Cold weather can drive us inside for the next few months. Therefore, it's a perfect time to focus on projects that you normally wouldn't have the time to undertake. Devote a second look at the tiny utilitarian places in your home and strive for a visual pick-me-up as a way to ward off seasonal affected disorder. What better place than a laundry room, back porch or mudroom? Maybe it's also time to freshen up the basement?
I just came back from spending a week in the northwest and was reminded about seasonal depression due to lack of sun. I would think that folks in climates that experience months of dreary winter would lean towards the clear and vibrant colors that we seem to prefer in the southwest of our country. Yet this is not true. Instead, the colors most popular in the Seattle area are forms of gray. I believe this reflects the environment. And in Seattle, most of the time, the sky is some kind of blended gray. You see dark gray, medium brown/gray and very muted greens.
My intuition would be to strike out of the comfort zone and look for clear, lively color. It can be added to the smallest of places with cheerful results. This vibrant grass green adds punch. Even if you live in an old house with layers of crusty old linoleum on the old back porch, colorful carpet tiles can breathe new energy into a room. You can try out the kinds of fun colors that might scare you in a more public room of your home. Consider, too, a whimsical carpet with pattern such as a bold animal print or geometric shapes. One of the popular features of carpet tiles is that you can adjust the pattern yourself by ordering just the right amount of design versus plain tiles.
Along with a lively carpet, try out a more daring paint on the walls. Know that in an area that might get a lot of family traffic you might prefer a low-sheen or egg shell finish. These types of paint finishes are easier to scrub over time. Sunflower yellow or lime green could be quirky, but inject some vibrancy into an area filled with appliances. If the strong version of the color is too much, then have the paint store mix a fifty percent version of the color. Always take the time to test out paint, even if it is only going to be used in a small laundry room. You can buy little pints to test out and look at in all types of lighting conditions. This way, you will be sure about your choice before you invest a lot of labor.
I have a suspicion that for those living in freezing climes, you will stick with soft, dull color. Evidence can be found for this preference in the classic Swedish color schemes: White, gray and barely-there color. Very, very soft and pale blue-green is found in permanent features and furniture design. But the modern designers have embraced wild color in textiles and upholstery fabrics. Vibrant color explodes in a way that you would expect to find in Brazil! It's wild stuff. This reality further confuses me when I ponder the color preferences of the northwest.
A powder bath swathed in turquoise blue? I'd recommend it, even if it isn't common in the middle of Illinois or North Dakota. Because I live in a basically sun-drenched place, I do take color for granted. This is a light, bright and warm environment that rarely sees deeply saturated and dark skies. For those wanting to break out of a rut, try a more light-hearted color in some small place of your home this winter.
Photo Credit: Flor
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.