I adore colors. I love them in paint, in fabric, in nature, or just in little swatches in a Pantone book. Whenever I find things arranged in a rainbow in Target or some other store, I immediately feel compelled to buy one (and then I’m sad later when I only have the one color and the rainbow effect is ruined). I also like yammering on about colors to anyone who will listen–debating the relative merits of Sephora’s “Break a Leg-Warmer” versus Essie’s “Chinchilly” or Valspar’s “Angel Touch” versus Benjamin Moore’s “November Rain.” Since I design things for a living, it’s good that I’m enthusiastic. The problem is, this is the average reaction I get when I babble about colors:
I think it’s a symptom of most professions that we assume other people are interested in the same things we are. To me, it’s obvious that “chartreuse” is vastly different from “lime” and Futura is far superior to Century Gothic and oh, now we’re on to typefaces and dear God when is she going to shut up I don’t care about any of this! There’s a reason I named my adorable pet rats Arial and Helvetica.
As I travel around the Internet and daydream about our future house (and devote hours to obsessively Pinning ideas for it) I find my eyeballs fighting with my personality. I see a lovely house in classic, soft neutrals, and I think that looks so tranquil. It’s like a Pottery Barn catalog. For a moment I’m totally sucked into a fantasy of living amongst shades of brown and grey, with little rattan ottomans (ottomen?) and baskets everywhere. Then I look at the things I actually added to my inspiration board and realize how not-me that look is. Regardless of how classy and grownup and comfortable and livable it is, my heart just isn’t in it. What makes my pulse race is visual drama, vibrant colors and funky patterns. I love the unexpected and I love a sense of humor in decorating. I realized I don’t want to look around and sigh contentedly; I want to look around and gasp, or chuckle, or get excited. I want colors that won’t be in style fifteen years down the line. I want vintage furniture with spindly legs, outrageously bright patterned pillows, gritty industrial pieces mixed with curvaceous Belle Epoque lines and tossed into sleek mid-century architecture.
I think this could look awesome. Or it could look unspeakably terrible. But at the end of the day, I keep reminding myself to trust my own design sense and do what feels good to me. I don’t have to have white walls even though most design*sponge apartments do; I don’t have to have beige because it’ll sell better years down the line. I can keep my cardboard moose head and my UFO painting and my weird ceramic cat, and still design a beautiful, livable space in the process. I don’t have to live in a Pottery Barn catalog; I can clip pieces from CB2 and old back-issues of Domino and paste them into House Beautiful. Right?
P.S. The title of this post came from a discussion I had with Jimmy earlier. I was describing my little chart above and he said “Some of those I got…I know what eggshell is, and khaki.” I said, “What about taupe?” and he said, “Nope. Nope to taupe.” I then thought of a design reality show where people who are afraid of anything but neutrals have an intervention, and someone comes and paints their living room eggplant purple. I proceeded to laugh for an inappropriately long time. I crack myself up.
So if anyone’s reading this: what are your thoughts? Can you love bright colors and eclectic stuff and still have a cohesive, livable, beautiful space? Or do you have to sacrifice colored walls and cardboard moose heads to have a harmonious home?