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8 posts from August 2011

August 08, 2011

Finding the Best Blues and Purples

Jane Dagmi


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about decorating with blue.  Inspired by a recent and joyful overdose of hydrangea plants along the California coast, I am loving many shades of blue represented in this bountiful flower from fresh French blue to a mellow heather hue and onto a vivacious violet.  Riding a hydrangea blue high, I found a few beautiful rooms whose palettes reflect my state of mind.


A Patriotic Palette in Raspberry, Cream and Cornflower


I always enjoy a stylish spin on the American patriotic palette, and that's why I went gaga for this open and airy non-kitschy gracious living room designed by Little Rock maverick Tobi Fairley.  While the furnishings and architecture reflect strong Anglo-American roots, the traditional red, white, and blue is tweaked.  Updated shades of blue are brilliant and serene and go splendidly with a more berry-ish red and creamy white.  Aptly named, Heaven on Earth 1661, seems to raise the room's ceiling, yet the impressive Chippendale lantern, a piece in Tobi's namesake home collection, keeps the space intimate and centered. Underfoot, black adds graphic goodness and a bit of punch.


Walls 926 Seashell, Trim Ivory White 925, Klismos chair San Francisco Bay 802
photos: TobiFairley.com

Heaven on Earth 1661, Raspberry Truffle 2080-10, Seashell 926, Ivory White 925, San Francisco Bay 802


Understated Chic with Faded Lavendar Blue


While purple is always high on a child's list of favorite colors, this hue in its diluted and grayed state is decidedly mature.  Pale smoky lavender blue, such as Organdy 1248, is seductive in a bedroom and modestly posh everywhere else.  Emulating the look of dried hydrangea, the faded, chalky cooled down version of a fairy tale hue feels timeless and real.  Its amethyst vibe pairs well with elegant servings of silver, gold, and white.  Mixing in weightier metals and less precious textures such as rough hewn wood and natural fibers, brings this refined ethereal shade back down to earth, and makes it a tad more man-friendly.


photos: hydrangea: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehomebird/4318565779/
bedroom: Decorpad, living room: fourwallsandaroof.com

Dreamy Cloud 2117-70, Hearthstone 1601, Dunmore Cream HC-29, Sterling 1591, Vanilla Ice Cream OC-90


La Vida Violet


Violet feels indulgent, spirited, and mostly feminine.  It is not recommended for decorating lightweights since it never goes unnoticed.  Several sophisticated steps up from little-girl pink, violet is a confident choice for a private or personal space such as a dressing room or study.  I could see it being successful in a dining room too.  Its innate redness gives it an intense, warm personality.  Too much for some, violet's vibrancy is easily tamed with white or a strong, solid neutral--such as chocolate or black.  Wildcard accents in tangerine, aqua, or olive green add a bohemian flair.


photos: hydrangea: Jane Dagmi
bottom (left to right): Steven Gambrel, Coco & Kelley, Apartment Therapy

Cranberry Ice 1362, Barrista AF-175, Marscapone AF-20, Electric Orange 2015-10

End Note: I know that I share this earth with many other hydrangea admirers, and so I wanted to make you all aware of the passionate efforts of the late Ms. Penny McHenry who became first enamored with a blue hydrangea bloom back in 1975.  From there, she spent many years learning about the various hydrangea species and cultivating them in her Atlanta garden.  In 1994, she founded The American Hydrangea Society.


photo: The American Hydrangea Society

August 04, 2011

Great Bedroom Colors

Lucianna Samu

It's probable that there are better things to dream about on a sultry August afternoon than bedroom walls that match the Mediterranean, or a bathroom painted the color of my riding instructor's Palomino horse.  Maybe cruising the Mediterranean or riding the Palomino horse.  Hopefully you are reading this post with one foot on the ground to keep your hammock rocking at your favorite summer spot.  You can thank me in September, then, for sparking your enthusiasm to plan a favorite bedroom color combination while you're surrounded by the inspiring palette of summer.


Put to a vote, the quintessential color of summer--yellow--probably ranks in the top three favorite bedroom colors.  With years of color consults behind me, I've figured out that most people feel pretty neutral about yellow, most especially an honest-to-goodness creamy yellow ochre tint, such as Weston Flax HC-5, or its more yellow neighbor, Hawthorne Yellow HC-4.  Neither will ever appear green, even in the most overcast or blue bias north-facing room.  I interchangeably call each of these yellows "Switzerland"--the most non-partisan of colors that most people feel good about and can agree on.

Hawthorne Yellow HC-4, Western Flax HC-5


I myself have no particular "always" color for the bedroom.  My husband prefers blue and I'm a green person, making my existing Hawthorne Yellow bedroom, pictured above, the default non-partisan color of compromise. Since I plan to sleep in this particular bedroom for a long time, I put an extra special amount of effort into figuring out a more exciting color compromise.  Choosing Deep Ocean 2058-30, a blue that leans ever so much toward green, but stops short of appearing the turquoise I would prefer, is a great example of how sometimes it's best to allow the space and not the occupants, to dictate the color choice.  Once again, I used my view to my color picking advantage as well.

