ColorsMany years ago we crested the Santa Susanna pass between the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley at sunset. Spread before us was the most amazing array of colors which I began to rhapsodically name – cantaloupe, apricot, peach, papaya, mango, gold, raspberry, currant, plum… The quiet from the driver’s side of the car was noticeable. Turning to my very clever but non-visual husband I inquired, “You don’t see any of those colors, do you?” No he didn’t. I live in a color filled world. And the colors I live in are more important to me than I thought.

The new home we bought in North Carolina was beautifully decorated. Cool gray walls with red, white and black accents. Very dramatic, modern, stylish. But those aren’t the colors I live with best. And I was a bit surprised, although I probably shouldn’t have been, at how unsettling it was for me to live with those colors. While we were expecting to take a leisurely approach to repainting our new home that good intention lasted about three weeks.

I’ve learned that I’m a vanilla bean kind of gal. I’m drawn to more mid-range pastels with a little zip as the paints chips above suggest. The three middle colors – sea sprite, brandied pears and cornmeal – are shifting the color palette of our home. I’m sure there is something deeply psychological about how I’m drawn to colors that are described by foods! Well, except for sea sprite, a teal pastel, that creates a very restful background for our master bedroom and bath. One would be hard pressed to think of a teal pastel food…probably with the obvious exception of mold growing on some long-forgotten leftover in the back of the refrigerator.

Yet there is lots of vibrant color in our home as well. Mostly it hangs on the wall as art. Art that is full orange, rust, cream, lemon yellow, lime, avocado, soft golds, mustard…lots of those foodie kind of colors. Not surprisingly, the artwork on those walls still painted a cool gray look a bit lackluster, and not as bright as they might. One of these days they’ll be happier backed by brandied pears. Who wouldn’t? Colors make a difference.

But I must also confess to being a bit of a color snob. There are just somethings that shouldn’t be certain colors. High on my list? Cars should never be painted mustard yellow or a yellow ocher-ish brown. Fortunately, car manufacturers have the good sense to agree with me and such color faux pas are seldom seen on the road nowadays. As much as I love orange, it doesn’t belong on cars either. And while I love blue greens, I’m not very fond of blues in general, especially cobalt blue. Several friends and family members collect blue patterned dishes and cobalt glassware. I look forward to enjoying them when I visit, but they’d not be welcome in my home. It’s a color I don’t live with well. While I enjoy wearing denim blue, I’m uncomfortable wearing navy. While there are lots of orange accents in my home you won’t find anything peachy. And on it goes.

Yup. Color makes a difference. I went from being slightly uneasy in our new home to being happy. The change in wall colors has, in some mysterious way, helped in my “efforts to imprint new routines.” Perhaps living in a particular palette  of colors has always been a part of my “routine” that I’m just coming to understand. Perhaps it’s a stage of life thing. Or a bow to current fashion. The fabulous golds, avocado greens, and oranges of the late 60’s and early 70’s couldn’t remotely be called mid-range pastels, but I loved them. Along with the bright orange, goldenrod yellow and raspberry sherbet pinks of the late 70’s – the trio of colors I painted and wallpapered our bathroom when we lived in England. I should probably still be apologizing to the folks who bought our home in Marlow! But those colors made a difference. I loved living in them.

If you’re influenced by the colors you live in, what are those colors? What colors don’t you live well with? What color should a car never be painted? If stage of life influences our color preferences, what might you say about that?

7 comments to Colors

  • Dana Thompson


    We agree on colors. The little old house we bought to downsize into had a lovely master bedroom and bath addition. But the rug in the bedroom was textured white and the bath was covered with pink tile. That and the jacuzy tub had to go. I had renovated three baths in our old house with beige tile and soft turquoise walls so decorating was no problem. Our old bedroom rug was a dark teal. It was very practical for 48 years, but the realtor said it had to go so she could stage the house with beige carpets. In our new house i put in a light teal/green carpet which reminds me of walking on grass, and the bathroom is beige tile with light turquoise walls. While picking out the carpet I also picked out paint samples for the bath to go with it. Since the sliding door to the bath is mostly open, the colors go well together. The dark pink wallpaper in the other bath with white tile was removed and also painted the light teal. Contractors tell us that pink was popular years ago, but it is not my favorite color, especially in a house. As we hang our pictures on the off white walls the rooms come alive.


  • Donna Gall

    I am deifinately influenced by color. I think we are all born that way, just some more aware of that influence than others. I remember growing up that my dad painted every kitchen bright yellow and every master bedroom a soft mint green. I hated them both. When I became old enough to choose the color I wanted for the first room I didn’t have to share, I stood watching my dad mix just the right shade of soft pink. I loved that room, but I couldn’t live with it now.Until 5 years ago I wouldn’t have yellow in my house. I went for blues, teal, bright red, deep rose, Hunter green, khaki. As I have become more at peace with myself I have repainted everything. I live now with soft yellow, camel, varing shades of earth tones. Colors can have a psychological impact on most people. But I think those with an artistic bent are far more impacted. You Lynne are one of those,as am I. So is my daughter, who has been insistent since she was 4 years old, that her room reflect who and what she was at diferent ages. By the time she left home her room had been completely redone 4 times, all vastly different. She has had 4 homes over the years, all vastly different, none of which I could live with. Color can reflect who, what, where and how we are at a given time in our lives.

  • More pink cars. More very dark nail polish. More burnt orange. Thanks. xoxo

  • Deanna Bowling

    So, when I was little, my mom told me that I didn’t like my hair in braids because I wasn’t pretty. Never mind that mom was trying to let me neck be cooler because I suffered from heat rash.

    Now I am that way about color. There are colors that are pretty, and there are colors that are not. There are also colors that are great for cars but not for bedrooms, or even more not so much colors but the amount of a given color on a given project that is right or not right.

    I am doing artistic rendetions of scripture, specifically a given scripture in the book of Luke. My latest piece is for my brother, Jerry. Oye, I just want to “throw it across the room” sometimes, it is giving me fits. It keeps “telling me” which order to put the colors in across the piece, how much, what is too much and what is not. Then it changes it’s mind, and sends me out shopping again, this time for new picture frames. I have re-done the cross three times, and the frames twice now. And it is still not finished. Oye, colors as Donna posted aboved, can definitely “who we are”, or who in my case I am trying to reflect.

  • Deanna Bowling

    “who we are” should be “reflect who we are”. Sorry

  • Janet

    I love color…mostly in others’ homes or on others. I realized after we re painted all interior rooms they are ALL a slightly different shade of yellow. While I like bright yellow, these calmer yellows are very welcoming and soothing…even embracing. I love the peachy and corals, yet often wear them as accents…tend to snap me out of my vanilla (albeit French vanilla) world. I find lots of color or even colored print furniture feels chaotic and so very not restful. As I age, m- m-m, I find I might take a risk in choosing brighter colors, however, that risk is normally short-lived….but fun! Cars…mine have almost always been in the navy blue shade…yes I did have a yellow VW bug…it was GREAT!!!! My Orange Rabbit was a total loser! When I see a certain shade of green on the highway my term is puke green…so don’t go there car folk!

  • Tim Farrow (the grandson)

    My favorite range of colors is the range of colors that left you uneasy. I find the gray scale in combination with a red, or a burnt orange (props to Connie for bringing that up) or even a reddish brown to be an incredible combination.

    When it comes to clothes, I like to wear very passive colors such as a baby blue or a light grey with a brightly colored breast pocket on my t-shirts.

    I had to laugh when reading this. I can’t recall you ever having worn navy, grandma.

    I really loved this blog!

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