Color Symptoms May Include

Whenever I'm asked to give color advice, I'm always happy to intervene because I'm never wrong.

I'm never wrong because my clients are never wrong. My clients know more about themselves than anyone else; therefore, they're the real experts of their own color baggage.

They call me when they've hit a color roadblock, and I help them figure out how to go around it, change course, and carry on without fear of the unknown or things going wrong. More often than not, the roadblocks they think are not the ones holding them back.

Such was the case surrounding a couple who was stuck with what to do with their home. Their plan was to eventually blow out the fireplace wall between a small galley kitchen and a large living room/dining room area with high vaulted ceilings, making it all into a great big room. However, over time, the couple couldn't decide if they wanted to invest the money, have the hassles that come with a big remodel, or sell and buy a new home.

When they decided to sell, they couldn't find a home they could both agree on. Tired of living in a state of indecision, the wife called me and asked me to intervene.

The fireplace, she said, was driving her crazy, and she wanted to paint it out.

The minute I stepped through her door, I could see why she thought the fireplace wall was a roadblock. The wall was surfaced over with dark, rough cedar, featuring an oval-shaped forest carving above the fireplace. What made the wood look even more drab and dark were the warm tones in the hardwood floors and the high contrasting white walls.

My client was smart, witty, and modern. She loved color, loved whimsicality, and was humored by kitsch, designs considered in-poor-taste but highly appreciated in ironic ways, such as oval forest carvings.

She had well-founded reasons for buying this house. She loved the 1960's modern vintage vibe of the architecture, the California Dreaming pool in the back yard, which reminded her of the one she grew up in SoCal. She grew up in Southern California, and the color baggage she collected over the years fit the house like a glove.

I began by unpacking her color baggage and telling her there was still a lot of life left in that fireplace wood wall. "Think modern Pendleton," I said.

I asked her to scan around the room as I pointed out an abundance of subterranean dark browns and warm yellows in her "baggage." Then asked her to imagine a perfect shade of deep yellow sunshine.

Suddenly she could visualize her colorful abstract art popping off against this yellow, moving the attention away from the dominant fireplace wall. We discussed how this yellow would bridge the wood beams on the ceiling to the hardwood floors and bring-in-to-focus the woodsy lush green view outside the windows.

The road ahead became as clear as a sunny day.

When I left, I told her she could always paint out the fireplace later. She told me she couldn't wait to start painting.

Change for her came in a certain kind of yellow, the last color on her mind. I knew it was exactly what she needed. Yellow is a color associated with happiness and optimism. Physiologically speaking, it stimulates the logical part of the brain, instigating thought, and curiosity. Yellow is also the color of our third energy center or chakra—low energy symptoms may include: hard to set or maintain boundaries, co-dependent patterns, and low-self-esteem.

Even though I imagine my suggestions already painted, I am profoundly moved when I see them come to life. In the middle of painting her walls, my client called and asked if I wanted to stop by and see the results. I couldn't wait!

Sure enough! I felt a radiating sense of hope greet me at the front door. The fireplace was no longer the focus.

Her color baggage was.

Everything she owned looked custom and personal, like her life. The fireplace had changed color and form, becoming a smokey rustic texture that heightened the room with sheer coolness. As the two of us fawned over this new panorama, her husband walked in. I asked him how he felt about the room's astonishing transformation.

He answered, "I hate yellow."

Three months later, my client left her husband.

It turned out that the roadblock was not the fireplace after all.

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