I Dream in Technicolor

When the weather gets worse and the mood strikes low, my mind drifts to images of impossibly beautiful places. This post is dedicated to those visions that have served me so well in letting me relax, think of good things only and revel in the wonders of life. I find that the common threads which attract me to the images are simplicity in colors, single mindedness in theme and calmness in composition. I love imagining myself inside them, savoring the weather, the light quality and the soothing impact. How therapeutic, how lounge-lazy is that? The most obvious theme would be nature. Nature brings us back to our inner instincts of self preservation. Images of immaculate natural settings do wonders to spearhead movements to save the earth. The following are my dreamscapes…

Trees- Save a tree


Actually, while we are at it, we should save the forest- why stop at a tree.









After the trees come the waterways. I am always attracted to waterfalls with its epic power, silent swishing and constancy. Their loneliness seems to permeate their surrounding  and accentuate their majestic existence.









d8c477c5f5354fc22b6137a3b5aed199Beyond waterfalls, there are caves. One chances upon a cave as one opens a surprise gift. Caves are nature’s gift boxes. Handle them with care!



312b8f5aaf7f7e624315f59868f68c2f 820d62ef8e58d513e9e93913ad628983 Rocks. Rocks are not that hardy. They can erode, people can blow them up in quarries. We have to got to see them before they no longer grace our earth. fdfc62b3b80fcc6b70deff68ca2bd386 0c3125b38b1b4db9edb47341a11004cf 0ba5a6abf7ded45e40c9ca2fe1411695 c4b10e4afae25d6547aaad8655ae2ba4 a790fdacec8094b31b52a64ac9267fb9 e4d5864bfb7836a18cb0a963a3f44d8d d5d539e137c2a0b37a989d5e9f099f28 da6c969b92eb862674fb8ed16c247f77 We must not forget how seasons affect our landscapes and really appreciate the various caprices they offer. GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2013 7506b997a74a4cb015a0bac0a8a46802 4b8a1985b82f533961e5c69294b5950f



To travel  in one’s mind: perchance to dream- ay, there’s a rub…

Click on photos for sources.


Name that Greige

Greige and grey and their derivative taupe are so fashionable these days.  I had posted “Greige is the New Beige” post some time ago and thought to complement it with a look at the application of colors for the effect of Greige rooms.  We can browse the paint fan decks and can see quite a few options from which to choose our paint colors.  The new questions seem to be which greige?  Is there an answer to that simple question?  How does one go to choose a greige to answer all greige questions?

As the color specifier to all my projects, I do have a few favorites.  Do I start naming them and be done with? Or do I attempt an entire post dedicated to the selection process?

To be careful, I should also have a disclaimer: the beauty of colors is in the eye of the occupants and in the light of the room it graces.

I sometimes wish I have outfits of the same color I love for a room. It is a rare occurrence since fashion moves with seasons and I, for one, cannot keep up with fashion’s capricious muse. I looked up Design Options, an LA based color forecasting company, and found that the company packages color palette cheat sheets and sells them.  Wow.  I wonder who buys these.  How effective are the cards made for home design trends? I must admit I like some of the color cards that they put together.


I found a site that explains the mix of colors that can be found in greige colors.  I must say my ideas of greige might not meet the correct mix of colors but then some eyes see more colors than others’…

greige mix

I went to Benjamin Moore’s color trends. They seem more relevant as a more precise color guide.  They also give us the actual names of the paint colors which takes all the guesses away from our constant search for the perfect color.  For 2013 color trends, I especially like the “Urbanite” trend’s “Sparrow” color and from the most searched Benjamin Moore colors, I am drawn to “Ranchwood”.



I found these Benjamin Moore greys as the more popular greys from their best sellers colors:

f092f33273c5c0b1d127b003360f96a0Muslin Gray

Since Benjamin Moore came out with Color Stories, I have never chosen colors without first consulting that CSP fan deck.

My favorite greige colors are Cathedral Gray, Gothic Arch and Urban Sophisticate.

csp 205 Cathedral Gray

Gothic Arch  CSP 80

Urban Sophisticate CSP 160

Let’s not forget the most ingeniously named paint color: Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath!

