Color Shock: Are You a Victim?

Home Stager with FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor


Color Shock Definition: A state of distress and trauma directly resulting from a recent paint color change regarding a space or area inside or outside your home.Color Shocked Woman in Her Kitchen


Who is susceptible to Color Shock? Anyone who has lived in their home for some time and has grown very used to seeing and living with their former paint color.


What are the symptoms of someone afflicted with Color Shock? The first sign of an oncoming attack of color shock is evident by a firm denial that the paint in the can or on the chip is the same color that has been painted on the walls.  The afflicted person will dig the color chip (that they chose from the paint store display) out of their car or purse, swearing the color is wrong, only to place it against the fresh paint and become baffled at how it blends right in.  Often, they will insist that the room needs to be repainted. 


Persons suspected to be in the throes of Color Shock are often seen repeatedly going into paint stores all over town collecting numerous paint chips and small cans of paint and bringing them home. They often harass friends, neighbors, and family for their opinions, but can't make a final decision.


What is the Prognosis for people who suspect they, or their loved ones, are battling a case of Color Shock? The prognosis for Color Shock is actually pretty good.  All symptoms  (including the denial, compulsive behaviors, and mild to moderate dementia)  slowly subside without treatment of any kind.  The vast majority of cases resolve on their own within 10-14 days.  In almost every known case, all symptoms are completely gone within 30 days.


Why do so many people worldwide suffer from this alarming condition? Initially, researchers thought is was some additive or chemical in the paint, because it is so pervasive, and each documented case followed such a similar and predictable pattern of symptoms and behaviors, Another archaic theory was that it was bacterial or viral in origin, because sometimes, entire households have been affected.  Today, however, it is widely accepted that Color Shock is neither caused by a a chemical reaction, allergic reaction, nor is it a communicable pathogen.


What is  the cause of Color Shock and how can It be prevented? Color Shock occurs when the human brain has acclimated mentally to the way a space appears to the human eye. This happens when someone lives with a wall color for a long time. A mental snapshot of the room is retained deep within the tissue of the memory centers on the brain. When fresh paint in a different color is introduced to the space, some brains cannot reconcile the old color, in their memory, with the new color on the wall. Every time they walk into the freshly painted space, they are re-traumatized with this mental expectation to see the "old" color, but instead experience a new and different color. It happens most often with vast color changes, but even small variations can cause a reaction of disdain.


I think I am Suffering a From a Form of Color Shock. What Do I Do? The best way to determine if you are a victim of color shock is to invite a person into the space that has never been to your home or who visits infrequently. If they walk into the offending space and their jaw doesn't drop, they  do not gasp in horror, they do not physically recoil away from the walls, and they continue chatting and behaving in a socially acceptable manner, you can pretty much bet that you are simply a victim of Color Shock.


Do not call emergency medical services. 

You will be just fine in a few more days.   



~Michelle Molinari

Comments (9)

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Ha Ha good one Michelle!  I've come across a few victims of Color Shock and you're right -- most of them feel much better in a week or two!

Jan 09, 2012 06:59 AM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Hi Maureen,

Yes, they almost always do! Thanks for commenting!


Jan 09, 2012 07:09 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Michelle- a good one.  I had a case of Color Shock about 30 years ago when the can of "ever-so-soft" peach ended up coming out tangerine!  

Jan 09, 2012 12:02 PM
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Hi Michelle--for me, the clients who suffer the most Color Shock are the ones who have been living with white or off-white walls for years.  Any color (or even the suggestion of color) starts the Color Shock.  Fortunately, as you write, they all do recover . . .  and live happily ever after!

Jan 09, 2012 05:38 PM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts


Taupe is extremely versatile. I'll bet your greens and blues look fabulous paired with it.

Jan 10, 2012 03:26 AM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts


I had a very successful peach going on at my beach house. When I took that idea to my next house, it was a disaster! My walls were straight-up Barbie Leg Orange. I never, ever got over the color shock of that one. I hated it.

Jan 10, 2012 03:29 AM
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts


Yes, I completely concur. It;s funny how some people avoid color entirely and some people embrace it (a little too much sometimes!). It's that happy medium that we stagers endeavor to achieve.

Jan 10, 2012 03:31 AM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Mowha.  I don't know what that means, but it's the word I had to type in to post this, so it must mean something.

I think your blog post is very Mowha......and funny!

Jan 12, 2012 11:03 AM