Three Times Lucky: Finding the Perfect House, Finding the Perfect Color Palette
Cozy or roomy, country or city-based, to echo Dorothy, "there's no place like home." It's where we begin each day and sleep securely at night. Everyone's home evokes different emotions and holds hosts of memories--but for most, say "home" and you are flooded with warm, comfortable thoughts of love, laughter, family, serenity and, for me, color. For me, the best canvas in the world to work out my perfect color combinations is my home.
Over the coming weeks, I want you to join me on my most recent renovation journey as I search for just the right colors to use in my old farmhouse, "The Peabody Farm."
The house dates from 1792 and stands watch over an especially interesting bend in the Hudson River, which turns to the east, to welcome the Snook Kill Creek.
Its Federal roots are only discernible by the organization of six original first floor windows and its correct, albeit backward, floor plan, which orients the house to face the river and the original road. When I first saw it, the original belvedere and porch were already missing. It was in a sorry state, but I asked myself in complete wonderment, "Could I possibly be this lucky?" How to put the house right was a concern for another time.
Of all that the house had to offer, from its generous rooms to the integrity of its timber framing, its simplicity--what I refer to as the honesty of the house--is what I have fought hard to preserve. This was a farmer's house, where the labors of the land and the care of the animals superseded a want of intricate millwork or fine finishes. There was one coat of whitewash on the clapboards, and the only exterior flourish, 60 working window shutters, I had removed. (yes, yes, I saved them--anyone need a few good shutters?)
Inside, the colors were an odd marriage of utility and color prowess, to say the least. Doors were painted persimmon, a sharp oxide yellow, or a screaming electric blue. The floors throughout, the ubiquitous red oxide of the day. Other than the cherry newel post, every other surface in the house, was white calcimine. The biggest curiosity--a (possibly) once beautiful hand screened wallpaper--I've left untouched in the third floor stair well (pending more investigation). My high hopes, of uncovering a divine historic Monticello inspired yellow, or the remains of a Hudson River School mural, were never realized. The previous owners were clearly not much for painting, nor color enthusiasts like me, and that's just fine--more space on the blank canvas.
Like me, my carpenter Fred and his crew came to respect the house, believing it had been denied its dignity for much too long. He would regularly send his entire crew home, so he could very slowly crank a jack, and then listen for the response of the aching timbers in silence. We all resisted the urge to over embellish, fix, straighten, "improve," or, worst of all, throw away anything useful. The house itself speaks a quiet truth now, reminiscent of Fred's final thoughts on the laborious restoration: "Look how proud our old girl looks." A proper mural, some historic colors suited to the era, and a few tricks of my painting trade, will have the place feeling like home in no time.
I welcome your ideas on what should happen next to a house that's been rescued from a waiting bulldozer and loved by all who have brought to it their talents. How much fixing can one house need? I've got 3361 colors to consider. Lucky, lucky me!
Next time, I'll take you inside and get you more acquainted with the house. We can sit by the fire, talk a little color, and share our renovating stories.
Stay colorful! --Lu
Talk Color: http://apps.facebook.com/bmexperts/experts/1314