Keys Homes
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Choosing an inspiring paint color

By LESLIE LINSLEY Citizen Columnist

Two weeks ago, I wrote about painting a small area. By coincidence, or perhaps due to the time of year, I received an email from the paint company, Farrow & Ball. You don't have to leave home to look at paint swatches to decide about a color. Now, you can look through pages of a "get inspired" booklet on the company website to see how colors look with different styles of decorating. Out of curiosity I clicked on " Contemporary style. There I found the rooms painted and decorated in the cool off-white, gray, beige and celedon green I thought I liked best. But then I clicked on "Eclectic" and found rooms painted with beige and white stripes, another room that looked more traditional with a Federal style bent. The walls were gray/green with very dark gray, almost black doors and stair treads. Along with the pictures is a sidebar with the paint color swatches and their names for each room.

If for no other reason, the names of the paint colors are fun to read and it's interesting to see how everything is connected. For example, the movie "Gatsby" is influencing style right now, both in fashion and interior design. And so we find a Gatsby-inspired line of paint colors that includes Manor House Gray, Blackened, and Black Blue. There's a little history with this presentation that tells us that "F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, set in the roaring twenties," and that this decade was the first in which interior design was used. This influence made houses much more glamorous and fantasy homes were created. Homes became modern and fun as well as extremely sophisticated.

Interestingly, the colors used for walls and trims are quite contemporary and familiar in Nantucket homes today. For example, the walls were painted in light colors, while ceilings were often painted with a high gloss. The company says, "Manor House Gray in full gloss would be ideal. Floors were dark and also glossy," and they recommend using their Black Blue Floor Paint with this look.

In the version of the film made in 1974, we are informed that the houses for the set were monotone with everything from the paneled walls to the woodwork painted in the same color white. This created a feeling of serenity, with one room seeming to flow into another, thus creating a feeling of expansiveness. It also enabled the outside to be part of the interior. Accent the scheme with blue and off-whites like Cabbage White or Pavilion Blue. This style is clean, simple and very easy to live with.

In the current film, "Gatsby" the rooms are rather glitzy. The 1920's décor includes the use of lots of chrome, mirrors and glass. Bold colors were used in some homes at that time and almost always in combination with black. It seems that green was used a lot and it is being reinterpreted in a more vibrant, lively version with a paint color called, if you can believe it, Arsenic! The company suggests using this for walls with Pitch Black woodwork combined with Dove Tale or Down Pipe (I love this one!) to create the bold stylized look of the Jazz Age. My suggestion would be to try this in a small area or even on sheets of paper just to see how it all works together. I suppose if you're looking for a new direction this might be pretty exciting. The gray color called "Down Pipe" is close to what I chose for my bathroom. The green seems like a nice change for walls or where you need a little color.

Shades of orange have been popping up as accents this season and I love a shade called Persimmon. I suggested this for fabric to use as an accent color for a friend's outdoor furniture in her home on Sugarloaf. The main cushions were recovered with a neutral beige and she would have been happy to keep everything monochromatic. But since she used me as her consultant on a redo of her outdoor furnishings, I urged her to add Persimmon for a bit of liveliness. It worked for the throw pillows and I've since settled on this color for my own deck on Nantucket. I suggest painting something like a planter, with Farrow & Ball's "Charlotte's Locks" to try it out. This color is described as "highly dramatic and extremely fashionable. " It was widely used as an accent in minimalist decorations of the 1950's, proving that what was old is new again if one waits long enough. If you don't use it for a painted area, consider choosing a fabric in this color.

Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resideson Nantucket with her husband, photographer Jon Aron, and has a store on the island that specializes in her one-of-a-kind creations. Her latest book is "Key West, a Tropical Lifestyle" (Monacelli Press). with photos by Terry Pommett

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