Back Porch: Color me nervous

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Back Porch: Color me nervous

My friend Erin has a real knack for color. Whenever I’m at her place, I marvel over the fact that not only did she paint the walls in a high-traffic downstairs room deep pink, but that they don’t look completely ridiculous. And then there’s a green room, which flows seamlessly into a yellow space.

Once upon a time, I decided we too could use a little yellow in our abode. I’ve always considered it a cheerful color, and thought I’d be doing everyone a favor by applying a coat of happiness to our foyer walls. I imagined folks walking through the front door and, without understanding why, forgetting all their woes and smiling.

Shortly after cleaning the yellow from my brushes, I came across a study that claimed the use of too much of the wrong yellow could cause people to become uneasy and aggressive. I don’t recall any knock-down-drag-outs in our entryway, but I do remember that the walls made me sick—literally. 

O.K., part of the problem might have been that I was a few months pregnant with our first child and suffering from such dreadful all-day sickness that even the smell of soap made me nauseated. The fact remained, though, that whenever I entered my own home, there was a decent chance that the sight of my freshly painted, very bright yellow walls would cause a mad dash for the loo.

Eventually I sweet-talked my husband into re-painting the space beige. And pale blue is as crazy as I’ve dared go, wall-color-wise, since.

It’s not that I don’t like color. On the contrary; our home is rife with it. Just not applied directly to the walls. Yet whenever I tire of a room, I know that a couple gallons of paint are the cheapest, simplest and most satisfying way to transform a dull space.

So I optimistically head for the paint store. And once inside, I’m immediately drawn to the reds, oranges and purples. These are colors of paint that I’ve never actually purchased, but do have a thick stack of sample cards of, should I every have a hankering for a Mango Tango bathroom. 

After a recent week of snow, ice and cold forced me to spend an inordinate amount of time indoors—surrounded by my uninspired walls—I decided that four years is long enough to think about what color to paint one’s living room. I needed to act.

I knew from all those afternoons spent ogling Nate Berkus on “Oprah” that I’d be happier with my paint job if I first selected a focal point—a piece of furniture, a pillow, rug or drapery fabric—and attempted to match my paint to that. After much deliberation, I decided to be bold. I would find a hue to complement the red in my favorite reading chair. 

The next morning I was on my way out the door, large chair cushion in hand, when my husband asked where I was going. I ‘fessed up, causing him to stop mid-whip in his pancake batter preparation. “Two words for you,” he said. “Yellow foyer.”

Ah, yes. The vomit-inducing entryway.

Maybe, I thought, it’d be best if I hold off on any paint shopping until I consult with my color whiz pal Erin. Besides, the ice is mostly melted outside, and the thermometer’s supposed to hit 60 degrees in a couple days. I really should forget about the inside of our house and focus on the garden instead.

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