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Color Me Happy

Posted on Dec 23, 2019 in Colors of Architecture , New Urbanism , January–February 2020

Bold, bright colors on clapboard siding stimulate the senses serving to enhance the experience. Photo by Wanda Patsche

Hues can affect how you feel and act By Pratt Farmer

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions,” the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked. As one strolls through Seaside, you will notice a plethora of colors being used on houses, commercial buildings and restaurants. It should be noted that the choice of and use of color is not by happenstance. Studies suggest that people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Surprisingly, up to 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone.

When town founders Robert and Daryl Davis set out to create a little town on the Gulf of Mexico, they turned to planners and architects to develop the “look and feel” of Seaside. So as to not interfere with the emerald green waters of the Gulf, a subtle color palette for homes along the beach centered around a warm creamy color or stark white for the exterior of the homes, allowing a personal expression of color though doors and shutters.

In color psychology, white showcases innocence, goodness, cleanliness and humility. Even today, most of these homes remain in some variant of white or cream. You might say the initial direction is still prevalent some 40 years later.

As the residential streets on the north side of 30A began to take shape, homeowners were encouraged to expand their horizons, using more bold colors for exteriors. In fact, the first two homes the Davises built in Seaside were the Yellow House and Red House. Knowing the nature of sales, it was fortuitous to label the Red House as the sales center. One noted colorist says, “the red color meaning is associated with excitement, passion, energy and action.” You might’ve noticed that some brands use red for ‘order now’ buttons on their packaging as a way to stand out on the shelf. In color psychology, red is the most intense color. And thus, can provoke the strongest emotions. Without question, early visitors to Seaside found themselves drawn to the Red House. Most likely, the emotional connection to Seaside began the moment they laid eyes on that Red House.

The Davises painted their residence yellow, hence the name Yellow House. Yellow is a warm color and was an excellent choice for a home that was intended to be not only a residence, but a model home as well. The color is associated with sunshine, and evokes feelings of happiness, positivity, optimism and summer. How could one not feel these emotions on their first visit to such an idyllic place?

As more and more homes were built, it became apparent that there would be endless opportunities for self-expression through the color choices homeowners would conjure up. For instance, as you stroll down Tupelo Street you might get sensory overload as you take in the various colors. There’s baby blue, green, light yellow and taupe to name a few. In concert with the color of the house, front doors begin to speak to passersby in the form of red, turquoise, orange, deep blue, black and occasionally soft white.

What is remarkable is that even with a wide range of colors speaking to passersby, there never seems to be a conflict of perception. Due in part to the eclectic design of Seaside and the architectural control still being exercised, colors enhance each other, and we derive great benefit from the array of color displayed on every street in Seaside.

Certainly, one could argue that by simply “being at the beach” gins up positive feelings of excitement, contentment and energy; it is also the net result of every color in the rainbow and beyond being used to foster a mystique that is Seaside.

So, as you casually walk around Seaside, take note of the colors you see and think about your immediate reaction. You just might discover that you have stumbled upon a new color that evokes a new response. A response that causes you to associate with that house or that front door.