Feng Shui & Ugly Colors (for Building Foundations)

This House Beautiful article, “This Is Officially the World’s Ugliest Color,” was sent to me by Dawn Sakamoto at Watermark Publishing, who’ve published three of my books. (Many people have commented to me about how professional and lovely my blog looks. Well, that’s thanks to Dawn—I just write the words.) Dawn knows that I am fascinated by color, so she thought I’d get a kick out of it. I told her that it turns out that ugly colors aren’t just funny, they can be important! The article inspired me to write this post on several aspects of how feng shui can be used to symbolize more support in your life.

House Beautiful says Pantone 448 C, also called “opaque couché,” is officially the world’s ugliest color. What do you think? The Australian government uses it on cigarette packaging to discourage smoking.

Ugly is as ugly does, and ugly colors can do important things in feng shui simply by not drawing the eye to a place that you don’t want people to look—such as down. Down is almost never a good direction to move energy. An ugly color almost pushes your gaze away.

On a building’s exterior, almost nothing is more important than its foundation, the color of that foundation, or the foundation plants around the base of the structure. That area of the exterior needs to signify support. You can locate the foundation on the outside of some homes by finding a piece of trim that’s referred to as the building’s watermark—yep, same name as my publisher. That marks where the floor is on the inside of the building, and the area below that is foundation.

Ilex Vomitoria. © University of Hawai‘i Press / Plants for the Tropical Xeriscape

Rounded-leaf evergreen holly (Ilex Vomitoria). © University of Hawai‘i Press / Plants for the Tropical Xeriscape

Dark colors signify solidness—therefore support. Evergreen shrubs such as conifers, or rounded-leaf evergreen holly can symbolize a landform that holds your home the way a metal setting holds a precious jewel—the jewel being your home. If your foundation is low, be sure to get dwarf plants, so they will stay naturally low. There’s no need for foundation plantings to rise above the actual foundation.

I surprised a client, who was in charge of picking the colors for a new school, by describing the color that I was looking for to recommend for the foundations of the buildings on the campus. “We’re looking for an ugly color.” I said, and then quickly spotted a good one in my paint color fan deck. I showed it to her, and she said, “Well, that’s an ugly color alright!” And she also agreed that it looked great with the color above it and certainly did not draw the eye.

Place an ugly color next to a lighter color that it complements, color-wise, and it doesn’t look so ugly anymore. The ugly color sort of goes away, and the lighter color looks nicer than it did by itself. That’s the ideal thing to do with exterior foundation colors. Pick a color that’s darker than the color of the rest of the house—and it can be a lot darker—and that color should not draw the eye. Bingo—that’s the color for the foundation of your house.

“Blacktop” (2135-10) from Benjamin Moore is a wonderful shade of black.

Black is sometimes thought of as an ugly color, but black is beautiful in my opinion. We found the perfect black to paint the foundation of our house—“Blacktop” from Benjamin Moore—combining red and green to get the color. The first time I went to the paint store to buy that color, the salesperson actually said to me, “Don’t you just want the black that’s on the shelf?” I was aghast—I’d never imagined a salesperson saying something like that to me. I said to him, “NO! This is a beautiful black.” (One of my telephone clients in the Los Angeles area said that happened to her—a pushy salesperson at the paint store talked her into buying the off-the-shelf, generic black, and she hated it. We had carefully picked out a black—for wainscoting in an entrance hall—that looked stunning with the wall color above it. Plain black was an insult to the lovely color we had paired it with. I had to tell her to repaint with the correct black.)

“Dirty color” is another phrase I use to describe certain colors—usually interior colors—that need to stay subdued. Those colors become “dirty” by having black or brown gently added to them. They’re easy to live with on an everyday basis.

So, you see, “ugly” can play an important role when it comes to feng shui!


5 thoughts on “Feng Shui & Ugly Colors (for Building Foundations)

  1. Paul J Endresen says:

    “Opaque Couche” is a very useful color. I’ve used it as a base color for doing faux marbling and other applied affects with a variety of standard or generic paint colors. There really are no “ugly” colors, as each color takes on different characters in variable lighting intensities. Good for House Beautiful to come forward with a determined “ugly color”,LOL. Will they be able to stand by that as trends change?


  2. Andrea Lord says:

    I have a “gray-beige” main wall color, Shiitake Mushroom, and a red roof, Morroccan Red, and the base is a nice contrasting golden yellow, Solid Gold, all by Behr. My question is this, should I repaint my watermark or foundation to be feng shui correct?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. clearenglebert says:

    Yes, painting the foundation up to the watermark line will help with the grounding of the home. Behr’s Velvet Cloak is probably your best option. Behr says it looks great with Shiitake Mushroom—and they should know. It’s a gorgeous dark brown. But, only paint the foundation that color—don’t use Velvet Cloak elsewhere on the exterior. You’ll love it—guaranteed!

    Liked by 1 person

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