Elephant's Breath

The Color Association gave us “Urban Grit” for 2011-2012 interior color trend. I particularly like this group of colors as it pertains to our search for Greige albeit the colors are on the cooler side of greys.


The Color Marketing Group names ReBlue as the It color for 2014. So  much for greige…

Of course, one must not forget Pantone which announced Emerald as the color for 2013. I went back to the years before and couldn’t find any greige as color of the year according to the world of Pantone.



My search continues… and finally, Sherwin Williams pinpoints “gray as the new black” for 2014 color trend. It is a relief to see confirmation that gray is not yet a thing of past seasons.




So much for greige color search among the paint companies. Their color trends involve many colors such as paint companies should promote. I went back to an outfit that can’t afford change their look every year: Restoration Hardware.  It is a comfort to find their Spring 2013 inspiration looks still filled with grey and greyer images.

c3fa3a305a55c0b05214b286a7443223I decided to double check with Crate and Barrel and was happy to report the same coloring graced their inspiration section.


Then there are those must go to interior designers.  Candace Olson has her pick in Gray Mirage. Darryl Carter likes Asford Grey.

Asford Grey. Benjamin Moore DC 20

Mary McDonald’s favorite is Benjamin Moore HC166 Kendall Charcoal when dramatic effects are called for.

Kendall Charcoal

Barbara Barry loves BM 976 Coastal Fog.

Coastal Fog

Several blogs and websites have their take on favorite greiges.




Will we ever be tired of Greige? Global Color Research has predicted a way to wean out of Greige:  Dusky Berries for 2015… It seems that we might be leaning toward a greige berry trend.  I will have to revisit this romantic color trend in 2 years…

Dusky Berries

Click on photos for source

The Dark Room

It was a dark, dark and stormy night; but is every night a fright when a room is given dark walls?  How does one accomplish a dark room that’s exciting, beautiful and makes one want to linger there?  One rarely finds a proud description of one’s house as a dark home but a dark room, when done right, could be the room which draws us in the most.  Dark rooms in their mysterious way present each of their aspects slowly, not all at one glance like a bright, cheerfully lit room.  Dark rooms can be quite seductive with their hidden charms to be unveiled one at a time. A dish to be savored slowly – nuanced acclimatization required.  They can be engrossing and, at the same time, protective in their allure.  One might also extoll the comforting elegance of that precise darkness especially when in a quest to relax, wind down or meditate.

Designing a dark room is a task that could prove harder than cleaning the Augean stables.  One doesn’t just divert a river of dark paint into the room and call it done.  Dark paint needs contrasting values in various forms to show off  its somberness or velvety quality.  One  usually chooses an accent color to liven up the abysmal depth of the dark walls.

Dark rooms rely primary on browns,black, dark grey, dark taupe, dark blues, greens and purples on walls for it to feel a convincing threat.  The first way to dissect this approach is to go by colors.


Chocolate walls for a chocolate store. This stairwell is done a bit too literally but to chocolate lovers, it must have been a treat to walk through a small hallway with the smooth warmth that chocolate offers.

Dark brown with white trims, white linens and strong geometric patterns. The dark walls retreat into the background to show off the stark patterns.


One of the original black walls. Lutyens played  off the black walls in this room with red lacquer furniture and white trims. A daring color scheme!

Here is another black walled room with white trim. The white trims and fireplace stand quite crisp against the receding walls.

Black kitchen cabinets with a gloss. Here the contrasting color is also white in the white painted floors and window.

Black walls and black floors!  This little opportunity for white trims is compensated for the bright blue uphostery.  A great stroke of creativity to enliven this dark dark room.


Dark warm grey walls set against light colored furniture and white trims. Funny how white trims are the recurring themes for dark rooms.

Cool grey enhanced by black furniture! The light rug saves the day and the cinnabar chairs adds such punch!


Dark taupe walls and casework against yet another dark component in the floors. The contrasting effect relies on the light colored furniture and the accent color orange in the drapes and pillows.

Here is a medium taupe with greyish pink accents. Quite an elegant combination of colors. The daintiness in the radassier and wall sconces is balanced by the playful geometric pattern on the floor.


Ingeniously intense blue on the walls! The polished marble floors and white trims negotiated the heightened sophistication of the room.

