I am not very visual either.

  • Lyn says:

    I love color, and don’t understand people who seem to be afraid of color in their homes … it almost makes me angry to see homes filled entirely with shades of white and beige. When we owned our home, we had rooms painted in vivid shades of purple, red, green, and turquoise; we loved it. People were initially shocked when they came to visit, but once they spent time in our home, they liked it. I’m not sure I understand what it is people are afraid of. Maybe there is some sense that taking pleasure or enjoyment in color is somehow childish or irresponsible? I definitely get the impression from people’s comments that vivid color is not something with which stable adults surround themselves.

  • Brian says:

    I for one am sick to death of the ubiquity of bland in our world these days. Black/white/gray cars, neural gray on every wall of every room, etc. When people say they’re afraid of the “wrong” color, what does that even mean? Who says what’s right or wrong and what fatal result will befall for picking a color?? I grew up hearing my mother talk about “serviceable” colors and colors that hide dirt, etc. Now, as a (male, btw) grownup I say $&@$ that. I want to live in a world — and hence, a home — that has life and solid, vivid colors! No more neutrals (well, at most sparingly), no more pastels, no more gray-tinted hues, no more fretting over nonsense like resale values and the like — life’s too short! I would love to have the opportunity to work with a designer with all colors on the table as potential elements everywhere. I so yearn for a day when we break out of our cycle of bland

  • Peter Reed says:

    My wife says I’d be a nightmare for an interior designer, but then again maybe not as I would employ on. When it comes to paint I only have one rule…it has to be brilliant white or nothing. I loathe wallpaper or patterns of any kind. I bring the colour into my home with the soft furnishings, art and ornaments, etc. Also I hate ornaments that aren’t useful…candlesticks, glass jugs, etc are fine but bits of abstract art for example are a no go.

  • Peter Reed says:

    My wife says I’d be a nightmare for an interior designer, but then again maybe not as I wouldn’t employ on. When it comes to paint I only have one rule…it has to be brilliant white or nothing. I loathe wallpaper or patterns of any kind. I bring the colour into my home with the soft furnishings, art and ornaments, etc. Also I hate ornaments that aren’t useful…candlesticks, glass jugs, etc are fine but bits of abstract art for example are a no go.

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