Time for Some Color Therapy: Life is Too Short for Beige
STEPHANIE SINNOTT | Haven Magazine
As a color consultant I am constantly hearing from clients that they have no idea where to begin when it comes to choosing paint colors for their home. Many tell me that they are so clueless they have simply settled for years with their white walls rather than dealing with the frustrating and overwhelming task.
I find this rather sad. When they finally rediscover their homes, with the right help and colors, lives are transformed. Yes I said “lives.” These days many of us are spending more time in our homes than ever before. The colors that we surround ourselves with have the power to completely affect our mood. I, for one, am one of those people. My personal color philosophy is that life is too short for beige.
I find the winter grays and dirty spring browns quite depressing in the area we live in. Therefore I’ve transformed my very modest home into a tropical colored cabana to escape my reality. Yes it’s a mirage but it works for me in January when I’m dying to get away but instead resort to mixing up margaritas and soaking in the sunny yellows, tangerines and lime colored walls with my piña colada scented candles. Some may feel more at ease with muted neutrals, earthy greens, creamy beige, sophisticated steely grays and blues. Some like my twin brother have always believed there is only one color to paint walls: white. High gloss white to be exact. This was a trait passed down from our father who liked everything clean and immaculate. My mother, on the other hand, was highly creative and an interior designer and artist. It made for quite an interesting home, growing up. I remember at the age of twelve spending the entire day at her design studio and sifting through wallpaper books and paint color decks.
It was heaven. I’ll never forget the first time she asked me to create a design with coordinating wallcoverings, paint, carpet and linoleum flooring (it was the 80s). I loved choosing bold colors and coming up with unique combinations. The best part was when the client loved the design and they had no idea it was created by a preteen. Not that my mom didn’t want to give me credit but I was too shy at the time to want to accept it. After my mom passed away and I was still in my teens, my dad let me redecorate our home. I chose the funkiest light purple carpet with “totally awesome” coordinating linoleum for the kitchen.
It was wild and now that I look back it was completely tasteless, but my white wall father put his faith in his teenaged daughter’s designer ideas. I also think it was his way of letting go a little of his mild fear of color and letting me do what my mother may have done if given the opportunity. When I graduated from school, I moved to Florida where I lived in white walled apartments. Because there is so much color in nature and everywhere you look there it didn’t bother me so much. I bought over the top accessories any time I had a little extra money in my bank account. Then at the age of 25. I bought my first home. I actually had it built and was able to choose all of the finishes inside. I didn’t have a lot of extra money but I knew the one thing I was going to purchase before anything else was paint.
I went bold. I had a chocolate brown living room before it was even popular. My kitchen was all white cabinets, counter, and tile set against a lime green backdrop. I accessorized in pops of red, orange and yellow. You couldn’t walk in there and be in a bad mood. After I sold my home I moved into a much larger and more sophisticated home. Again I chose all of the finishes. Having a little more money this time I went with rich mahogany cabinets, higher-end flooring, richer colors and finishes. It definitely had more of a designer touch. It was elegant and I was proud of the design work and painting I had done. However it did not evoke the same feeling as my first place. As I look back now I would say it was not only because the colors made me happier but because I knew I had to be more creative for the lack of money. Today my modest home in Cloquet, Minnesota is an eclectic mix of color.
Some rooms are bolder than others. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I need color in my surroundings, especially in the midst of our dark, dreary, colorless winters. So, when clients ask me what colors they should paint their homes, the first question I ask is, “What colors make you the happiest?” A very simple question, really, but it’s one many people don’t ask themselves. Instead, they rely on the current color trends or what their friends think or how other people are designing their homes.
Everyone is drawn to certain colors. It starts as a child. There were always those certain colors you reached for in the crayon box first. Do you remember what yours were? Sometimes I think if we were to think more like children, simple choices such as paint colors wouldn’t seem like such a painstaking task. I now wonder what my mom’s clients would have thought knowing that their living room in the ’80s was designed by a twelve year-old.
By the way, my twin brother was in my store recently to get some paint. He chose Benjamin Moore’s Pittsfield Buff. A very lovely and warm soft beige gold. I was so proud. Hope your own color journey brings you much peace and happiness.
Stephanie Sinnott is a designer, artist, and owner of Zoe’s Boutique, a sophisticated place for clothing and accessories for women, right in Cloquet, Minnesota.
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