Erin Davis: Feeling blue, tickled pink, seeing red. Ever wonder why you feel the way you do about certain colours? Well, get ready for an episode full of colour psychology, and plenty of advice for REALTORS®. I’m Erin Davis, and welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for REALTORS® brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Erin: Now, on this episode, I’m joined by Leatrice Lee Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone® Colour Institute. What colour trends can we expect to see this year? How does colour influence our behavior, and how can REALTORS® use colour to your advantage? Let’s ask the expert, shall we? Oh, welcome to REAL TIME, Lee. It’s so good to have you here today to kick off the new year with us. We so appreciate it.
Leatrice Eiseman: It’s my pleasure.
Erin: Ah, great. Now, we’ve got a fun question as we leap into this today. In broad strokes, not to use a painting pun right off the bat, but what is a day in the life of one of the world’s top colour specialists look like, especially around this time of the new year?
Leatrice: Well, I can tell you no day is like any other day because I never know what challenges I’m going to have. You know I am a colour consultant and so people consult with me. They want answers to questions and particularly with my clients, something can come up out of the blue and I have another question to answer. I have to do some research in order to answer it or it’s something I know because it’s specific to the work that I do.
I would say to you a typical day would start out with my reviewing. Obviously, my emails, has anybody written in anybody need any answers? I would then go to some of my colour consulting work, which I do with my daughter, who is also my associate, Beatrice. We are also teaching classes online. Even though these are online classes, I’m still available to the students to answer questions. We have to allocate time for the training. I work a lot with Pantone®, my major client, and do a lot of consulting for them as the director of the Pantone® Colour Institute.
I wear so many hats that I never know exactly unless I have a prescribed deadline. If I have a deadline, then I know I’ve got to allocate some time in order to pick out the appropriate colours for whatever that client needs. Be it in packaging or in graphics, whether it’s a fashion client or cosmetics or a widget that needs to go on a shopping market shelf. My work is full of challenges and that is part of what I really, really enjoy about doing colour consulting because you really have to put your thinking cap on and so many people think it’s so simplistic. Tell us what colour to use to improve productivity?
I get those kinds of questions all the time, and then I have to come back with, wait a minute, I need to ask you some questions in order to give you the answers. There’s a lot of homework involved. That’s a long-winded answer to your question, but it reflects what my days are like.
Erin: Well, it sounds like you probably do a lot of traveling too. You’re in your seat, you’ve had your first beverage, you’re just about to start reading your favorite new book, and somebody finds out what you do. Is there a question that a fellow traveler asks you more often than any other?
Leatrice: Yes, absolutely. I can be sitting next to the CEO of a big company who millions of dollars will come in or out as a result of the colour they’ve used, and they will have specific questions. Invariably what it boils down to is what colour should I paint my living room walls.
Leatrice: It’s become like a family joke. When I’m going off to wherever it is and I come home, my daughter will say, “Okay, who did you sit next to, and what did they ask?” Almost invariably it’s that same question. It really shows me that in the end, even though you make these amazing colour decisions about the widget or whatever, people are so involved with the colours that are around them. They don’t necessarily think that way. They don’t think that they are until they’re in a panic and then have to make a decision about what colour to paint those walls.
It becomes very personal. That also is a part of my work that I dearly love that finding out more about people when they share what they like or dislike about a colour.
Erin: Oh, and we’re going to dive into that. The psychology of it is just, oh, it’s so fascinating. Okay, Lee, have colour trends changed over the years? Their impact, their longevity, and so on? I don’t know. Have we always been this obsessed with colour?
Leatrice: I don’t think people have been this obsessed with colour. I think that what has happened is even though for many people who are creatives, designers, and artists, and people’s whose work involves colour or their hobbies or interests, but I do think what has happened with the proliferation of this global network that we started to hear about in the late ’80s and ’90s, and also television shows, the home improvement shows. I think what has happened now is that people will look at those shows or go online and they see much more information that’s out there about colour, more discussion about colour, and as a result, it’s opened up everybody’s consciousness and awareness about colour.
