A lingering golden shadow

Having lived with more than my desired share of white, off-white, ecru, beige, ivory, cream etcetera walls, I now live in a house of Crayola colors.

My certainty about the types of colors that would work best in this house sprang from sources both intuitive (spending years in small-windowed houses filled with washed-out colors) and purchased (including 224 pages of validation from colorists-to-the-rich Donald Kaufman and Taffy Dahl). Donald, Taffy, and I agree: when a room is cursed with incredibly limited natural light, using a super-pale paint color results in grimness galore.

And really between the existing 70s-era kitchen and bathrooms I’d say we had enough grimness already:

SCARY! Vix Household bath pre-reno

SCARY! Vix Household bath pre-reno

Rather tediously, however, Mr Vix entered our relationship with a fondness for white, off-white, ecru etcetera walls–and/or an apprehension about co-existing with colors outside of that range. When we first moved in together, all I wanted was to get my paws on a roller loaded with cinnamon paint and all he wanted was Not That.

While our first year in the house included many, many color-related negotiations, I superstitiously avoided introducing the idea of one very-sensible-for-my-climate color range: yellow.

Because thanks to an 1892 tale by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I’ve spent the last 23 or so years associating said range with oppression and psychosis rather than breakfasts in cheerful diners. All because the shaky mental health of  Gilman’s narrator further deteriorates when she is confined to a single room in her home and forbidden to work, a single room whose dominant color is…YELLOW.

It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there is something else about that paper—the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad….[T]he only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.”

Virago Modern Classic's latest cover design captures the essence of the disturbing 1892 tale

With that stuck in my brain OF COURSE I ended up with a eucalyptus bedroom. However, and though it seemed like taunting fate to give me what for, I eventually caved and ended up painting my home-based office a fairly mellow shade of gold:

My reluctantly-yellowd home office, on a grey (summer!) day

My reluctantly-yellow'd home office, on a grey (summer!) day

In the 6 years the walls and I have co-existed I’ve yet to go TOTALLY around the bend, so fingers crossed. Though now that the bath’s been redone in pale yellow tile, I admit I have a few twinges of worry. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that my mid-life anxiety started around the time the last bit of grout set the pattern in place. After all, I tore down the old walls myself; I know there’s absolutely nothing trapped behind them.

Or nothing that I can see, anyway….

Going for the light gold: still life with walls and floors

Still life with Vix Household's bath walls + floors: After ~ a year of yellow tile, disaster has yet to strike

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3 Responses

  1. Oh, this is so funny, especially the part about Mr Vix’s aversion to color!

    In my first flat, I *wanted* creamy walls – no problem. After that we spent 2 years renting (beige) and finally bought a house that had been a rental (yikes, more beige). I am *so* ready for a bit more color (yellow, biscuit, wheat, whatever!!) but Beloved Husband is reluctant.

    Your home office looks lovely. Lets hope the yellow demons stay away!

  2. I saw your window treatment woes post as I was running out the door and thought, “oh, that room would look great with even pale color in it”…then came home to your comment, ha! I will go back over and try to focus on the topic, promise.

    I’ve done some color consults for small rental houses and in my biased opinion it just makes SUCH a difference to move away from all-beige all the time. As you say, even a light toast can bring a big shift.

    I do all the painting here, so part of my bargain is that I will REpaint if the final results are hated. I splotch liberally to minimize the chances of that happening, of course, since by the time I’m done with a room I never want to paint again!

  3. Thanks so much for your suggestions on window treatments – I’m totally blown away at the time you took – sincere thanks.

    I love your negotiating that you’ll repaint if he hates it; that’s a great tactic. Recently I’ve come home with a few purchases and promised to return them if he really objects to them; that seems to work fine too!

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