Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ask Sherwin Williams

What's your favorite color? Because I spend a lot of time with pre schoolers, I am strongly attuned to color. Since the time he could express a preference, Gabe, for example, has unanimously favored orange. None of us can truly think of a reason not to indulge this favoritism; not only that, but orange is a popular color in little boys' clothing. As a result, Gabe can wear his favorite color from top to bottom and layer upon layer day after day.

The little girls, not surprisingly, prefer apparel on the red side of the spectrum. Whether I purchase dresses, tees, leggings, socks or jammies, I try to keep the balance of pink and purple equal between Lizzie and Abbie. Some times one prefers one and the other the other, but I make no attempt to keep the switches straight. The only problem with pinks and purples is their propensity to show dirt: these girls get right down to their work and play and pastels pay the price.

Millie's house this time exhibits her love of blue, though we all still remember the previous red wallpaper and the earthtones of the 70s in the old family room. Blake and I lived with some really strange color schemes in our first little house. The main room was carpeted with the kind of carpet once prevalent in kitchens and baths. The tiled pattern and brown and yellow palette inspired me to paint the plywood cabinets a bright buttercup yellow: the perfect accompaniment to my harvest gold range. This was the same house with fake rosewood paneling in one of the rooms. And I painted the mud room a particularly brilliant blue that no one would consider anything but obnoxious. I wanted bright.....

I don't know why I struggle with color. My parents have such a knack! The kitchen in their old farm house was dark with a sloping low ceiling like some Irish croft. One expected it to smell of peat. But the crumbling walls of the dining room were paneled in a peculiar but rich hickory grain that sported just the barest hint of blue gray. I've never seen anything like it. Their bedroom set of mismatched Eastlake furniture belied its ranch housing with walls of the deepest jade, a daring choice. Their current bedroom is painted in the richest rose, a hue I have come no closer to than a paint chip. I find colors I love: in the sky of a 19th century print, a square on a fake "Oriental" rug, a glaze on a piece of pottery. But there is a schism between eye and brain when I must make the final decision and say, 'Eureka! that's it! That's a match!'

This is all a long introduction to a great toy courtesy of Sherwin-Williams. Ann and Matt are going to have their house painted this spring and have decided to honor tradition by choosing to make their old house a Victorian Painted Lady. They have books; they've surfed the 'net, then they discovered a tool for exterior color schemes that is positively addicting. What style house have you? You can pick it! Colonial, ranch, Victorian, Craftsman, even French Country or Spanish Colonial. Voila! A pristine white house appears on your monitor with a full mosaic of color to choose from. Pick one hue and a pair of computer chosen coordinating colors joins it. Click and drag and you can create a scheme from mild to wild. It is the perfect tool for a color dunce like me and gives a family endless choices for democracy in action. Aaron created a 'haunted house' of black and brown and another of two bright oranges. Blake's idea of a paint scheme is as rigidly traditional as a maitre'de: black roof, white house. Because it is fun, and I'm not the one with the burden of a decision, I have sent the Schlueter family more choices than they probably want; they will be forced to pick their paint or be inundated with more ideas than they can handle.

Or....choose a different scheme for each wall!

I'm so helpful! That's why they'll "ask Sherwin Williams....

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