I have to tell you, even though we will probably talk about colour in the year further in this conversation, one of the reasons that I started to do the Colour of the Year for Pantone® was because we were getting calls from people, particularly at the end of the ’90s. People were emailing or calling Pantone® and asking, “What’s the colour of the new millennium?” We understood that we needed to come up with the colour to represent that. They were interested in that.
For me, the fascinating part of it was the psychological impact of that. Why are they asking that question? What does colour represent to them? What does the future hold as far as colour is concerned? I think that doing the Colour of the Year really started an in-depth conversation with people who never even thought about colour before.
I remember my husband coming home from the barber and he’s saying to me, “The barber said to me, it’s about that time that the Colour of the Year is going to be announced. What do you think the Colour of the Year is going to be?” That’s his barber. That’s not a designer, interior designer, or artist. This is an ordinary person. We started that conversation about colour. I think that since 1999 in particular, it has become a big hot topic.
Erin: I guess so. What a coup for Pantone® to have you and to be associated so closely now with the colour, the authoritative voice. That’s absolutely astounding. You were right there for the birth of it. That’s amazing, Lee. Could you have imagined at that time that this would become such a thing?
Leatrice: I didn’t realize that it would become such a thing right away, but as the years went by, I could see the momentum building and then again, dispensing itself through population, people that you would never think would have any access to information about the Colour of the Year, the ordinary person on the street that you could have a conversation with, and they would discuss the Colour of the Year.
It was just absolutely astounding that it would have the impact that it had. Of course, I’m delighted by it because if you can get a conversation going about colour, you can find out an awful lot about the person who’s sharing that information with you, and you can help them. The bottom line to me is to educate people about colour. That’s my passion.
Erin: Absolutely. You’re good at it, obviously, to be doing this now for 25 years. That’s incredible, in any line of business. To be doing it with something you feel passionate about, what a gift. What a gift.
Leatrice: Yes, this is.
Erin: Is it a bit of responsibility Lee, though? When you go out, I see your fuzzy peach and I will raise you a manicure because I went-
Leatrice: Ooh. I like it.
Erin: -to the manicurist. I said, “I’m going to be talking to this woman who knows from colour,” and she says, “It’s fuzzy peach for 2024, so I’d better get on it.” You can’t wear this crown lightly?
Leatrice: Well, no, I don’t take it lightly because I realize that a lot of people do listen to it and embrace it. For me, the challenge is for those people who might say, and the colour is Peach Fuzz, they might say, “Oh, I’m not so sure that I’m so crazy about that colour.” If you get into a conversation with them about it, you might find out, here I put on my therapist hat, and I say to them, “Well, was there anything in your childhood that you can remember about the colour? Anything negative perhaps that happened to you?”
Sometimes they can answer it right away. Sometimes they have to think about it a while and get back to you, but the answer could be, “Well, you know I remember when I was about four years old, I went to a carnival. It was my first carnival. I ate cotton candy. Oh, and I think it was that colour, and I ate too much of it and got sick on my way home and I’ve never liked peach fuzzy colours since then.”
My challenge becomes, particularly if you’re talking to someone who’s designing a new product, their personal interest, their personal likes and dislikes, can’t come into it. It’s a question of, is it going to appeal to your target audience. If peach fuzz is exactly the colour that I feel is going to work for that product, then you’ve got to wipe out these negatives that are in the back of your mind and think of it from a positive perspective.
My challenge is that happened when you were four years old. Does it have any effect on your life now? Does it impact your life at all? It’s an old memory that’s stored in your memory bank. It has nothing to do with you as an adult and certainly as a business decision.
Again, in my consultant/therapist hat, I try to lead people down the path of making a positive out of the negative because it is important to look at it objectively. Look at your decisions objectively. I tell my students all the time, it cannot be a personal decision. It has to be a professional decision.
