Why are we so afraid of Colour?

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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leave aREPLY

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. Sara @ Russet Street Reno

    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 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. I appreciate colours. But I also like neutrals and whites. I want to have colour in my home because..I want..to 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.

  13. 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.