“That is so far out of the envelope!” I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that coming from the manager of a paint store in Kailua. I was just trying to buy five gallons of paint so we could give a final coat to the exterior of part of our new home. That was almost twenty years ago and we’ve loved that color.
I first noticed “Proper Purple” when I was consulting for a local Waldorf School. I recommended that their office front doors be purple and then found a purple that would look good with the exterior color. When I was looking at the paint chip in the fan deck of colors, I said out loud, “That’s a beautiful color. I wish our house was that color!” So that’s why I was in the paint store and listening to the manager (the manager!) raving at me. I had gone through this kind of thing once before and I tell that store in my “Ugly Color” post. I was dumfounded—I didn’t immediately get that he was talking about pigmentation. He really said the words with something like venom. I let him rave, pulled out my credit card and walked out with the five gallons of paint.
The person who had asked me to come to the Waldorf campus to consult, confirmed that I had picked a great exterior foundation color when she said, “That’s ugly, alright.” when I showed her an exceedingly drab paint chip. I said, “Great, we don’t want to draw the eye down to the lowest part of the building.”
Back to bold exterior colors. Bold does not mean bright. Bright would be a mistake on residential exteriors—it’s too yang. A residence is a yin dwelling—when compared to a business. It’s hard to ignore bold, but it’s impossible to ignore bright.The extreme of bright is fluorescent color. Its only use should to denote a temporary emergency. Don’t even use a fluorescent toothbrush, if it’s going to be kept on view when not in use. Bright colors are best used on the exteriors of certain (depending on several circumstances) commercial buildings. Bright has a tendency to grab hold of your eyeballs and not let go—and that works for a business (if it’s the right business and the right color).
Our purple house is a rich full tone. It does not stand out from the greenery around it, and that was why we chose it. That, and the fact that it’s my husband’s favorite color. (My favorite is yellow and the interior of the first room in that purple building is yellow, so it feels very balanced in that way.)
I recently recommended that a couple paint their house purple. They had seen our home and loved it. The wife said that purple was her favorite color. I said, “How nice to come home to a color you love.” When I last saw her, I asked how the painting was going, and she said it was a bit scary to be using a bold color, but that she did love it, and she said that I was right—having a nice but dull trim color to go with it was very helpful for the overall scheme.
Even seriously discussing a bold exterior can panic a client. I had a client start tapping to calm herself down as I was discussing a pink for her exterior door screen. I think we settled on a yellow. Pink was simply beyond her comfort level. Red wouldn’t do because it would look too Christmassy with the existing green exterior color.
One Kailua client needed to repaint a house that she had recently inherited following the sudden accidental death of her parents. She was emotional about painting the outside, but it had to be done, since one possibility was that the house would be sold. I could tell that it was hard on her to even think about something as encompassing as the whole exterior of the house. It became obvious that it was going to take a while, so I took my time, even knowing that quick color choices are often the best. Picking a good color can sometimes take less than a minute. My suggestions to her resulted in more searching for colors. After a torturously long time, we came up with two colors—one for the main exterior and a stunning complementary color for the trim. I got a call in the morning a few weeks later, and she said, “The painter is on his way with the paint and I can’t go through with it.” I spent the next thirty minutes or so talking her out of the panic attack. And was I ever relieved when she called several days later and said, “I love it!”
The bold colors that I had recommended weren’t really all that bold—they mostly seemed that way to the client at the time. The colors we picked were “say-something” colors, not exactly bold colors. I wouldn’t recommend bold colors for a home that’s going to be for sale. The house was located about a block from the ocean and the main color was a charming blue. If I remember correctly the trim was a yellow, and truthfully, it’s hard to lose with that combination.
Being a feng shui consultant calls on all of my Libra and Rabbit skills sometimes—especially when bold colors are involved! And when should bold colors be involved? When fame is involved in the resident’s livelihood. (In my case, I’m a writer, so the use is called for.)
A P.S.: I know that for 2018 purple is being promoted by some designers—color-of-the-year kind of thing. That whole concept misses me. It’s about consumerism—go for the latest thing. I advise people to never do that. It’s bad for the earth, and it’s best not to pay attention to what’s “in style” now. It’s too much paying attention to froth.