Erin: It’s interesting that you talk about therapist/consultant hats that you wear, because I’m sure that every REALTOR® is going, “Yes, me too.” All of this just resonates so clearly and people’s preferences when it comes to colour and psychology. Let’s do a little bit of word association or colour association if we can. Lee, you’ve already brought up, and I called it fuzzy peach. Peach fuzz. Peach fuzz. I got to get to know this for the year ahead.
Some of the colours and associations that you find most commonly among your students, among your clients, the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street, or whatever during your daily?
Leatrice: Well, it’s interesting because from a historical perspective, and of course, I do study the history of colour, I have to in order to know where people’s thoughts and feelings came from. What were the influences in the world around us when they first formulated their opinions, where the public, in general, formulated their opinions? I do use colour word association studies. I’ve used them for a number of years, and we can track those studies and see if people’s opinions have changed.
Of course, the colour I love to point out all the time, particularly for REALTORS® because you find so much of this colour, whether it’s on the outside of the house or the inside of the house, and that is brown as a colour family. I can remember a time when we’d showed people a little swatch of Pantone® brown. Invariably the response would be earth, dirt, or dirty. Now that can be positive, or it can be negative. If they’re gardeners and they love that wonderful, rich humus soil, then brown’s a good thing.
Or they may come up with chocolate. Obviously, that’s a positive response. More often than not, it was about earth and more about kind of dirty. Over the years, what I saw primarily coming from the fashion world, cosmetic world, where a lot of the trends do start, there was this changing attitude about brown. That was, I can remember seeing a Michael Kors dress coming down the runway, sequins and paillettes and sparkle. You never saw this for after 5:00. Brown was strictly a country colour, not a city colour, so to speak. Worn for daytime, never for the evening.
Other designers hopped on the bandwagon, and they used brown in a very dressy way. Of course, when you ask people about brown from the standpoint of beautiful leather does brown leather remind you, even a faux leather that we might be using today that looks like leather has a rich patina on it. If you were to go into a home and you saw grandma’s armoire that’s been in the family for years and you’re never ever going to part with that armoire because it’s very special to you or any other piece of furniture. Or your new home has those wonderful wood floors with a nice shiny patina on them.
Somehow people don’t think of brown as a presence when it’s in a wood tone. They think of it if you mention it as a pigment or as a paint colour. What I think REALTORS® have to to bear in mind, in particular, is how and where a colour is used. What is the context of the colour? Let’s not just say, “Do you like brown? Do you dislike brown?” Let’s think about it in various ways it might be used in a home, and look in how rich, or how elegant or how earthy, in the case of doing something rustic, earthy would be a good term to use.
It’s no longer dirty. We don’t think of that wood patina on the floor as dirty unless it has a lot of dog hair on it. We want to get rid of that. We know about that.
Erin: Yes, we do.
Leatrice: Yes, we do, but on the other hand let’s think of the positive aspects of it. Even if you were to describe a home to a prospective client, what positive things can we say about that colour? Going back to brown for a moment in the fashion field, again, to supplement Michael Kors came the brown diamonds. That became a big deal. Nobody had ever seen or worn a brown diamond before.
Of course, the movie Chocolat came out about the same time that brown was gaining more momentum. That was a very artsy kind of film and had a lovely connotation. Even Godiva chocolates was no longer meant just for the elite. You could find Godiva in the corner store, in your supermarket. It was a little more pricey than some of the other chocolates were, but certainly worth it.
Your cosmetic companies started to come up with the usage of brown. Now of course, we see it even further supplemented as as a symbol of inclusion, of thinking in terms of all kinds of skin tones, and how some of the beautiful browns and mocha colours, the whole family of brown. We’ve developed a much different connotation of that colour. As a colour consultant and as a client talking to clients, I have to point out these things because they might be mired in a certain period, arrested in a certain period of their development where they don’t think in terms of these newer aspects of brown.
