I often struggle with colour. I look on Flickr and at other people's blogs and will occasionally so fall in love with the way that someone else uses colour in their home that I am overcome by the wish to emulate their boldness and flair. We are having a new bathroom put in at the moment and I began planning it a few months ago with a resolve to be adventurous with colour. I chose tiles with beautiful and definite colours and began picking out paints and floorings that might complement them...but while I could appreciate their beauty to the point of absolutely loving them, my heart did not feel warm with happiness at the thought of having them on my walls. I realise now that I felt guilty and self-conscious for not challenging myself more with colour in my home. But choosing tiles, paints and colours for this bathroom has eventually made me realise that I do not veer toward shades of white and cream through fear of colour, but more through an utter appreciation of them. When I have sat with my husband or friends and looked over paint charts they have surprised me by not discussing colours with me, but simply saying 'but that's not you at all' when I have pointed at a deep plum paint....and thank goodness that they seem to know me better than I know my self at times.
So sitting in boxes, waiting to be laid on walls are these small mosaic tiles that just felt so right as soon as I saw them, with all their calm, understated pearly iridescence that in certain lights make me think a petrol-spattered puddle.
All these choices that have needed to be made have made me think a lot about colour and how one can feel that one is not being brave and fearless if one does not splash it about with abandon. Before Christmas I was sent a review copy of Orla Keily's Pattern (full review coming soon - it's fantastic, and what is written below is in reference to one paragraph in the entire book, the rest of which I thoroughly enjoyed). I read much of it over the holidays, and was struck by one paragraph because of how passionately I disagreed with it.
"Despite the widespread availability of colour in every area of life, from clothing to wallpaper and paint, from bed linen to pots and pans, many people fight shy of it. While fashions in clothing and interiors do go through their periodic patches of monochrome - 'black is the new black' - there are those who remain ill at ease with colour regardless of what is in the shops or featured on the pages of a glossy magazine. perhaps this is Because they are daunted by the sheer choice of colours available and the fear that they might get it 'wrong' or perhaps they are simply uncertain of how to handle its emotional power or worry about standing out from the crowd and calling attention to themselves. All of which might account for the rather depressing popularity of 'magnolia' as a safe wall colour. Whichever is the case, life without colour is not merely cooking without seasoning, it's cooking without half the ingredients." - Orla Kiely, Pattern.
Firstly, I think Magnolia is a derogatory term. The word magnolia reeks of all that is soulless, bland and without personality. It makes me think of settling for living in a colourless box because B&Q were selling 10 litre cans of magnolia paint on special offer the weekend that decoration was carried out. So to write off the whole spectrum of creams, whites and pale oatmeals with the word 'magnolia' makes me feel as though, for all her brilliance, Orla Keily is missing something. I realised through this bathroom choosing process that whether it is technically correct or not, I, and I know many others, very much see shades of white as colours : colours that allow room for other things to speak, such as light, texture and reflection. These shades of white make my heart sing with their subtlety and calm and just how many hours I can lose every year enjoying and appreciating all that they allow to be seen: the way that light bounces off them in such a pure, undiluted way and the canvas for shadows that they provide.
|These two pictures were taken a few months ago within five minutes of one another as the winter sun sank down.|
It is rare for me to say anything bordering on feisty on my blog. Whenever I'm sent books to review I feel incredibly mindful that the author is a person just like me who may be hurt by a negative review after months of hard work spent bringing their book to life and so I tend not to write about books that I haven't enjoyed (I'd never expected the author's themselves to read all their reviews across the blogland, but I've now heard from five lovely authors having mentioned or reviewed their books, so I'm now doubly mindful of this). For the most part I loved Orla Kiely's book and intend to write a full review of it in the next couple of days (while sipping tea from one of her mugs), but this paragraph in the book provoked an odd reaction in me, I think partly because she asserts her view as though the use of colour is the superior choice when, call me sitting-on-the-fence-girl, I think that the only thing that matters is whether it makes your heart flutter. I've thought about it often since reading this in December, so please forgive me for sticking my head above the parapet*, but occasionally one must for fear of turning into the equivalent of a can of magnolia paint.
(*Yes, Joanne, the parapet has been peeped over twice in 24 hours - lawks! This is unprecedented).