THERE IS A SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF PORTLAND, OREGON that I had the opportunity to spend some time in. If memory serves me right, at the time of this story this new development had nine lots with seven homes already built. Five of those seven homeowners hired me to do the color palettes for their homes, which is unusual, but great for seeing the differences between neighbors and finding unity between their lives. The homes all had the same “builder beige” and limited choices of carpet, tile, and pre-selected colors. Each one turned out looking like a custom job after I came along…
…And that’s why I got a phone call from Homeowner #6.
I was particularly excited to hear that the husband of Homeowner #6 had stayed home from work that day to be part of my color process. Thrilled as a matter of fact! In my experience, men are somewhat more linear in their thinking, which lines up with my own process. I like to take the emotional complexity out of color and replace it with a meaningful outcome. That is the reason my work is primarily practical and works so well with couples. A little less emotion, a bit more reasonable.
I met with Homeowner #6 and her husband and gave them my 30-second elevator spiel once we got inside:
“I’m going to take 15 minutes and pretend like I own your home with everything in it. I am going to tell you what I see and feel as we walk through it together. I will point out things you probably already know and some things you don’t. Then, we will sit down and discuss the meaning behind my observations and-”
The husband cut me off mid-sentence.
He told me that he and his wife had gathered a binder full of pictures and ideas. He was eager to discuss these first. I told him that I would gladly look at the binder once we had engaged in the process. The two of them had hired me because of how I work. I reminded him that five of his neighbors had trusted me to do the same process in their homes.
I started, “I promise that we would look at everything once I have a chance to-”
He cut me off again!
He told me he couldn’t imagine me knowing anything about them, or what they wanted, without the binder. His wife quietly pleaded with him to trust the process and reminded him that all five neighbors recommended me, he had seen excellent results firsthand.
He turned around and began to argue with her. I knew more about him in those five minutes than that binder could possibly show me. I interrupted the squabble to politely tell them I was not the right person to work with and thanked them for their time. I told them that if they ever changed their minds about my process, I would be more than happy to come back.
The next morning Homeowner # 6 called and asked if I would be willing to come back. I went back.
This time, her husband was not there, neither was the binder.