02 November 2014

Looking for color advice? Then don't buy this book.

I've been a blogger for over seven years and despite my irregular posting schedule anymore, I get inundated by press releases daily. I look them over of course and a lot of them are interesting.

However, every once in a while one comes through my in bin that really sticks in my craw. Such was the case a couple of days ago when a release showed up that was hawking a new book on the "psychology" of color and how to use said psychology to pick colors for your home.

The press release even went so far as to lead with the tease, "Do you wish you knew the secrets to selecting the best paint for your house like the pros do?" Trust me, any pro who relies on the kind of goobledygook advanced by this book needs to lose his or her license.

Jeanette Chasworth, who calls herself  "the Color Whisperer," managed to cram so much snake oil into a single page release that it boggles my mind. Among her claims are these gems: "It tells you which colors create a mood and how to use that to your advantage to increase your health, lose weight, make your food taste better, and increase energy."

Honestly? The right color walls in my kitchen will help me lose weight? It'll increase my health? It'll make my food taste better?

Let's stop here for a minute and think about this. By what mechanism will I lose weight with the right wall color? Will it burn more calories than I take in? Will it exercise for me?

Will the right wall color season my food just so or thicken my sauces automatically?

And what on earth does a promise to "increase" my health even mean?

There is such a thing as color psychology, let me say that. And there's a place for actual psychology in interior design. However, none of that is absolute.

It's commonly held and never questioned that the color red improves your appetite. Well, what if you were traumatized by the movie "The Shining?" What if "red room" reminds you of "redrum" and you're immediately haunted by images of a deranged Jack Nicholson breaking down your door with an ax? Odds are, the color red is going to put you off the feed.

When I lived in Florida I had a yellow kitchen and I loved it. I loved it because my grandmother Stewart had a yellow kitchen and it reminded me of her every time I walked into the room. My neighbor Kevin hated it and decreed that he was mortified by the very idea of a yellow kitchen. Maybe Kevin was beaten senseless with a car aerial in a yellow room when he was a kid. Whatever the case, it was clear that he had a negative association between kitchen and yellow. On the other hand, I had a positive one.

That's color psychology in a nutshell. Blanket prescriptions of what colors make all people feel or respond in a specific way are nonsense.

The color selection process begins with "what colors do you like?" and it ends with "which of those colors will work in this space?" That, Madame Color Whisperer, is the "secret" to how pros select colors.

This books is hardly the first one to make such nonsensical claims of course. Apparently, making up advice like this is a good way to make a buck but it's a load of crap.

I would love to live in a world where people who proffer such magical advice are held accountable for it. What recourse do I have if I take her advice and fail to lose weight? What if my food tastes the same? What if my health doesn't increase, what ever the hell that means?

If you want to know for real how professionals select colors, just hire one. Honestly, just hire one.


  1. Very well said, Paul. It very much reminds me of the snake oil they used to sell at Medicine Shows in the Nineteenth Century. All that has changed is the product. The patter’s about the same.


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