Dark grey blue walls with light grey rug and white accents found in the screen and the furniture. Again, the darker the room, the more whites we find.


A rare treat with green plaster walls and old faded yellow trims. The combination is repeated on the tiled floors.

Go green! Use dark furniture as well and redeem it with perfectly white ceiling and a few white windows.


One must truly love purple to use it in such abundance with little relief in silver and grey.

The Textures

Sometimes, dark rooms don’t rely on just dark paint and  contrasting trims or furniture. They rely on the textures the dark colors give off and the sparks and glitters coming from lights and mirrors that complete the look.

Multi-faceted dome lit by an occulus. Lessons learned from the Pantheon, no doubt.

Could any heavy timber construction be heavier than this?

Bring in the stone work and let there be a few light spots.

Texture in the wood paneling serves enough contrast that the absence of white would go amiss.

Glossy walls, shiny crystals, polished marble, polished chrome and silver mirrors. This is how we can bring in the cavalry of reflectivity and give the room sparkles.

Dark wallpaper. It saves itself with the contrasting pattern. An easy way to go for a dark room.

Dark masonry walls. Who would complain if they frame the view so breathtakingly.

Curved wood ribs on the ceiling. Could one suffer from so much sensuality?

The Uses

Dark rooms are best used to show off the objects of desires whether it’s a tub, a set of stairs or the spatial quality of the room.

Stairs. A room to show off a set stairs. Less is more.

A pure white tub against a dark paneled wall. A simple trick, really but effective.

The intricacies of the structure shown by small light sources.

And then, sensuous curves that leave us gasping and wondrous about the  simplistic beauties in life.

Photo sources: click on images for links.

Greige is the New Beige

Greige: the state of undyed, unbleached cloth. In the design world, it’s the new beige. A color with a rawness and unfinished look. In terms of color, it’s seen in the million shades of grey. It is also defined as a color between grey and beige. In terms of design trend, it’s the feel that you’d find in more modern homes, rustic modern (see my previous post) and traditional homes with a modern look. Benjamin Moore came up with a new color palette called Color Stories . The palette consists of 8 color volumes and it’s no accident that two volumes, “Shades of Gray” and “Naturally Neutral”  have greys and grays. Grey colors are traditionally vague since we have warm greys and cool greys and then we have colored greys under the umbrella of grey matters.  For specific greige colors, see my more recent post: “Name that Greige”.

Benjamin Moore used this image for inspiration when the company came up with some of the grey colors in their “Shades of Gray” color line. This image tells me a grey story that’s at the same time nuanced and broad in spectrum. I have yet to grasp the concept of full spectrum color – using no white or black in the base for paint – offering such a breathtaking array of greys. Another contradictory issue is that grey is supposed to be neutral or achromatic, yet warm greys are colors that have a slight pigment of yellows or reds while cool greys tend to show a tint of blue or green.

Well, enough about color theories and nomenclature. On to the visual goodies… The grey color family produces its own “grey areas” and its offspring can get quite complicated for some of us who are not equipped to be genealogists. So, we start with simply warm or cool greys which are the two predominant variants of the family.

Cool but borderline warm grey.

Nothing but warm grey. It helps to have an interesting space where one relies on geometry to set off the spatial play in a sea of greyness.

Definitely warm grey with the additional rustic textures.

Antiqued warm grey.

Warm grey with white background.

Cool grey metal tub setting the tone for the rest of the bathroom.

Cool grey works well in a bathroom especially when tied in with White Carrera marble.

Cool grey cabinets for a kitchen.

A nice balance of light warm grey and white.

 Grey doesn’t have to be in paint. There is depth when we see grey in the texture of salvaged wood.

Grey in concrete has its charm.

There is a fail proof quality in using plaster for grey in walls.

Grey in wallpaper!

One dimension greyness. It becomes quite dreamy when used quite monochromatically in the examples above. One has to be very assertive about liking this much grey and not be afraid of it becoming drab. There is a zen quality in this peaceful use of restraints.

Some of us would rather be more colorful with grey even if it’s just one little touch of color for accent.

Cool grey and light blue is a popular combination.

Light grey and green can be quite refreshing.