For anyone in the real estate field, I can tell you, when you’re talking about a person’s home, a home they want to purchase or they want to sell, it gets very emotional. You have to become, in a way, a colour consultant yourself in that they look to you for your advice and your knowledge. For me, knowledge is all important. Training yourself, teaching yourself as much as you can, reading as much as you can about colour, because it’s that guidance that helps your client develop confidence in you and your awareness level, and you’re making them more aware as well.
Erin: I want to talk about peach fuzz, and this is the way that you described it. You said that this year’s colour choice echoes our innate yearning for closeness and connection at colour radiant with warmth and modern elegance. A shade that resonates with compassion offers a tactile embrace, and effortlessly bridges the youthful with the timeless.
I agree with that. Of course, I do because you know exactly what you’re talking about, but it seems to be such a lane change from what the colour was in 2023, which was so. It was warm and passionate and just so sexy. Let’s talk about what was, what is, and how you get from ’23 to ’24, Lee.
Leatrice: Well, the most important thing in deciding on the Colour of the Year is what is the global zeitgeist about the colour. Listening to people they’re telling us what it is that they want. What are their aspirations? What are their hopes? That’s a very, very important points arriving at a colour decision.
That ability to listen, to absorb what is happening in the world around you.
Now, we certainly know there’s a lot of concern about our world today, a lot of reasons to be concerned. The Viva magenta, which is an appropriate name for the colour, we felt coming out of COVID, we could feel a little more confident. At the time we were thinking about naming the colour, which is always about six months before we actually do it, we start to gather our, like squirrels, we gather our little nuts and kernels that lead us to the Colour of the Year.
We knew that we were on a pathway to come out of COVID, so people didn’t want to be sequestered. They wanted to be with others. They wanted a reason to celebrate. What is more celebratory as a colour than Viva Magenta? Even the sound of it, Viva, it’s full of life. It’s full of energy. That we felt needed to be infused and now people are telling us, “Okay, we need some quiet time.” We need time to ourselves, we need time to communicate with others, but not necessarily let’s party, party, party, but let’s do it on a more thoughtful level. I think thoughtfulness, kindness, these kinds of words, kept coming back to us again and again and again.
As I said, that’s the first area that we look at. Now, of course, from a more practical standpoint, we have to look at what the designers are doing, what they’re bringing down the runways, what the cosmetic world is doing, because that’s always very indicative of direction. At one point in time, we did not look at industrial design at all, because industrial designers were always at the bottom of the list of designers as to who they would embrace or what they would embrace.
In the world of electronics, in particular, or the computers themselves, it was putty-coloured. Nobody ever did colour until Apple came along, as we know what happened in the late ’90s, and they still didn’t sell as many as PCs, but I will tell you, nobody who lived through that era will ever forget the impact of those amazing, colourful computers.
People did start to look at industrial design and think, “Oh my goodness, there’s an area where colour is being used too, in mundane products we wouldn’t have thought of in colour.” As a colourist, one of the other areas that I look at, and people always think this is a head-scratcher, I look at what the concept cars are for the future because we know that the vehicle manufacturers have all of this marvelous technology that’s available to them to test out new finishes, and new finishes help to bring new colours. We’re always looking ahead to see what’s on the drawing board.
It’s not what’s in the showroom today, but what the future holds. That’s an area that we look at as well. We look at what’s happening in the world of sports. Is the Olympics going to be held next year? What country? What are the flags of the country? What are the uniform colours that might be worn? Anything that might indicate to us where colour is going from a technological standpoint, from a fashion standpoint, graphic design, packaging, anybody doing anything new in packaging that really is different and unusual, what colours are they using?
What about the art world and the entertainment world? Certainly, we don’t look at the movies that are coming out today, but we’re looking at the movies that are going to be released next year. People all over the world are going to be watching those films. What colours are being used in the film? Are they animated films? I always tell adults, by the way, even if you don’t have a kid, borrow one to go to movies and look at the animated films because that tells you a lot. Film animators are so marvelous in looking to the future, and they have the technology available to them now that enables them to put colours up on the screen that are so wonderfully intense.