Deep Ocean 2058-30

My first choice for my color change would have been Kendall Charcoal HC-166.  This saturated gray would be beautiful below the high ceiling, but I lacked the opportunity to add enough white, and the orangey pine floors would clash with charcoal gray.

Kendall Charcoal HC-166


This room faces due east--so gets lots of bluish morning light.  Purple would have been fabulous with in the morning light.  I'd choose a rich aubergine, like Dark Lilac 2070-30.  The floors would be so happy in the company of its purple complement.  Maybe some acid or apple green accents?  Be still my heart!  Giant white artwork and white linen drapes . . . I need to get a hold of myself; after all, I don't live alone.

Dark Lilac 2070-30, Feel the Energy 417, Candy Green 403

A richer, golden yellow, maybe Sun Kissed Yellow 2022-20, would be very luscious in this space and definitely more of a 'wow' than Hawthorne Yellow.  Brassy yellows too, some might call these the south of France yellows, soothe a morning exposure and are very beautiful for bedrooms with all-white or linen fabrics. 

Meadow View 383, Angels Trumpet 278, Sun Kissed 2022-20

So there you have it.  I re-considered all options and determined my bedroom wants to be blue.  Deep Ocean 2058-30 complements the river view, and loosely references a Revolutionary war era 'George Washington' blue.  It's a lot of color no doubt, but the high ceiling, fireplace surround, new bookshelves and large windows all provide me a spot for contrast or relief.  Think I'll add a little of both--a colorful texture to better define the fireplace, and an accent color, to reduce the high contrast of the white trim.  Think I'll be wanting to have some of Angels Trumpet 278 somewhere in the space, to lift the floor color. Lots to do, so send me any thoughts from your summer hideaway!


Stay colorful!

August 02, 2011

A House Full of Cool Colors

Lucianna Samu

I heard a news story recently which proclaimed 85 percent of the U.S. population live in air-conditioned 'circumstances.'  'Circumstances,' is probably the operative word here, and my particular circumstance is not air-conditioned.  While the debate in my house over whether the benefits of a constant breeze and fans is the equivalent of whole house climate control rages on, Grant Beige, HC-84 is adding a cooling and calming contrast to my side of the argument.  Turns out it's indisputable; you can cool a room with a cool color and improve your circumstance dramatically while you are at it.


Here in the southern Adirondack Mountains where I live, architects and builders endeavor to site a house for the most solar gain.  Makes sense, since it's mighty cold here for six months, and a sunny house is a warm house.  If you factor the landscape into the equation, the summer heat can be reduced with trees situated for shading the roof and sun glare.  If all this climate planning is done well, the result is often a house like mine, where the seasonal changes are so dramatic, the winter and summer atmospherics are equally dramatic.  My color choice, a very neutral cool beige-y-gray--Grant Beige--fixes all that and then some.

I suppose 85 percent of my visitors still think I'm crazy because I don't have air-conditioning.  I can say that 100 percent of them love the look and feel of the monochromatic and neutral surround, which I've punctuated with all the colors I love and see in the landscape.  The colors will not only warm the house again when the leaves fall, they will keep me company on a snowy winter day.  Here's a re-cap of how I worked each changing color in my landscape into my whole house palette.  You could easily do this yourself, once you begin to approach your color planning this way.

The Bonne Nuit AF635 ceiling color in the entry foyer was taken from a winter sunset view.


Budding green, grassy green and brassy winter green is reflected in small furnishings painted Paradise Hills Green 550 and accessories.


Pink dots the landscape throughout spring and summer and looks swell as a foreground color to the sweeping green lawn outside the windows.  Wild Pink 2362-40 did the trick for me!


Simplifying the kitchen palette to match my mother's china ensures a basket of red delicious apples on the counter will look just as yummy as freshly baked holiday breads.


I've referenced the whole house palette in its entirety in small details, which will make the transition to a more colorful second floor feel effortless.


My tiniest inspirational piece, the diminutive life-like sculpture of my black & white goat, acts as my single consistent core color throughout.


I've packed my paint boxes, and Andy the painter is way ahead of me on the second floor.  Hope you come see the color ideas we'll use to change the atmosphere up there?  Bedrooms are the place for very personalized color decisions, and breaking a few color rules is great fun in small guest or children’s rooms.  As usual, I'm on the hunt for inspirational references to make all my color-dreams look beautiful and feel comfortable.  So while it's cool and breezy here today, I'm already thinking about the ensuing winter debate; a thermostat set at 64 or 72 degrees!


Stay colorful!