My Favorite Color

May 24, 2011 — 31 Comments

When the question was posed – “What is your favorite color?” I instantly thought that many people have a favorite color – but I don’t think I do.


Could it be brown?


‘Why is that’ you ask? It’s because I am a highly trained to move beyond my own color predilections and I choose my favorite color based on application and I don’t have a default color – or so I would like to think. I spent the weekend thinking about this very question – what is my favorite color? I am a problem solver so I set to solving this problem.

<shouting> “Kate! Come here, I have a very important question to ask you!”

Kate“Hi Daddy.”

Me: “What would you say is my favorite color?”

Kate: “Red. Blue….Green?

Me: “You’re just guessing.”

Kate: “It’s purple, definitely purple. Or pink”

Me: “Those are your favorite colors.”

Kate: <smiley face> “They are pretty good aren’t they?”


Dang, that didn’t really help. So let’s turn to the evidence at hand. First up … my closet. The problem here is that this data is polluted because despite the fact that I have impeccable taste and style, I stopped dressing myself when I got married.  I hate clothes shopping so if it weren’t for my wife, I would wear my clothes until they looked like zombie dressing (dirty beyond cleansing and full of holes, not covered in blood and brain matter) and on the verge of falling apart. I’d like to pretend that the areas that wear through first are the bits where people would actually want to see what’s underneath but we all know that isn’t true. No, the only clothes I buy these days are socks, underwear, and t-shirts – and those are all either white or black. Thanks closet, you didn’t help me at all.

What’s up next? I turned my highly trained eye towards my house and it’s bounty of data riches. Oh-oh -everything of size or substance in my house is brown or some shade of beige. I didn’t select any of the the existing finishes but I haven’t ever felt like they were so dated and terrible that they needed replacing. That’s when the light bulb went off above my head and I realized that I have my own color theory – the Bob Borson ‘Theory of Neutrals’.

My ‘Theory of Neutrals” falls in line with most tenants of modernist thinking. An easy analogy would be to say that everything should be a square until it shouldn’t be. Anything other than that is self-indulgent, temporary popular thinking. You see a lot of this sort of thing in retail environments, which was a project type that I used to spend a lot of time working on. We would basically create a white box so that the products, millwork, displays and merchandise provide the color and interest. Since those temporary items will change seasonally and from year to year, instead of constantly renovating your environment, use the items to set the tone and mood for the space.

As I look around my house … and it’s happening everywhere … I have a lot of exposed wood and white plaster walls inside my house, this means brown + white. Then I look at the throw pillows on the couch – you’ll find teal, orange, and gold. I even have an orange glass lamp. The rugs on the floor have color, the art on the walls have color, linens, towels, blankets – tons of stuff has color … but the walls are white and most of the furniture is some shade of brown.

So I suppose I do have a favorite color and it isn’t very exciting. It’s brown – although I like to party with white and black on my personal billboard. I know it’s not very exciting and I fall into the stereotypical dress uniform of most aesthetically and color challenged architects but c’mon! Have you ever seen me? I’ve had white-ish/ clear hair since my late twenties so black is a strong option regardless of my profession.

If you are color challenged, or subscribe to my extremely valid “Theory of Neutrals”, here are some colors for you to use this fall. I’m letting you know now so you can be on the look-out for them when it comes time to update you Den with some new pillows or something.

Pantone Fall 2011 Ladies Colors


According to the Pantone Fashion Fall Color Report 2011, these are the colors for women in the know come this fall.


Pantone Fall 2011 Mens Colors


And here is the list of hot fall colors for men. Pretty much the same colors with the exception of 3. But what do I care, my wife will be selecting my clothes for me – although I don’t have to wear anything that looks like ‘raspberry wine 18-1741’.


My head is starting to hurt … too much color for me.



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  • Ceci Pipe

    Our favourite colours are those that we feel comfortable with, but those colours change based on who we know, what we do, who we are, our surroundings, our hoped for surroundings, basically everything that isn’t colour seems to determine what we like.

    So my favourite is currently blue’ish, it was purple, before that a sort of grey, and after this… I’m starting to like pale reds and dark browns. For personal usage of course, otherwise it’s whatever is appropriate and/or demanded.

