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color coordinated

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Mar 28, 2012 01:04 AM
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by bubba of the bubbles ( last modified Mar 27, 2012



One ofthe items on our todo list is to consider the colors of the house. At presentour default is white, aluminum, and raw wood. This is somewhat comical becausewhite is associated with a fear of color, and we are not fearful of color. Wepainted our previous house light purple, neonish green, bright yellow, titaniumwhite, dark purple, and caution tape orange. With a wee bit of red. And blue. Baby blue. Needless to say the neighbor was not happy with these color choices (whichsurprised us since her house was painted the color of a circus peanut withbright green trim; fortunately, she eventually learned to accept our colors). Butcolor is hard. And despite the menagerie of colors we used on our previoushome, we’re looking for something quieter this time around.

We’reboth into cars (me more than she). When a new car comes out that we’re fond of,we’ll debate what the perfect color is for said car. And there tends to be acertain color that makes a certain car pop. It might be red on this car, lightblue on that one, and army green on the next one. And you don’t know what theperfect color is until you see it. That color, whatever it is, just seems towork with that car, complementing and amplifying the design.

Thesame thing is true of houses, which is why architects prefer to choosethe colors. To many (most? all?) architects, color is a design choice intimatewith architecture. Most, if not all, of the original Modern masters chosethe colors of their houses, inside and out. Frank Lloyd Wright even designedclothes for his first wife to complement his architecture (unclear ifhis later, more spirited, wives allowed him to do this to them…).

One ofthe surprises we had with first designing a house was this color issue, and itwas a constant point of contention with Architect 1.0. Therefore, when wesearched for a new architect, we were clear that we wanted colors from the coolside of the spectrum (with a slight opening for orange, light blue, and black)so an architect could turn us away if that was against his design morals orconsider the color preferences up front as part of the design work. Unfortunatelyfor the architects, we have strong opinions on color. Fortunately, my bride andI are (mostly) on the same page (if not, that’s why God invented divorceattorneys!).

Whywhite? Good question. For me, white is calmer and allows other features to stepforward. Outside, white focuses attention to volume and turns a buildingethereal. Inside, white allows art, furniture, and people to take center stageinstead of walls. Painting a blocky building something other than white changesit, by our eyes, from Modern to Contemporary, and we do not like contemporary.

To acertain degree, color depends on context. We like the menagerie of color out atAgave, a burb of beautiful blockiness (see the background photo for the blog).But even there, the houses we gravitate to the most are adorned with coldcolors and materials.

Whiteis also historically accurate to the Modern movement. In their glee to removeall ornamentation from their structures, the original Modern mavens removed allcolor and settled on white. Richard Meier, a Modern revivalist that keepsattending the revival, wrote that “White is the ephemeral emblem of perpetualmotion. White is always present but never the same, bright and rolling in theday, silver and effervescent under the full moon of New Year’s Eve. Between theseas of consciousness and earth’s vast materiality lies this ever-changing lineof white. White is the light, the medium of understanding and transformativepower.”

OK, somaybe he had magic mushrooms in him when he wrote that, but you get the gist.Plus, white is all reflective, something that’s important in a climate with abrutal sun. (And the scientist in me wants to note that white is in fact allcolors combined, but I’ll resist. You’re welcome.)

So thatbrings us to our house today. A couple weeks ago we had what was probably fromthe architects’ perspective a bizarre conversation. It was about color. If yourecall, when we settled on Option B, the house had (ahem) color:

Analogousto finding the right color for a car, we won’t know the right color for thehouse until we see it. For Option B, it had a tannish color (wood? limestone?)in the front inset and green on one of the defined volumes to the right. Whenwe commented on Option B to the architects, we noted that we were endorsing thedesign of the volumes, not the colors. Colors would come later. Later is now now.

What wetried to explain to the architects was that while we weren’t opposed to color(we like the limestoney inset), the safe default for us was white (or gray). And we definitelydidn’t like the green. And we couldn’t tell them what colors we would likeuntil we saw it (although we like metallic colors, but even that’s not aguarantee).

Basedon that discussion and an attempt on my part to further explain our colorposition via email, Architect 2D send us this realization with the side volumein medium gray:

Architect2D noted that if we were good in Photoshop, we would be able to investigateother colors. Since I’m vaguely talented in Photoshop, that sounded like agrand idea! Color wheel: Look out!

First off, let's "paint" that privacy wall up front white:

It seems to me that darn thing needs to be white. The tan looks strange and seems to detract from the tan on the inset.

Now, let's focus on the volume to the right. Let's try...

Pink! Pink, it seems, is a no go. My bride even got angry at the thought ("What the hell!" she yipped.) She similarly doesn't like this green:

She seems to be generally anti-Easter. Read into that what you will...

So let's try the old stand-by, white:

Which looks OK (worse things have happened), but we understand why the architects want to add some color over yonder. It's a little nondescript. What if the grey was lighter?

That's a possibility... What about the baby blue we like:

This makes the bride grumble about Easter again (and threaten violence). Another possibility is a color to match the limestone:

Not exactly inspired. How about a deeper orange:

hmmmm.... What about steely blue:

Naw....  How about a deeper, more pleasant shade of orange, as if the orange has been...

burnt! It still seems to be missing something...

By jove, this could be it! 

Good thing we're not Red Raiders...




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