It doesn’t have to be a bright colour. It can be something like a neutral tone that they show us, a nuance of a colour that perhaps we hadn’t seen before. Is it a gray? Is it a blue? Is it somewhere in between? We’re constantly educating ourselves about direction, but we have all of these areas to look at and to do a lot of homework in.
Erin: Wow. I’m trying, in my mind’s eye to picture choosing the colour. You went with Viva Magenta and everybody knew Barbie was coming out in 2023. Was there a tie in there, Lee, or was that strictly luck?
Leatrice: During the time that the movie came out, it certainly was a big deal and it’s certainly not totally gone away. We wanted something that would have a bit more adult energy that would be involved in it. We wanted that same excitement. We were on the same track and thinking in terms of a colour family, but we felt that Barbie pink would be perhaps a little bit too obvious and maybe be perceived of as a little too juvenile. We always want our colour to be rather ageless so that it could appeal to all ages again, depending on the context in which it’s used.
Erin: When you talk about peach fuzz, and when I brought this up at the nail salon where all the good conversations happen or your husband’s barbershop, of course, there’s a thought of, “Wow, it’s back.” Of course, it was a thing, and I remember my mom having throw pillows and a couch and stuff that had some peach in it. Is there a lifespan for colour, Lee? Do you look at it because we see things come back, like shoulder pads in fashion, for example, and different elements in the home as well that come back, like retro appliances or things like that?
Do colours have a lifespan that will come back? Will we see Millennium Blue again? Which of course we can tell now is 24 years old. What do you think of that?
Leatrice: At one point, we could talk about the longevity of a colour. We could rate colour from the standpoint of if you looked at just general likes and dislikes you would find that perhaps orange and some of our colours like bright lime greens and some of the purples were never considered the most popular colours. Invariably blue is at the top of the list. We know that, but there are many variations of blue. What blue are we talking about?
To answer your question, even though you read occasionally or see online or you hear somebody say, “Oh, trends happen so quickly.” Actually, I think it’s the opposite. I think that trends are lasting longer now in colour than they ever have before. One of the reasons for that is that we’re dealing multi-generationally when you’re looking at the younger audience, the kids, who were not even living when avocado green, harvest gold were the good colours. Remember that? Nobody wanted to touch those colours in the ’80s because we were so inundated with those same colours.
Leatrice: Colour traumatized. I like that. I might use that again. Absolutely. Now, what you’re seeing is that colours have a longer shell place. I’ll point out the yellow-green as a perfect example. Now, when we started to look at green as a Colour of the Year many years ago, obviously we were looking at the social implications of the colour.
If you say nature to people, if you say ecology, if you say environment and you say colour, almost invariably green is one of the first colours that comes to mind. The preservation of the environment, preserving the world around us. Now, we could think in terms of other earth colours, too. Green somehow implies a freshness and implies growth, new growth. Spring comes every year, and we see those new shoots coming out of the ground. We know that’s always going to happen.
It gives us a feeling of something that’s hopeful with that yellow-green. Now, at one time, it was not as popular a colour. It was considered garish. It’s too bright. Now, we look at that colour as being more closely associated with nature and with preserving nature. Again, it’s what’s happening in the world around us. What social implications, what environmental implications are there, geographic implications? That has to be brought into play as far as choosing a Colour of the Year or–
I work a lot on forecasts, both for the home, for interiors and exteriors. A lot of my clients are clients who are building homes or communities and choosing colours. I have to look at it from the standpoint of not just the geography of the area that we’re in, but what are the implications of that colour now? Is it thought of more positively? I would have to say to you that the yellow-greens, I would say in the last 10 to 15 years, have been more wildly popular than any other time in history. A lot of that is because of the connection to the preservation of the universe, if not our planet.
