CE&C Renovation Experiment One: Nesting III – Paint

[Previous post in this Experiment: Nesting II – Selecting a Style]
[First post in this Experiment: Nesting I – New House Inertia]

The sky is the only place we ever see colour that is not on something.

While it took a building being blown up outside my front window to change my momentum and start renovating my life, I have always had a fascination for art, design and home decorating. I grew up in an extended family of artists and designers and was surrounded by exquisite design from the cradle. Although I am the only one in my extended family that is non-artistic (I couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler if I tried), I developed through brutal and non-stop overexposure a keen appreciation and eye for gorgeousness.

For years I have bought home decorating magazines, a delightful albeit illogical form of escapism from my rather cerebral reality. As part of my designer magazine addiction, every year I eagerly await the AD100 list in the January edition of Architectural Digest. I have developed an annual ritual of clicking on each interior designer’s name. If I like the AD snippet, I go further and type the designer’s name into the search engine and look at the images. And look, and look… I have even splurged on a number of my favourite designer’s books.

Having the top designers mentor me through their images for years was worth the effort. I was particularly inspired by Alexa Hampton’s Language of Interior Design and Decorating in Detail, which provided a clear step-by-step articulation of design principles which I read over very carefully.

At a high level, what I have learned is that while colors, materials and ornamentation vary considerably, the layouts between the designers are very similar. The rules to good room layout don’t change.

The one thing I did do before moving into my house was have it painted. I had spent months looking through my meter high stack of home decorating magazines, tearing out the images that made me feel good, which I then stored in an iconic green paper “Laduree Paris” bag that I was never able to throw out. I accumulated 100s of paint chips from various hardware stores over the years – some of which had the audacity to rudely invade my dreams. I even tried a few paint samplers on the wall. Meh. Unfortunately my brain was unable to “see” how a color would combine in a particular space with constantly changing light and shadow against a variegated background of life and a plethora of tchotchkes that are an ode to my life.

After months of color frustration I admitted defeat. For the first time in my life, I sought professional decorating help. Like going to a mental health therapist, there is no shame in seeking help when you need it.

“To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”

  • Confucius

I went to a wonderful interior design store called Uproar, located in the artsy district of Hintonburg, Ottawa. Uproar’s delightful and hilarious owner Janise Saikaley is a genius with color. She came to my house for a free two-hour color consultation. I showed her my stash of carefully curated magazine clippings, carefully trying to articulate what I liked in each picture. After listening to me ramble on and on she commanded me to “Be silent.” Shhh. Time for talk was over.

Janise’s eyes focused on something inside her colourist’s mind as she traveled to a mystical place I could not fathom being in… I could almost see the wheels turning in her multicolored brain. Then Janice pronounced rapidly in words of the foreign language of interior design a list of colorful sounding names, such as Borrowed Light, Celery and Charlotte’s Locks, that in her design dream-quest she had decided were to envelop the walls in my living space. At the same time, she rapidly scribbled the ephemeral information on the Farrow and Ball sample sheet she provided. Janise had understood exactly what I wanted even if I had not.

At my request, Janise recommended a marvellous European house painter with decades of experience. For the first time in my life I hired someone else to paint my house. It was worth every penny.

Everyone, like Janice, has a unique talent. Mine is recognizing patterns and seeing trends in anything. It is just a thing – it is part of my “special” brain wiring. In addition, the scientist in me feels comforted when there is actual statistical data with which I can verify my visceral pattern/trend recognition abilities.

Not having had the time to keep up with the current interior design trends, I decided that I would survey 30 on-line designer blogs that had lists of 2014 interior design trends. I chose 30 because that is a statistically valid population from which to verify trends. The 30 blogs identified 96 trends, and I have listed all trends that received at least four mentions below. The most popular trends for 2014 included in order of number of hits are:

  • the use of yellow metals (copper, brass) both shiny and patinated
  • blues of every hue (particularly turquoise, navy and peacock)
  • vintage/curio pieces (as-is or painted)
  • florals (in textiles)
  • fiber art and macramé
  • combinations of different materials (glass, metal, stone, wood, textiles)
  • mixing and matching different types of metals
  • ethnic/global textiles/prints
  • transparent/acrylic furniture
  • radiant orchid (color)
  • bold geometric design
  • statement light fixture
  • light honey toned woods
  • mixing textures and patterns
  • luxury/glamor
  • corduroy upholstery
  • black and white patterns
  • hair-on hide
  • pastels (washed out)
  • items in marble

Then I looked at 100s of examples of each item on the search engine and Pinterest to see how I responded to each trend and for inspiration. Inspired I went on a shopping expedition around my house, opening boxes I forgot were there, hidden in the dark recesses in my basement and garage. To my astonishment I discovered a goldmine of “trendy” possibilities.

“We shape our homes…, and then our homes shape us.”
• Sir Winston Churchill

[Next post in this Experiment: Nesting IV – The Living Room]


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