House Inspiration – On Color

Do you see this sample board? The most beautiful sample board ever created? It’s an old color chart for Herman Miller Eames fiberglass shell chairs, circa 1964.1964 Herman Miller Eames Shell Chair Catalog Colors

source: here 

I stumbled across  it one day and I couldn’t stop obsessing over its color perfection. Like, do you want to know the two coolest shades of yellow? Well, here you go: Lemon Yellow and Brilliant Yellow. The best blues? Oh, well there’s four of them: Turquoise, Light Blue, Medium Blue and Navy Blue. See the chart. Is pink a color? Yes, but only if it’s that hot, hot magenta right up there. What about purple? Finally proof of what I’ve known all along – purple doesn’t exist. Every color you will ever need is right here, on the chart. I could go on, but you get it, right?


I could daydream about colors all day long. So as I was obsessing over this little board, it hit me just how many utterly perfect color combinations could be extracted from it. And that happened to be around the time I was thinking about colors for this house. And thinking how I needed some major color boundaries. Because I love color. Like so much. And if left unrestrained, I hoard every colorful thing in the world and soon my space turns into a circus tent. I knew that this time around I needed a tight color palette dished out in a more strategic way (especially important when my favorite color, orange, is involved). And I really needed to be more considerate of the colors of the not blatantly colorful objects. Woods. Metals. Neutrals. I let this little board serve as a reference point (more like authority). So here we go, my color boundaries:

Orange – Beloved orange, the king of colors. I want this everywhere. It’s taken me years and so many failed rooms to realize an “orange room” doesn’t need orange everything. Like, orange walls, orange floors, and orange wood tones is probably overkill. (Yes, I did that once and, no, it didn’t work out.) A little goes a long way. I really want this color to be the glue that holds my house together, the one that shows up everywhere. I love this room from the Parker Palm Springs, by Jonathan Adler, of course. To me, I see an orange room. But there’s not a ton of it in there. Lesson learned.Parker Palm Springs Conversation Pit

source: Parker Palm Springs

Chartreuse – Also one of my favorites, mostly because I want to lick acid green 50’s pottery every time I see it. It’s color perfection. This is also one that has schooled me on my walls. I once thought a vintage chartreuse Russel Wright plate would serve as the perfect paint color inspiration for my living room, kitchen and dining room. It didn’t. Yes, like this:wrightchartruese

Light blue – Like the perfect 60’s surf blue. Or like the pool on a sunny day blue. It’s weird to me that I like this color because I never think of myself as a blue kind of girl, but I eat it up. As fate would have it, my house has an entire bathroom full of fixtures in just this shade (and so did my last one!). So, it’s an easy choice to add to the mix. How gorgeous is this door (and knob!!!)?! This happens to be Bobby Darin’s old place, no big deal.jim walrod blue door mid century

source: Architectural Digest

Medium blue and maybe a hit of navy  – A little here and there. Below, medium blue perfection in heath tiles. And navy is so pretty with Danish pieces.sunset blue heath tiles bathroom

source: Sunset

navy amsterdam modern

source: Amsterdam Modern

White – The majority of my walls need to be white. It makes painting the most boring job ever but I’ve finally realized that it’s what is best for my garish possessions. Look how pretty and warm this room is, even though it is hugely bright white:white living room mid century takesunset

source: Take Sunset

Black – I can’t get seem to quit black, even though I sometimes want to. It’s so bold and graphic and crisp and dramatic and brooding. I know in my last post I said I was going for light and bright and cheerful and blah blah…but I’ve got a huge measure of melancholy in me too. Because just look at this:scandanavian home black white

source: bfs design

Gray  – I’m not doing any trendy gray walls or anything but my kitchen tiles are a beigey gray (greige) color and in perfectly usable condition. So that is in the mix by default. I probably wouldn’t be drawn to grays, but I love it in the context of orange and brown and yellow:1953 mid century living room orange

 source: Mid Century Home Style

Browns – In all of its earthy shades. Mostly in the form of wood. I’m sticking mainly with blondes and brunettes here (light maples and dark walnuts with some honeys in between).jamie bush mid century bedroom

source: Jamie Bush

Brass – Brass is all super trendy now so that makes me slightly uncomfortable because that means that one day soon it will be “outdated” again, but it’s period correct and this house is full of it, so I’m going with it. I’ve never been a metallic fan but I’m making an effort to add it in here for that within reach brass sputnik

 source: DWR

This list seems really long, even though I feel like I’ve narrowed it down a lot. That kind of stresses me out, but it will be fine. And there you have it. See you next time?


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