When suburbs exploded here in the eighties, the builder market boomed, and suburbs were blanketed with builder white. It was a clean slate, a blank canvas that everyone could start with. And that's the problem with white canvases. Most people don't know where to start.

My clients had lived with their "builder white" for a long time and were ready for a new color in their office — as long as it was white.

I said it was not a problem as long as he recognized that the room was never really going to be white; it was always going to look gray.

Let me shed light on this matter.

Color does not produce light. It is a reflection of light and therefore needs light to be seen. People paint rooms white if it lacks light because they want the room to be light. I told him white needs light to be white. Where there is little light, there is a lot of gray, which shows up on white walls.

There was not enough light in the room to be white. The small window and shady trees outside made the existing white on the walls look about 30% gray.

The way to see light colors in low-light rooms is to put darker ones beside them. If all the colors are the same value, all light, or all dark, you will not be able to see, let alone feel, anything. 

It's the yin & yang of life; opposites sharpen differences so we can appreciate both. We needed to clean up that unmanageable unintended dirty gray cast. We replaced it with a beautiful shade of color and made our own light. 

The office became his favorite room, and you could feel why. When he hung up all these beautiful coastal prints, it was clear that the magnetic dynamic created by the wall color expanded the room into a coastal dimension where he could feel the fullness of life in that room. He was aligned with his color baggage, shadows and all.

The rest of the house didn't remain white-walled for very long. They realized they had kept the builder-white walls because they didn't know what to do. They were afraid of making a mistake. Troubled by indecision, most people settle for innocuous wall colors, safe enough to be ignored or trendy enough to not be judged.

Fear convinced them that white was the answer to their dark problem when all they had to do was call an electrician.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. -Jack Canfield


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