The Stories Behind Our Favorite Colors

By: Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams Photos by: Justin Hackworth

Altitude Design engages bloggers from many walks of life who cover a multitude of subjects, but there's one thing everyone has in common -- we all love color.

Whether you write about home design, crafting, fashion or another personal passion, color influences each of us in one way or another. It impacts the look of the spaces we live in, the foods we we eat, the clothes we wear, and the trends and observations we can't wait to share with others. But what draws us to certain colors?

Here are the stories behind our favorite colors and what they tell us about ourselves.

Real Red (SW 6868). The expression “Paint the Town Red” originated in the 1880s by wild partying cowboys of the American West. It’s associated with taking action and being noticed. Red showcases our zest for life, stirring up appetites in today’s modern kitchens, home decor and endless products that impact the eye and mind.

Pink Flamingo (SW 0080). One in four U.S. homes from 1936 to 1966 had a pink bathroom, an expression of post World War II exuberance. Pink signifies love, femininity, nurturing and gentleness. Today Pink Flamingo is making a comeback as a retro color, along with other variations of pink including salmon, coral, hot pink, fuchsia, blush and rose. 

Daisy (SW 6910). With its stimulating effect on the mind, this bright yellow originated from the Old English expression “day’s eye,” for the way a flower opens at dawn. Many people have used Daisy yellow in a child’s room, given its cheerful, energetic vibe. Yellow also stimulates mental activity, making it a good choice for rooms used for studying.

Escapade Gold (SW 6403). Gold became popular in Depression-era homes to add a feeling of richness in difficult times. Today Escapade Gold provides the perfect patina to complement the wildly popular animal prints and tortoise colors found in fashions and furniture. 

Electric Lime (SW 6921). Christopher Columbus is said to have introduced limes to America, starting a love for this bright green hue. Representing growth and new beginnings, it’s a reminder of nature’s promise and vitality. In homes, the color brings funky energy to a teen’s room. In consumer products, it perks up everything from cars to guitars.

Teal Stencil (SW 0018). Part warm and part cool, teal has the ability to convey both energy and tranquility at the same time. It was popular in the 1950s and ‘60s and is coming back in makeup, home products and décor. Teal paint is also great for refreshing wood furniture.

Orchid (SW 0071). The delicate orchid flower was associated with luxury in the Victorian era as a symbol of rare and fragile beauty. It was also associated with mature charm and wisdom, which made it popular for Mother’s Day flowers. Today, the color Orchid evokes an Art Deco or 1980s mod look.

Mandarin (SW 6891). This color gained its name from the bright orange robes of the mandarins, public officials of the Chinese Empire. It’s also associated with the orange fruit from Southeast Asian tropical forests. This color blends beautifully with neutrals, creating an exciting presence that spices up our lives.  

Blue Sky (SW 0063). And lastly, how can anyone live without a beautiful blue? In the old South, porch ceilings were painted sky blue to protect the home from evil spirits. Today, blue has more serene connotations of peace, loyalty, trust and relaxation. It calms us, just as the ocean or the sky does for our psyche -- something we all need every day.

Whatever colors you're drawn to, and for whatever reason, let them inspire your own stories.

Jackie Jordan is director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. For more information and color inspiration, visit

Alt Chat Wednesday: Color

Love color as much as we do? Join the Alt community this Wednesday morning at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET for an hour-long chat about color, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. Sherwin-Williams will be giving two lucky participants a $100 gift card. Simply follow along by searching for the #AltChat hashtag on your favorite Twitter client. Participate by answering questions posed by @AltSummit and including both the #AltChat and #SWColor hashtags.

Want to win one of two $100 Sherwin-Williams gift cards? Here are the details:

  1. Join the #AltChat on July 16 from 9 - 10 AM PDT, if you can.
  2. Every tweet using the hashtags #AltChat and #SWColor will be entered to win one of two $100 gift cards from Sherwin-Williams. You can tweet once or tweet 17 times, each is another chance to win.
  3. Tweet all day! All tweets related to and using the hashtags #AltChat #SWColor will be entered to win from 9 AM - 5 PM PDT. You must use both hashtags.
  4. Two winners will be randomly selected and announced on Twitter Wednesday night before midnight PDT. The winners will also be listed here. 

Never participated in a Twitter Chat before? Visit this previous post for a few pointers on how to join a Twitter Chat.

UPDATE: Heidi Gustad @HandsOccupied and Maria Pinkelton @MPinkelton are our winners. Congrats!

This post was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams.