People used to ask me, “what’s your favorite color?” and to be honest, I was stuck for an answer. There’s lots of colors I like and few I can’t stand; I have never been a fan of pink. But a favorite – I just didn’t know. Then I bought a townhouse. Fortunately for me, the place was decorated to the hilt. It was mostly in peach and for awhile I thought maybe peach was my favorite color. Since buying my home just about broke the bank, decorating wasn’t an option so it’s a good thing I was happy with peach.
But after about two years, peach began to get old. Deciding to redo my entire home was going to be easy; I have a friend who’s a terrific house painter and he volunteered, with a little arm twisting, to paint everything. All I had to do was supply the paint. Standing at paint displays in Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, The Great Indoors, the whole thing was a blur. Then I decided to whittle down the choices.
I started at one end and began picking up paint chip cards that appealed to me. I ended up with yellows, greens, purples, and reds. The paint chip cards came home and went up on the walls. The yellows went first; they looked too blah, especially with my huge living room sliding door that opened to a large deck. The light from outside washed out the yellow. The reds were just a little too much. I love red but I didn’t think I could live with it. That left purple and green, two colors I’ve always loved. But which purple and which green and are they going to go together in the same room or what.
Since there’s a lot of greenery on my deck, I thought having green walls would help bring the outside indoors. Great – but have you any idea how many shades of green there are? I live in an area of California that gets really hot and I thought maybe something on the slightly warm side, green with a yellow undertone, would be nice. Three hours of looking for the “perfect” green left me frazzled and my painter friend totally frustrated. In desperation, I moved to the left, looking at the cooler greens with a blue undertone. Now I’m not a fan of blue but immediately the cooler greens caught my eye.
When you think about it, cool green made a lot of sense. If the house gets hot, wouldn’t I want a gool green? Of course! Within half an hour I had the perfect green, maybe. I took the perfect green and the chip on either side of it and taped them to the walls. Because my living room and dining room have light hitting them from different angles, I made certain that I saw the chips on all the walls at different times of the day.
Once I had the perfect green, I needed something to go with it. For accents, a few lavender and plum pieces might be great but what about the trim and the ceilings. Purple would look like something from the 60’s, a time I loved but would prefer to leave in the past. White is always a good choice but white can be so . . .well, white. What I found was a white with a slightly warm yellow undertone. A cool green and a warm white? That does not sound like something a Homes and Garden decorator would choose. But you know what — they looked fantastic next to each other. And when the ceilings and trim were painted and the walls finished, my living room, dining room and kitchen (I couldn’t stop at two rooms) really did look like something from one of those magazines.
As a photographer and artist, I wanted something to really make the walls pop, so I picked a large photograph from my collection. It’s called “Heaven’s Diamonds”; it’s a simple photo of leaves taken right after a rainshower. The large raindrops left on the leaves look like Harry Winston’s finest 10 carats. The kitchen – well, I couldn’t find anything, so I painted a pastel piece of a basket on a riverbank. The basket held a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine and a half-full glass, some cheese and a corkscrew. I don’t drink but the painting looked good so what the heck?
My living room has an oversized plum glass vase that sits on a glass-topped table against one of the green walls. A few photographs, the “aren’t my grandchildren gorgeous” variety, share space with the vase. And a plum and white candle in a plum glass hurricane looks great on the coffee table.
So start with a color. And if you can’t find a color you like, shift your focus slightly. If I hadn’t spent all that time convinced that I would only be happy with a warm green, I could have found my “perfect” green before my painter threatened me with great bodily harm.
And once you’ve done the first remodel, the rest is easy. My bedroom is lavender with green accents.