Erin: All right, let’s talk about homes. Often when we look at homes, I know in my case, if I’m looking at a whole bunch of them, and that’s usually the way it goes, I’ll go, “Okay, the blue house or red kitchen house or.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red kitchen, but who knows? You know what I mean. I will associate the colour with a house. What about people like you talk, you said with builders and that sort of thing and we all associate new homes a lot with builder beige or very light gray or something like that. What is your advice to people who are looking to make an impact but not scream a colour?
Leatrice: That’s a very good question. It’s a question I get a lot. Obviously, I mentioned the geographic location. You don’t want to be the purple lady who paints the house purple if the neighborhood is filled with other earth tones. Obviously, the neighbors aren’t going to be very happy with that. Let’s say that purple is a favorite colour, obviously, for us it’s obvious, not obvious to everyone depending on how fanatic you are about a colour, if you love a colour, like a purple think in terms of the purple family. There are many different shades of purple. Everything from an elegant eggplant or the the French call it aubergine way down to the mauves and the lilacs and the grade of lavender-ish purples. There’s a whole range and if that’s a colour that makes you happy, there’s opportunities to use that colour within the home.
Now, we obviously think of the accent colours, the pillows, the accent carpet, and perhaps something in a painting or a poster on the wall. Many opportunities, a lampshade wherever. I think that it’s a really important if you’re selling the home to do something that’s a little memorable so that when people are looking at a lot of houses as perspective buys you are right. They will leave that home and think, “Oh, that’s the house that had the red toaster and those appliances in the kitchen.” It makes it more memorable.
I think that there is a case to be made for making the home more memorable so that when the prospective buyer leaves there is something they can tag onto that house that makes them remember the house. Now, it doesn’t mean that you’ve got to repaint all the walls in that particular colour. I like to point out there are other areas as well, like for example the front door for curb appeal. If everybody else has a brown wooden door and maybe you want to make it a little more elegant, maybe your home is a little more traditional and you want to set the stage before you even open that door. Perhaps aubergine is the colour to use on that front door. Perhaps and certainly we know that we want to doll up the front of the house for curb appeal. Perhaps it’s in the plants that sit on the front porch or on the front steps. Something that you can do in your landscaping around the outside of the house that will make it more memorable.
Oh, do remember those purple hydrangeas, how gorgeous they were against the house? Those memorable things.
I’m not suggesting that it has to be a bright knock-your-socks-off colour but I will say this about paint and I think it’s really important to bear in mind, everybody’s mindful about how much is it going to cost me. I don’t want to have to pull up the carpeting and replace it. That’s going to cost too much.
What about the entryway? What if I did one wall in the entry in that wonderful new Peach Fuzz colour, which is very warm and inviting? I want people to leave my house saying, “Oh, that’s a very warm house. That’s an inviting house. A feeling of nurturing of possibly using that colour in a bathroom because it throws a good light on the skin.
There are those opportunities to use colour, and it doesn’t have to be brilliant colour, that’s not what I’m suggesting, but finding a spot, the right place to use it, to make the house more memorable and to leave people with the right impression. As I always like to say, and I’ve already mentioned, if people leave your home and they say, “Oh, warm, inviting, I felt welcome in that atmosphere,” then let’s think about that in terms of what we might use in the colours for that house.
Erin: Such great advice, Lee. When we’re talking about, say, a development that’s got a school nearby and parks, and you’re going to aim at the young family, for example, is there such a thing as staging that might appeal to certain buyers?
Leatrice: As far as young families are concerned, I think you need to think in terms of your area. The obvious thing is that there have been a lot of the gray walls, and of course, the black and white and a lot of it’s being shown on television shows and inspiration online. The problem with that is that they all wind up looking very much alike. There’s that memorability that disappears again.