Orange with warm grey – how creative.

Cool grey works with orange as well.

Grey pairs well with its twin – Cool grey Carrera marble with warm grey wall.

Warm grey paired with gold – Who would have thought of that?

Grey has been the modish color to use when it comes to modern interior thanks to its neutrality in hues. But to achieve warmth, one has to resort to texture such as tile, concrete or wood.

Grey wood cabinet. Just the ticket to a warm modern interior.

 Who wouldn’t begrudge the owner this monumental concrete fireplace?  Such presence against the grey waters beyond.

Tile – More power to the wall when it’s clad in tile from floor to ceiling.

How much grey can one interior take? How does one decide how dark a grey can be?

One can play it safe with a light grey. Let the details speak by themselves, unencumbered by colors.

One can go quite dark with grey for mood and brood.

Is this greige trend going to be a short lived fad? Is it too depressing to have that much grey in one’s home? Is this a tell tale sign of our economic downturn? Does this only work in a colder climate since a lot these interiors might have stemmed from Belgian and Swedish interiors? Design in interiors is as trend motivated as fashion with the difference being that our season is a tad longer than quarterly. I think the trick is to use grey in a sleight of hand manner- light, quick flashes and easily adaptable.

For me, it’s the zen quality in using greige that I am most drawn to. If interiors speak to us in a language, let there be poetry in it.

Photos via: Benjamin Moore, Image Search @ Yahoo.com, shopgramercy.blogspot, greigedesign.blogspot, thebridescafe.tumblr.com, belgianpearls.blogspot, tenscenicdrive.blogspot, Peter Zimmerman Archtiects + Hobbs Inc., Homebunch.com, Brunchatsaks.blogspot, 1kindesign.com, goldchalk.blogspot, dewsonconstruction.com, Jonathan Adler, Traditionalhome.com, Decorno.blogspot, Annesage.com, Houzz.com, Casa.abril.com, Annsacks.com, myfrenchcountryhome.blogspot, rdujour.com, desiretoinspire.net, Richard Powers, Insideinside.tumblr.com.

Rustic Moderne – The Art of Rustication

The look of rustic in design has seen a more modern makeover thanks to Belgian architects such as Axel Vervoordt and Pieter Vandenhout.  We see rustic unlike the western log cabin or  French country interiors but more like a winterized trend with grey overtones, whitewashed and minimalistic decor.  Restoration Hardware has even overhauled their traditional furniture look to reflect this new rustic trend with its grey wood finish, linen upholstery, pared down furniture and a few overscaled accessories.

The first order of the day is to un-clutter. When the look is sparse, the walls take over. We see lots of integral plaster walls or scratch coat plaster walls.

The second step is to decide whether to use a cool grey or a warm grey palette. Warm grey seems to be more popular thanks to the warmth it brings into minimalistic spaces. Cool grey, on the other hand emphasizes the more modern aspect of a place.

Salvaged wood on floors, ceiling or on the furniture is a constant thread that immediately whisper “rustic” to the most muted decor palette. The wider the board the better.

The lack of accent color gives it an ephemeral feel.

Adding accent color is quite easy. One sees most colors working well with greige, especially when used sparingly.

A more difficult task is using dark wood finishes. Few can pull it off but when it happens, the space is surreal.

Textured variations, not color contrast is the answer in some cases.

Extreme contrast between stark modern items set against a rustic envelope makes the strongest statement while the more popular way is to house rustic woodsy items in pristine setting.

The oversized item: when I first set my foot in the revamped Restoration Hardware store, I was struck by their overscaled mirrors and first reacted  with thoughts of how hard it would be to use them.  As I dug more into this rustic trend, I found that changing the scale to something bigger works when the decor is quite muted and uncluttered. A big piece in the room can be quite sculptural with a strong presence.

I find myself getting stuck with what to call this trend. Sometimes, from lack of a better description, I have explained to clients that it’s the Restoration Hardware look. That was the easiest and most efficient way to conjure up the images of this new rustic look. I see other blogs calling it Modern Rustic or Rustic Modern. Maybe I’d settle for Rustic Moderne or simply Rustication.

Hmmm, I need a client who would embrace this look. Any takers?