  • brown has always been my favorite color 🙂

  • Jessie

    ohhhh!  I think you should give 18-1741 a chance!!! 🙂  

  • clipping path

    You have done a great work these is very nice

  • Charlie Burris

    As per your request (Bob) I’ll offer an online response for the world to see.  I read your blog on your favorite color over Mexican food the other night and considered my own perspective on this issue.  I started out when young telling everyone without pause that red was my favorite color.  I have no idea where this came from since I was always very quiet and shy, perhaps my alter-ego!  Later I changed the response to blue.  Looking back this may have been because I figured out that everyone said I looked good in blue because of my blue eyes (response to environment)!  As an adult and architect I think my particular definition of favorite colors became more complex tones rather than fairly primary ones.  I have often thought that my job has surely altered my personality over the years in many ways, particularly changing me from quiet and shy to much more outspoken and extroverted, a stronger personality.  Maybe my favorite color will revert to red….but a more complex version of red!

    • Charlie – great examination. I sort of expect that as people age, their response to particular colors change – maybe even come full circle. If a more red is where you are heading towards, maybe it will have a fancy name as well – like “Antelope Fire Mist”

      Does that sound like a mature persons favorite color? I don’t know but it would be fun to tell people that’s your favorite color.


      • jbushkey

        I don’t know about mature, but it doesn’t sound like a mans favorite color (this coming from a man whose favorite dress shirt is pink).  Replacing mist with a different word could go a long way toward rectifying the situation.

  • I love it!  You did a fantastic job on this post.  I wanted to read all the way to the end.  🙂

    • Thanks – I’m glad I could keep you interested through one of infamous overly long posts. At times I think if I did write them shorter, everybody would win.

  • Raina @ If the Lamp Shade Fits

    My favorite color is green, but I have almost no green in my house. Odd that.

    • all you need to do is open your front door and (literally) a world of green is at your doorstep.

  • I can hardly wait for the first time I accidentally phlox myself with a new shirt or something. Brown is the color of coffee. I like coffee. Coffee liqueur is probably even tastier. Can I eat clothing? But I probably can spill coffee on a pair of brown pants and get away with it… I dunno… I’m adrift….

    • Brown is the color of almost all the tasty foods but if you needed further evidence to the power of brown, it is also the color of 83%* of all dogs.

      * I made this number up but think I’m pretty close

  • My husband sticks to the neutrals as well and combats my little problem of a five-year obsession with green and purple. Mind, only my living room reflects this combination, but I have to fight the impulse to continue the pairing throughout the entire house. Good thing we ladies have got you neutral dudes to keep us in check!

    • add a little gold and you could have your own Mardi Gras festival!

      I’m glad I could neutrally impact your own personal living situation – I’m here to help.

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  • I’m with you on clothes shopping.  My wife takes all of that very seriously, and I don’t much give a damn, so to keep the peace not long after we got married I told her to just go buy me whatever she wanted me to wear.  I have shopped for my own clothes for 35 years!

    • It has worked out pretty well so far. I have a few rules that my wife knows (no labels on the outside – I’m not someone else’s branding billboard) and other than that, she has excellent taste! (obviously…)

  • Kim

    Deep teal always makes me think of Julia Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur, CA.

    Also love pink of Texas grapefruit flesh, and the orangy sunset color of a ripe apricot’s skin.

    • Julia Pfeiffer State Park is amazingly beautiful although I have never been – just seen pictures from the one time I thought I might be able to take a trip out to Big Sur.
      One day maybe…

      Thanks for taking time to comment Kim, I appreciate it.

  • Jerme4

    This post reminds me of myself.  I too think of colors in context, and don’t truely have a favorite. But when people (mainly my daughters) ask me, I say brown.

    • Hah!

      I kept pestering my daughter about it last night and finally she said blue because I wear that color to work more than any other color. Factually she is correct so points for being observant.

  • jbushkey

    What does it say about me that I noticed “17-1544” is actually burnt sienna not raspberry wine?

    • I don’t know what you are talking about

      (you do know that I can go back and fix things right? … not that there was anything wrong of course)

  • I chickened out of this week’s blog off.

    It melted my brain. It’s sad, I know.

    Enjoyed your post, though!

    • Thanks! 

      This topic was harder than I expected, at least if you tried to really answer the question. 


  • Bob

    doesn’t the preponderance of beige signify an impending mid-life crisis?  Thought I read that somewhere…

    • there is some data to support your theorem: 
      Mid-life? probably. 
      Crisis? Unlikely