Now, I say to people that live in a particular home, if you love the country atmosphere and you have decorated in country, now country also conjures up certain ideas. It can be over countryfied with too many home sweet homes all over the walls. At the same time, I think younger people today are a bit more sophisticated in their tastes but at the same time, they may find something memorable in something that they own. Maybe grandma’s house was a favorite place to go when they were children and grandma had blue willow china that was in her china cabinet and you want a few pieces of that because it reminds you of your lovely grandma who you dearly love, and you want to introduce that colour scheme, but you don’t want to do it so that it’s overdone. That’s the suggestion I give.
I think that REALTORS® have to become, anyone who is involved in the sale of houses or putting a house on the market, you have to become a colour consultant, too. I mentioned that earlier, and I think it’s important to question the would-be buyer or the would-be seller. What is there about your home that speaks to you? What is the message that you would want to give across, particularly in buying a home? What are you looking for? That’s the advice that you could give to the person who’s putting the house on the market.
Just a few pieces, not a whole wall of grandma’s china, but a few touches of that that bring back some of that nostalgia but is not overdone. I never say to people, “Oh, that’s so yesterday.” Maybe the mauve carpeting was done several years back, but it’s still in good condition. Maybe now with the mauve, we’re going to use some other tones next to it. Maybe we’re going to use some blue-greens instead of the usual kinds of colours that you would use with the mauve.
Here’s your educational aspect that I was talking about earlier, of REALTORS® being aware that there’s a great deal to learn about colour, and you should get the books, get the magazines, look online, take some colour training. All of this is helpful because the more you know about colour and the more you can pass on to your clients, the more confident they become in your abilities. Now, I’m being redundant, I said it before, but I’m a teacher at heart, and I believe that learning more about a subject makes you more valuable as a salesperson.
Erin: As you talk about therapist, consultant, there’s also a little bit of decorator in there, too, because one of your messages that I love too, is that if you want to inject a little bit of colour, like I see you’ve got the Peach Fuzz on and I picked up a scarf. I haven’t put it on yet, but I almost did for you today, Lee. Just eclectic, as you’ve said.
Again, it’s not a magic bullet. It can be an eye dropper of the colour that brings in the feeling of 2024 and Peach Fuzz and what you’re trying to, but not trying too hard, to send us a message if I’m getting your message correctly here today.
Leatrice: Yes, absolutely. I like your usage of the word eye dropper and also the word eclectic, because eclectic is a keyword today, meaning that you don’t have to be so super conscious of everything being absolutely matchy, matchy. That it’s okay to have a more traditional setting and to use a lucite coffee table in front of that wonderful cushy sofa. That you don’t have to be as concerned about periods now, but what’s more important is getting the essential feeling that you want get across. That you have a room that perhaps is rather dark, doesn’t have a lot of light coming into it, small windows, the first thing to think about is how to enlarge that space to make that a more welcoming space.
I will share with you a tip that was given to me by a famous decorator in New York, many years ago. I’ve never forgotten it. I thought it was so brilliant. That was, if you have a room that’s small and it doesn’t have a lot of light, the obvious thing is to paint it with a light colour. I will tell you; it doesn’t necessarily have to work that way.
Let’s say it’s a small powder room or a bathroom that you’re not going to– you don’t live in that room, you’re going to walk in and out, use it, and then come out and do whatever else. Sometimes a bit of drama is something to add too. I have never had a powder room in any home that I’ve ever had that I don’t paint some deep dramatic colour because I know that people are going to walk into that and say, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of doing a room in this dark colour.”
Again, think context, a room that doesn’t have any light coming in, but it has electric light so that you can see, let’s stretch your imagination a bit and not do just the obvious. At the same time, getting back to the designer who said to me in a small room let’s do the ceiling in blue. I thought, “Wow, why?” He said, “Because blue is the sky–
Leatrice: -and because it opens us up to the universe and it makes us feel more connected with the outdoors, the outside.” Same reason for using green plants in a room. Not only does it help as far as oxidation is concerned, or oxygenation, I should say, but it also brings in a sense of balance.
