To take advantage of Visible Light Communication (VLC) for low-power applications, such as IoT tags, researchers have been developing systems to modulate (backscatter) ambient light using LC shutters. Various approaches have been explored for single-pixel transmitters, but without following a principled approach. This has resulted in either relatively low data rates, short ranges, or the need for powerful artificial light sources. This paper takes a step back and proposes a more theoretical framework: ChromaLux. By considering the fundamental characteristics of liquid crystals (birefringence and thickness), we demonstrate that the design space is way larger than previously explored, allowing for much better systems. In particular, we uncover the existence of a transient state where the switching time can be reduced by an order of magnitude without lowering the contrast significantly, improving both range and data rate. Using a prototype, we demonstrate that our framework is applicable to different LCs. Our results show significant improvements over state-of-the-art single-pixel systems, achieving ranges of 50 meters at 1 kbps and with bit-error-rates below 1%.