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7 posts from June 2011

June 06, 2011

How to Use Yellow

Jane Dagmi

For such a cheerful color, yellow can be surprisingly hard to use.  Maybe it's just a little too sunny and overpowering.  But recently, I fell in love with bright yellow again.  It happened while touring The Bonnet House, once a sprawling Florida 1920's home and now a Ft. Lauderdale museum and popular site for artists.  From every vantage point, yellow provides exclamation to architecture, ironwork, and trim and asserts its golden joy throughout the house.


The lucky inhabitants of this 35-acre Caribbean-inspired enclave were artists. Painter Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second wife Evelyn Fortune Lily loved primary colors and sought to decorate every surface.  Using bold brush strokes and painterly trompe-l'oeil finishes, Bartlett transformed a concrete block compound into a magical dwelling.  Linda Schaller, Bonnet's Education Director, confirms that the color palette is indeed original!



top right: exerior of Bonnet House with statue and yellow door--
bottom left: http://jesslikeslists.blogspot.com

The doors of the Bonnet House are painted sunshine yellow, and the feeling is warm and lively and welcoming.  It's a bright idea that translates well to any front door.  When it comes to painting the exterior, bold yellow accents provide a tasteful serving of 'WOW,' especially when placed beside neutral materials such as glass, brown river rock, or gray siding.  I spied the last house on the right while roaming the streets of Seattle this past fall.  To me the distinctive yellow and gray exterior is an expression of the Northwest climate with fervent hope for more sunshine!


top: Bonnet House Shell Museum and Music Room courtesy of Bonnet House--
bottom: yellow barn door--http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/idea-houses/texas-idea-house-2009-00400000050550/page31.html

Cheerful 354, Thundercloud Gray 2124-40

Yellow can bring its energy indoors where it also benefits from pairing up with a neutral, like brown or gray.  In a gray and yellow scheme, be sure to add black for definition and drama, add white for calm, crisp relief, and a dose of bling to feel glamorous but not too over the top!  At Bonnet, the Bartletts used this harmonious palette to gussy up a music room and to showcase a prized shell collection.  In more contemporary settings, the yellow-gray color palette looks just as swell.

Yellow Roses 353, Bluebelle 2064-60, Tricycle Red 2000-20


I've already referred to Barlett's zest for primary colors, and now . . . Ta Da!!! . . . you see it!  This triumvirate color foundation is so secure, that one can tweak the shades and play with the proportions, and unfailingly create a chic well-designed room.  Beyond bold Mondrian hues, I'm loving lemon yellow wedged in with powdery blue and lipstick red.

Happy shades of yellow are on my radar, and I'm finding that a lot of my friends feel likewise.  I'm currently designing a yellow bedroom and was very excited when I came upon this vintage modern dresser.


I also got excited (and my quest validated) when I found this quote from Dorothy Draper: "Be sure your yellow is not a namby-pamby creamy type that borders on the tan.  It doesn't pay to tip toe around a room with a washed out color."

June 02, 2011

A Quick Kitchen Storage Makeover

Lucianna Samu

Being organized in the kitchen may be about time and discipline, but it always feels like it's about having one more cabinet.  Determined to transform an open display pantry into a place to stash the red Tupperware and Macaroni and Cheese box I prefer to keep out of sight, I've cooked up a paint solution.  What's more, my husband will never again be in trouble for forgetting where to put the soup cans, labels facing forwards please . . .


I haven't consulted the NKBA on this, but I think it's safe to estimate that the average American kitchen has twenty running feet of cabinets and counter surface.  Compared to, oh, say, Julia Child's kitchen, that's a whole lot of space.  So, for the sake of keeping the conversation organized, let's assume we're storing our kitchen gadgets and food in 300 square feet of space.  Seems like that should do. . . . unless, of course, all the storage is open.  I've been loath to complain about my kitchen, but my open shelf design requires an awful lot of neatness.  So it's instant hidden storage, and enduring peace and harmony in a sort of messy pantry cabinet, thanks to a new take on an enduring paint technique called verre eglomise.


The Italians have been painting on the back of glass since the 13th century.  I figure polyurethane products have come a long way since the time when all roads led to Rome, so I thought I'd have a go at painting the front side of glass.  Ordinarily, I would prepare glass for paint using a chemical specifically formulated for glass.  I did not set out to "key," or etch, glass willingly with polyurethane.  But the cabinet guys sprayed the entire cabinet door with poly, glass and all, and I've tried everything I know, short of paint stripper to remove it.  A polyurethane etching . . . hhmm.  Well, it's been subjected to every cleaner and abrasive for a few years now and no amount of washing, with orange, blue, green, or powdered detergent, has compromised the adhesion of the poly to the glass.  A good enough result for me to move ahead and stop worrying about the paint staying put over the glass!


Andy got the straight painting of the door out of the way with two coats of Soft Chamois OC-13, a match to the existing painted kitchen cabinets.

Soft Chamois OC-13


Now, for verre eglomise, the back of the glass would be painted--often a complicated, layered design done in reverse.  But here's Esmond going right over the front of the etched glass using matte Aura Stonecutter 2135-20.

Stonecutter 2135-20


Stencils make me dizzy so I had the stencil custom made by Victoria Larsen Stencils to fit between the door muntins, and put my time to better use, fine tuning the color options.


Over two coats of the nearly black Stonecutter, we added a coat of Benjamin Moore's Studio Finish in Bronze.  This would form the grid pattern in the stencil, which the stencil is covering in this picture.  Getting dizzy just explaining this . . .


Playing with some colors on paint can tops--ahh, the instant sample making tricks we use to get things figured out!


Here's something else I never do either--make a sample right on the wall or the thing I'm going to paint.  Glad I have Esmond my artist friend and true fan of the wild side of paint techniques around for moral support!  The white is sort of interesting and then we tried Blueberry 2063-30 over the Bronze.

Blueberry 2063-30


While we all love the blue, which has an added highlight, it's a little glam, too much for my all-white kitchen concept.  Esmond suggested black and got right to it.  We stood debating all three colors for a good long while, and added the designer's trick of consulting our fabric selection for reference.  Surprise, surprise, the black and bronze won out.  Which would you have picked?



Two coats of low luster Stays Clear Polyurethane, brushed over the stencil work, will ensure the paint will endure the constant assault of cleaning.  As I'm writing this, I've decided I will actually do a Verre Eglomise in a very 'now' way.  Watch for that!


Next time, I'll show you my absolutely favorite grey, which you'll want to add to your list of go-to colors for the kitchen.

Stay colorful!