Color Confusion

22 Aug

I love color.  But like all things I love, I tend to over-do it sometimes.  Our last home had some lovely colors…like nine of them.  Each color was perfect for its space, but as a palette for a home it seemed more than a little jarring. With this house, I am determined to choose a palette that gives that balance. My first gut instinct about color in this house was to coordinate with the natural elements that come into the house from the outside, the warm wood, the green of the trees that fill the views through the windows. When they say listen to your instincts, they mean it.  Lesson learned for me.

As my Orla Kiely bible book suggested, I started collecting images I was attracted to. Her patterns, for sure. Warm and whimsical and often natural with stems and flowers. But I also found myself attracted to certain austere colors in more modern homes…cool grays and whites. Don’t forget the bathroom debacle when I tried out the cooler grays. That ended up okay after a repaint of greener grays but I became a little color gun shy in the process.



I think the problem with the original bathroom choices came down to lighting. I have never lived in a home with this much natural light, floor to ceiling windows and more skylights than I can count on two hands. That kind of light seems to change everything. And I mean everything.  For some reason, every cool color in this house ends up with a lavender-ish hue. Don’t get me wrong, I like lavender (the scent) but I really don’t want a Grape Ape kind of house, you know?

So this time, I am being careful.  Very very careful. I am attracted to orange. I think it’s cheerful and friendly and very mid-century, especially of the burnt variety. I started with that as my punch of color and decided to build my gray-ish neutrals around that. Orla put together oranges and grays in her canisters that I love, why can’t I?

I was determined to get this right so I bought a handful of sample sized colors at Home Depot and put them up on walls to live with them for a while. My next project is the hallway, so I started there. I also put them up in the living room because I wanted the neutral to carry through there as well.  What you see here is SilkyWhite, Snowy Pine, Cotton Knit and Burnished Clay (all by Behr.)

I did some playing around by painting even bigger swatches of the two colors I liked:  Burnished Clay (the light cream on the bathroom tile became a darker gray with purplish undertones when you put it on this wall…go figure.) and Cotton Knit, both by Behr. I also painted both colors at the end of the hallway around the closet doors to see what they looked like from a distance. 

We are going to live with these for a while and see how we feel about them. Though I do have that familiar nagging that they look a little purple. (What is it with me and purple?!!?)  Have you ever had this happen in your home?  Colors just don’t look right based on lighting? Please share your experiences because I am confuzzled.


3 Responses to “Color Confusion”

  1. Dana February 11, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Hey! That’s my house on your website! Your 8/22 Color Confusion post is where i noticed our dining/livingroom with the Nelson bubble lamp. I was actually in the middle of a google search for MCM outdoor lighting when your website (and my house) popped up! My husband and I had a good giggle over it. Anyway, back to my google hunt for outdoor lighting. We are tackling the landscaping this year. Good luck on your renovation!


  2. Jennifer August 22, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I saw the two colors in the hallway last week and the one at the end (the darker one) very much has purple undertones ( I mentioned this to Brett and his response was that you have a purple thing apparently) 🙂 I liked the lighter one which will help to open up and lighten the hallway especially in the dreary winter months when there isn’t as many daylight hours and will offset the darker wood of the ceilings and the trim. BTW the bathroom looks great 🙂


  1. Finally putting color on the walls | mid-century MODERN LOVE - August 24, 2011

    […] comment on the post yesterday about my seeming inability to choose appropriate colors (i.e., colors that aren’t purple-ish). Her suggestion was to pick one or two things in your home that you love and use that as the basis […]

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