Now, there is something called homeostasis in interior design that I think is a really important point. Again, I teach it in my classes. Homeostasis is a fancy word for balance. That is that a room should never be decorated in totally warm colours or totally cool colours because you need a balance. Your temperature needs to be regulated in a given space. If you walk into a room that has mostly warm colours in it, and a lot of people would prefer that in a home, be sure that you bring some green plants in. Be sure there’s some touch of blue-green or bluish-lavender, something from the opposite side of the colour wheel because that helps to give you balance. It keeps your homeostasis on a human level at a good point.
Conversely, we don’t ever want to do a room that’s all done in cool colours because then we’re going to start to feel cold. Nobody wants to leave a home and say, “Oh, I felt chilled in that home. It’s so cold.” That’s never a compliment. I’m not saying don’t use cool colours because they are. Blue is highly preferred, but what shade of blue are we going to use? Is it going to be a Periwinkle Blue as we did two years ago as the Colour of the Year, very peri that has a little red in it, a little purplish tone, and it warms that blue up.
We don’t have to say, “Don’t ever use blue because it’s cold.” We might say, “Let’s warm that blue up a little bit. “Again, it’s educating yourself to the usage of colour and not overgeneralizing about don’t use this, don’t use that. Always think of it in context in terms of where the home is, where the space is, how are you using the colour?
Erin: Oh, there’s so much wisdom here. Lee, honestly, we could go on. As we wrap up, I think part of the message that we’ve gotten from you and from Pantone® through the years is that, you know what? There’s more than one colour on that paint chip, and it doesn’t have to be that Peach Fuzz. It can be any of the ones in the family. I think that’s really important to remember too.
You’ve mentioned this in branding for companies and for REALTORS® who have a company or their own partnership or whatever. If you want to freshen up the colours, not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but maybe to look at another colour in the family and keep your basic colour, but just expand on it, grow, let it blossom.
Leatrice: Exactly. It’s a very, very well-made point. You don’t want to throw the baby out with bath water. You have equity if you’re doing branding in a particular colour, you’ve established it over the years. You’ve developed a reputation around it. Nevertheless, we want to freshen it up a little bit to a new pair of eyes. Again, you mentioned that younger generation that might be purchasing that product or that home, whatever it would be.
Let’s give it a fresher approach. That’s taking a look at the colours you already have and using a nuance of that colour.
There’s also something else that I would like to mention, that is that there are a group of colours called crossovers that we see in nature around us frequently. As a result, they are very versatile colours. It’s important to think in terms of versatility, and that is something that I teach in my classes as well. As a matter of fact, right now I’m working on a program that we are going to offer online to people who want more knowledge about colour in interiors. They don’t want to be overwhelmed. It’s not all about colour theory which can make you crazy after a while, but it’s the most basic ideas, the most basic concepts about colour. I go back to the idea of educating yourself, keeping yourself aware of what’s going on in the world of colour.
Erin: Thank you. Thank you for educating us, enlightening us, colouring our world. We so appreciate your time and your wisdom today, Lee. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, one more thing. I can’t let you go. Just while it’s us, what’s going to be the colour for 2025?
Leatrice: Oh, you know I can’t tell you that.
Erin: Oh, I can’t ask.
Leatrice: I can’t reveal it. Honestly–
Erin: Colour me blushing.
Leatrice: –we’re still doing our homework. We’re not anywhere near there yet.
Erin: Oh, I’d love to be in on the think tank. Thank you so much for opening everything to us here today. Take care. Well, I tried. Okay. Thanks, Lee. Happy New Year.
Leatrice: Thank you, Erin.
Erin: Wasn’t she great? Colour consultant extraordinaire, Lee Eiseman. Wow. I was tickled Peach Fuzz to learn that our perceptions of colour can actually change. I absolutely loved what Lee said about eclecticism in the home, so fascinating. If you want to learn more about colour trends and psychology, whether it’s for yourself or for your business, Lee’s got you covered. She has authored 10 books on the subject and has a handful of courses available through her website, leatriceeiseman.com, and you can find it in our show notes.
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