I'm experiencing one such moment now. I can clearly remember why I thought those Farrow and Ball colours were tasteful and quite attractive. And yet I've decided they look somehow dated, even somehow quite revolting. We do this and we feel it's one of those things that marks us out as individuals: "I love this"; "I hate this"; "I just do, I'm like that". But when we express our taste preferences about something that is so widely consumed as paint we are usually at our least individual; more often than not, we're a mere cipher for the culture.
There are a couple of places that always bring home to me how specific is our appreciation of colour. I enjoy colour anyway and these are places where it's inescapable. However, the palette seems rather outlandish to our eyes and might even, perhaps, be considered in bad taste. My guess is that to contemporaries they would have been unsettling initially but then matured into the epitome of good, mainstream taste.
The wonderful picture below (from here) is a great reminder of how the old days were a lot less drab than we tend to assume. It's the Victorian-era Smithfield market which was re-painted in its original vibrant colours a few years ago. It's a combination we would never dream of putting together today. In good taste or bad?
Here's another favourite place of extreme colour: the upstairs drawing room at the Sir John Soane Museum. It's south-facing (I think) and when the sun's in the right spot, the room envelopes you in sunshiny, lemon yellow. The scheme dates from the early-nineteenth century and has recently been restored: the shade is called Patent Yellow. Again probably something not considered terribly tasteful today. But how could Sir John Soane be lacking in taste?
Finally, one that I thought that was of a piece with the others, but apparently not. Worth looking at anyway just because it's so ususual. I thought Albert Bridge was another example of a Victorian structure being restored to its original - and, to our eye, quite strange - colours following its restoration in the early 1990s. However, it turns out the current scheme was an innovation designed to protect the fragile structure from collisions by making it more visible to river traffic. The purely functional justification makes its exuberant cake-icing appearance even more extraordinary.