Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Have Color, Will Travel

 "Colour is my day long obsession, joy and torment."         
                          - Claude Monet

What color are your walls? With beiges and tans being the most popular interior wall colors, you most likely have variations of these too. These colors are easy on the eye and can lend itself to pretty much all design tastes from modern to contemporary to traditional. They are the color of sun-bleached earth, wet sand and smooth pebbles; foggy minds at daybreak and at the end of an exhausting day.

These colors--grays, tans, beiges, taupes--are sometimes called heritage colors. Most people are naturally drawn to them perhaps because they are the colors of grounded-ness (think earth), and comfort (think bread). There is something intrinsically satisfying about something that is the color of an old faded photograph, a yellowed love letter, a favorite leather shoe, creased and worn from years of use. Still, too much in a room can put you to sleep. When there is nothing in a visual that allows our eyes and brain to shift focus, things get pretty boring. As our vision moves from one corner of a room to the next we naturally search for a focal point, or a spot for eyes to rest. 

How to liven and spice things up? Heritage colors are lifted when paired with rich, jewel-toned brights such as berry, emerald and deep turquoise.
                                                          Below: Jade Turbo Shell, $9.95 each, "Waiting" by Andy Warhol print, $39.95, Lazy throw in peacock, $59.95, all from Z Gallerie.  
Paint colors used above: Curio Gray (no. 0024) and Radish (no. 6861) by Sherwin-Williams  
Nature spot: The Flowerfields at Carlsbad CA, open this year from March 1-May 1. Visit      

If a more traditional, quieter mood is what you crave, pair your neutrals with dustier, grayed-down tones such as sage, deep purples such as plums and aubergines and midnight blue.      

Above: Dried artichoke vase filler, $24 Pottery Barn,
Wood Vase Collection, $15-24, ,
Paint colors used above: Biltmore Buff (no. 7691) and Shearaton Sage (no. 0014) by Sherwin-Williams
Nature spot: Anza Borrego Desert State Park CA,
Catch cooler temps and wildflower season
during late winter and early spring.

When in doubt and in need of inspiration, look to nature. The most satisfyingly perfect color combos--azure skies and deep brown earth, the golden yellow and green of a sunflower, the silver and peach insides of a seashell--are found in nature. 

Below: Etched Square silk pillow cover, $34.00, . Paint colors used above: Gambol Bold (no. 6690), Cachet Cream (no. 6365) and Terra Brun (no. 6048) by Sherwin-Williams. Nature spot: Yucaipa, CA. Proof that we do get autumn over here! Visit  from mid-September to late-October to see the leaves turn and go apple-picking. and