Photos via: Axel Vervoordt, Pieter Vandenhout, Brockstreet.blogspot.com, Rikstorms.com, cotedetexas.blogspot.com, thepursuitaesthetic.tumbler.com, Greigedesign.blogspot.com, 50cherries.blogspot.com, vtwonen.nl, bing.com, Belgianpearls.blogspot.com, trendhomedigital.com

La Vie en Pink

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  “Think Pink”, I said to myself.  I remember the days my kids would have 20 some Valentine’s Day cards to make for their classmates.  We would busy ourselves gluing chocolate kisses to the cards, choosing pink  cards for girls, red for boys etc…  Now, for Valentine’s Day, I think I’d graduate to more sophisticated images to surround myself with even though I’d still be stuck with the color Pink.  Red somehow is not as ephemeral as pink for such a light hearted day (pardon the pun).

For this celebration, I am going to just bombard my readers with all shades and shapes of pink.  You can derive from them the meaning of love, life, and beauty as you wish.

 My favorite flower: peonies – complicated, nuanced, and multifaceted. One never catches two flowers with the same exact shape – like snow flakes.

Food – So important. Souffles have to be my favorite type of dessert. Light, subtle and delicate. I should try this raspberry souffle for my Valentine’s Day meal.

Having a nice Chanel dress in dusty pink wouldn’t hurt.

Drop a peachy pink couch in the living room – how else to make a big statement?

Well, a stronger statement would be this pink for cabinets in the kitchen. Kudos to the owner of this kitchen.

For someone as timid as me, I would gather all the pink flowers I could get my hands on and arrange them in a pink Chinoiserie vase and call it my tribute to Valentine’s Day.

When all else fails, I’d get lost in dreamy photos of pink wishes…

Pink spring.

and glimpses of a pink day to come.

Photos via: Bloom Magazine, Pickyin.blogspot.com, Elle.com, Decorpad.com, Sunset Magazine, Veranda Magazine, Shabbychicks.blogspot.com, Afinidades-eletivas.blogspot.com, Workman.tumbler.com.

How Pink is my Valentine?

From time to time, I tackle the use of one specific color.  The color that baffles me the most is pink.  I don’t often have requests for pink in my interiors.  I look into other designers’ use of pink and am floored by how cleverly pink is used in most elegant ways- perhaps a card short in my book of tricks.  Here is my tribute to Pink on Valentine’s Day.

Pink can be found in many nurseries since that ‘s the most obvious color to use for newborn baby girls.  It’s all about sweetness, softness and innocence.   We find some rooms that use  pink sparingly, and some that love pink with abandon.

And, we find that pink baths are easy to swing for as a color on the wall. Paint is ephemeral.  It lasts as long as we like it.  It’s the easiest thing to change in a room.

There are lots of examples where pink is used timidly – touches of pink scattered here and there as accents.

Pink is a great companion with grays and browns, and is loved by many other colors – beige, orange, even green sometimes.

A light pink room can play host to myriads of colors since pink is compatible with so many colors.

For die hard pink fans, one certainly can choose to use pink in bolder strokes and with more vibrancy.

The ultimate declaration of love to pink would have to be a pink kitchen!

Jonathan Berger did a  number in pink that’s fabulous – pink with black and white.

For the timid users like me, we could settle on pink table settings for an Easter lunch or romantic dinner.

Or cook up pink desserts…

When all else fails, when the pink solutions above won’t do, when I am still afraid of having too much pink in my environment, I might go for at least one of these:

A Chanel coat but without the hairdo.

A nice column dress if I have somewhere to go – again, without the hairdo, please.

Some nice bauble to write home about. Or the simplest thing that can put a smile on anyone’s face:

Photos via: Style at Home, Roxnn.wordpress.com, Landy and Arcari, The Style Files, House to Home, Dress Design Decor, Ariadne at Home, La Belle Vie, Michael Eastman, Axel Vervoordt, Traditional Home, Sunset Magazine (Pink Kitchen), Jonathan Berger, Martha Stewart Living, Happy Things, Ron Ben Israel  Cakes, Flagrantedelicia, Cake Central, Chanel Couture Spring 2010, Karen Sugarman Designs, Cannelle et  Vanille.