7 Home Color Tips from a ‘Color Whisperer’

Jeanette Chasworth is a designer who specializes in color and the author of the newly published book, What’s Color Got To Do With it? She is often called a “color whisperer.” She can go into a room and communicate with it, intuiting the colors that are needed based on the client’s desires and the messages she picks up from all of the objects in the room.

Having worked with energy in my own Feng Shui practice for many years, I love the way that she sees color as a way to energetically shift the room so that her clients feel as if the room is embracing them. She likens it to the way you feel in your favorite outfit…”as if you can do anything. That’s what you should feel in your home,” Jeannette continued, “empowered, relaxed, happy. What does a hug feel like? Safe, warm, and comforting.† Your home can do that for you too.”

Jeanette’s most asked question is how a client can change their space for the least amount of money. The answer is always color, which is often something that can leave people feeling stuck when working on their home.

I asked Jeanette to tell me about the emotional and physical effects of color and to talk about color do’s and dont’s:

“Color affects us every day. It can drain you, make you hungry, calm you down, or invigorate you. We all have color in our homes and how we use it affects our lives. We all have unique personalities and so does color. Every color can create a certain “energy” in a room and it needs to match the people in it.

I often get clients that are in a place of change…new home, new career, or even someone who has died. Our homes are a mirror of who we are and when there’s a change in our lives, we need to reflect it in our home.† I have found it really helpful in people dealing with the last stages of grief. They are rediscovering who they are and have to make some changes in order to find that person. Some take the opportunity to finally get a piece of furniture they always wanted or to create their dream kitchen or bathroom. Combining old memories and making room for new memories is really important.”

What are seven color do’s and don’ts that you run into most often that might help us in choosing color for our own homes?

1. Don’t Paint Your House White Because You Don’t Know What to Do: Somewhere, somehow we got the idea that a white house was perfect. It made the house seem bigger and look fresh and clean.†Well, maybe, but it’s also hard to keep that way, and most people like a little more color in their lives. Do you dress in all white every day, or eat all white food every day? Most likely not; as humans, we want variety. Your home is no different.

2. Don’t Pick a Color Because it’s Trendy: You need to pick a color for YOU!

3. Don’t Paint for Resale: Too many people paint with the idea of resale in mind. This works if you are actually selling the house immediately but often that’s not the case. Would you go out on the street and give the next person walking buy all the money for your remodel project? That’s what you are doing if you design just for resale.†You don’t know what the next person will like or who they are, so how can you pick something that they will buy? Look around your home — how much have you changed from the previous owner? †† Typically people live in a house for several years. It’s important that it fits who you are and your needs first, not the next people who may buy it.

4. Don’t Play it Safe Just to Be Safe: Many people will select light colors or pastels because they think they will make it look bigger. This is a huge myth. It’s not how dark or light a room is but it’s how much light the paint reflects. A barely off-white blue can suck light out of a room.

Always get a sample and always paint a large sample on the wall, particularly in doorways where you can see into the next room. See how the color changes throughout the day because it will. Test it to see how much light is reflected; the one that reflects light is the one that will make your room look bigger.

5. Do Be Bold: Don’t be afraid to go into the middle of the paint sample strip. Most people play it safe with the lighter colors at the top – the first or second sample. Don’t be afraid to look at the third, fourth, and fifth samples. Don’t be afraid to have accents of the darkest colors at the bottom.

You are an amazing and unique person and it’s important that the colors on your walls have as much character as you do.†Are you bold? Go bold! Don’t be afraid. Reach into that inner you and askÖ what color am I?

6. Do Look Up at the Ceiling: This is the forgotten element of most homes. Most people think it needs to be white, and when asked why, the answer is always, “It’s supposed to be white.” Says who? Start really looking around you when you are in public places and you will see a lot of other colors. You can paint it a lighter shade of your wall, the same color as your wall, or if you want, something really bold – darker than the walls. Just think about doing something a little different and see how much it changes your room.

7. Do Think About What Mood You Want to Create: Color creates a mood and each color has specific moods that it creates. Think about how the room will be used, how you want to feel in it. Do you want to relax or do you want to re-energize? Color can influence all kinds of things from how much you eat to how much you sleep. Use it as your friend to improve your life.

Stay tuned for Part II of my interview with Jeanette: Using Color and Design to Make a Small Room Look Bigger

Jeanette Chasworth is the author of the book What’s Color Got To Do With It? and is an Interior Designer and Color specialist living in Monrovia, CA. You can visit Jeanette’s web site at www.TheColorWhisperer.com Her book is available at www.TheColorWhisperer.com and www.amazon.com. Photos courtesy of Jeanette Chasworth from her design portfolio.

How to Use the Power of Color
Home Feng Shui Color Guide
Using Color to Empower Your Life


Sonia M
Sonia M5 months ago

Great article with useful tips.Thanks for sharing

Jane R.
Jane R3 years ago

I'm inspired now. A few months ago I had the living-room, two bedrooms and my long hall repainted. Since they were white to begin with I stayed with white. I would have liked to change colors or at least paint one wall a different color but I didn't have anyone to help me decide on what color. The ceilings are also white. I wish I had someone to help me pick out colors for each room.

Kirsten B.
Past Member 5 years ago

Great tips!
I'm really looking forward to becoming a home owner instead of renter (most common way of living here in Germany) so that we can have something other than white! France was also white in the places we rented. After 19 years of white I am more than ready for other colours!!!

Olivia S.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks Erica. I have always been sensitive to color without understanding the "science" behind it. I dated a man who was involved with theater...lighting and set design.He taught me a bit about how different colors effect us. I was surprised to hear that orange tends to make people hungry and that's why a lot of fast food restaurants have a lot of shades of orange everywhere. I was very glad to hear the British designer Laurence Llewlyn-Bowen say that every room should have a little red in it, as red is my favorite color and I use it a lot in accents, especially in winter as it raises the temperature of the room.

CAROL H5 years ago

Great article thank you so much so much good info.

Daphne H.
Daphne H5 years ago


Kath R.
Kath P5 years ago

I'm planning to downsize in the near future. I wasn't sure if I should paint our house to sell but thanks to you I'm going to leave the rooms the way they are.

Alicia N.
Alicia N5 years ago

Cool as usual Dear Erica.

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

The interior is important too. I have a large bachelor and after quitting smoking and drinking [three years and six years respectively] I reorganized my life. I threw out all the extemperaneous stuff. I broke down the bookcase and hutch and made wall shelves out of them. The reason I waited three years to paint is because it takes three years for the smoke to sweat out of the drywall.
It is large and gets the rising and setting sun. I thought since I do a lot of reading and thinking I would paint it a pale yellow with white ceilings and trim. Yellow supposedly is an intellectually stimulating color.
Put a little thought into what you want to do. Each color has a meaning and it is just as important as the energy composition and pattern. Thanks.

Jekaterina Dancheva-Ustri

Thank you! A very interesting approach.