Dealing With The Fear of Design Judgment

Friends of mine that paid me to tell them the truth and it paid off. They had me come in after they had remodeled their home. The remodel looked great but the home didn't feel perfect.

Friends of mine that paid me to tell them the truth and it paid off. They had me come in after they had remodeled their home. The remodel looked great but the home didn't feel perfect.

We don't live in showrooms. Most people have things that are old and new. Some things they hate, some they love. As a Residential Colorist, I work with clients that don't need designers as much as they need a color intervention. They are not really looking to redesign everything, they are looking to make a good design out of everything. There is a lot of personal baggage to get through. When you are asked to judge someone's home based on the good, the bad, and the ugly, it's personal.

Homes are personal. It's personal. The fear of people judging you is personal. 

They lived in the Caribbean. They are not afraid of color. They love to entertain. Their life is colorful.

They lived in the Caribbean. They are not afraid of color. They love to entertain. Their life is colorful.

I call paint color the emotional thermostat of the home. A richer neutral like Devine Humidor brought out all the warm tones of the new wood windows and the old copper fireplace hood. It also balanced bold colors.

I call paint color the emotional thermostat of the home. A richer neutral like Devine Humidor brought out all the warm tones of the new wood windows and the old copper fireplace hood. It also balanced bold colors.

Here is the deal, good judgment is necessary to make good decisions in life. Not all judgements are equal. Not all opinions weigh the same. For someone to trust your good judgment they have to understand why the judgment is not only good, but to be trusted above their own. Good judgment is simple and usually comes with a greater good in mind. I learned early on that if my opinion was to be trusted, I had to keep it simple.

There was a small neighborhood street out in the outskirts of Portland. If memory serves me right it had about nine lots with seven homes that had already been built. I had been hired by five of the home owners, and in each home I had chosen a personal color palette.

Then I got a call from homeowner number 6.

I was particularly excited to see that the husband of homeowner number 6 had stayed home that day to be part of the color process. I was thrilled actually. In my experience, men are usually very linear. If you show them an easy route from point A to point B, they will take it. They are usually less emotional about what color to put on a wall.  

So when I met with the couple I gave them my 30 second elevator speech:

"I’m going to take 15 minutes and pretend like I own your home with everything in it. I am going to to tell you what I see and feel. I will notice things that you already know about and also some things you don't—" that's when the husband stopped me mid-sentence.

He told me that he and his wife had gathered a binder full of pictures and ideas. That he would like to show those to me first. I told him that I would gladly look at the binder after I had given them my insights into what I see. I said, "Let's trust the process." He couldn't. 

I was still standing at the front door thinking to myself that FIVE OF HIS NEIGHBORS had trusted me do their homes with the same process.

As his wife kept pleading with him quietly to trust what I was doing and he began to argue with her, I stopped the conversation and politely told them I was not the right person for them. If they ever changed their minds I would be happy to come back. I quickly got in my car and left. I never got to see the inside of their home.

The next morning the wife called me and asked if I would be willing to come back, and that this time her husband would not be there. So I did. I hope that the colors I chose brought them great joy. I also hope they are still married.

I believe he was afraid that my judgment would override his. He didn't understand that in order to come up with the great results that his neighbors had had, he needed to surrender to good judgement for the greater good.