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On Wall Colors

Sawyer and I have 82 days left to cherish the cozy little home we’ve made together in Sunrise Spot.  In less than three months, we will be swapping out the comforting yellow painted walls for a relaxing blue-grey paint in our new home.  In a post about decor a little while back, I discussed that what one keeps in their space is a reflection of themselves; the color of our walls is no different.

Both Sawyer and I have a penchant for the natural when it comes to color schemes.  Warm sands, creamy ecru, greens, browns, black, white.  These colors in a wardrobe are generally considered neutral pieces.  They can act on their own or compliment more daring fashion choices.  Our friends tend to tease us about wearing analogous clothing when we’re out together, which has informed us to that we do indeed dress similarly due to our preference in color.

When we stepped into Sunrise Spot as potential renters, then, the inviting yellow walls of the living room and bedroom meshed incredibly well with the eggshell kitchen, bathroom, and doors.  You could say the little place with its sloped ceilings and retro red kitchen countertop was meant to be.  IMG_6055I couldn’t be more fortunate that this wonderful place is our first home together.  Although I am excited to turn a new page in Philadelphia, I will certainly miss my life here in Burlington.

I have an acute memory for each color that my bedroom walls progressed through, even before my parents picked up and moved houses.  When I first moved to Vermont, my room was a previous female occupants’ token bubblegum pink.  It had an ugly wallpaper that both my mother and I decided needed to be disposed of quite soon after moving into the house.  When the pink was replaced, I had decided on painting it a rich split pea green.  I suspended lanterns and Thai-made wooden dragons from the ceiling and hung gauzy gold curtains from the windows with bamboo blinds.  This was my teenage sanctuary.  I found that my experience with green was quite similar to what a color consultant might say – it is soothing and opens up a space (and may also play toward introversion).

After my eastern-inspired room, my parents moved to a new house and I was given free-reign over what to do with my mother-in-law suite/bedroom.  Sheathed in my love for the American southwest, I color blocked my new bedroom in VOC-free cans of cream, orange, and burgundy.  It reminded me of warm, dry desert days.  Once again, the color consultant in me was correct: my room became friendly, nurturing, and intimate (and may also play toward extroversion).

For many people, there is something enticing about the smell of a fresh can of paint.  However, a typical wall paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals – 300 of which known toxins – so just because the paint smells good (similar to gasoline), it definitely shouldn’t be breathed in regularly.  Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are solvents that are found in many paints that are released into the air as the paint dries.  They contain carbon, and in an indoor setting, VOCs are notably ten-times as strong as outdoor levels and could potentially rise to 1,000 times higher immediately after painting.  I recommend doing your homework before heading to Sherwin Williams – read up on the ingredients that might be used in your chosen paint and consider whether you’d want your children, pets, or yourselves breathing in the vapors in certain paints.  Even “all-natural” paints (20-80% more expensive than traditional) have some less-than-reputable unregulated VOCs.  When I painted my desert oasis, I chose to use Sherwin Williams’ zero-VOC Harmony acrylic latex paint.  Now that I have fur-babies, however, I would switch to YOLO Colorhouse paints should I decide on repainting my walls.  Both of these choices have made the cut for Treehugger’s list of top-five interior paints for a healthier home.

Thus, I have willingly experienced both extremes of the color spectrum when it comes to wall coloring; warm (reds, oranges, yellows) and cool (greens, blues, purples) colors that influence the room’s atmosphere in specific ways.  What I have come to realize is this: while I absolutely adored the rooms while I lived in them, they were my escape – my personal portal to another world.  While I was never truly unhappy, as a teenager and young adult, I was dreaming of exploring faraway places and escaping the rules and regulations that are characteristic of living under a roof provided by attentive parents.

While many landlords prefer their tenants not to paint their temporary homes (however temporary they may be), our landlord for Sunrise Spot had no such stipulations.  Despite how novel a freedom that was, I found that I did not need to paint our apartment a new color.  IMG_6053.jpgThe cheerful light yellow and neutral eggshell was – I have finally realized – exactly where I wanted to be.  It has, by being a neutral shade, allowed me to create with my decor and furniture a home that allows for optimal use of the space available for both practical and creative situations.  It allows for meditation, relaxation and industry.  When living in a tiny apartment, sometimes it’s not enough to aspire to do.  Sometimes you need an extra push, and finding inspiration in things like the color of the walls lends you the inspiration to begin, continue on, and complete those projects that – occasionally – you’d rather procrastinate on.

My journey to finding the set of wall colors most appropriate for my personality was – while not entirely unique (I know that Sawyer also explored many different colors in his childhood bedrooms) – definitely an experimental one.  I have discovered that I need a neutral color for my walls to allow for my creativity to take hold of a room, to shape my space for the purpose(s) it needs to serve.  As I continue to serve a simple, purpose-driven lifestyle, each room in my home is an essential root toward the productivity I wish to accomplish each day.  I want to fill my space with simple, hard-working, beautiful objects that continue to aid and inspire me for years and years to come.  Having a neutral backdrop for these objects is inimitable should I want to continue my choice in lifestyle.  IMG_6054

If you’re currently twiddling your thumbs and praying for educated advice to fall into your lap about interior color choice, I would suggest picking up a copy of Eve Ashecraft’s The Right ColorThe book is an insightful read by one of the most sought-after color consultants in America and will surely point you in the right direction as you pick up your own color swatches and test jars.  I’d love to hear what you find most important when it comes to coloring your walls – please share your thoughts, success stories, and learning moments!

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: On Kitchen Cabinets | cornsilk doll

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