Thursday, September 22, 2011

Color Wheels and Rainbows

When a client asked me to help her choose colors based on the Color Wheel, I was a little unsure. Yes, I have an Interior Design Color Wheel, but, personally, I sometimes dig my heels in when I am told what I am "supposed" to do. I guess the Color Wheel falls into that category - being told what to do...

So, we sat down, looked at the front, chose our color, spun the wheel, then started to read the back of the card. We both burst out laughing, neither one of us understanding what to do next. We put it away, and chose the colors based on her favorite things instead. If nothing else, it was a lesson; it gave me something to write about, and left me wondering if I could explain it to my readers (just in case you're curious).

Did you know that the Color Wheel was invented in the 1600's by Sir Isaac Newton? It was originally based on sunlight - he separated the sunbeams with a prism, which created different colors (just like a rainbow), then joined them back together to show the natural progression. So, does that mean that if I look at the color sequence of a rainbow, and turn it into a circle, it will look like the color wheel? Well, I just tried it, and it does! The colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green. blue, indigo and violet ...

Now that I know where it came from, I understand it even less. Why are we basing our judgement on a rainbow? Does that mean that we should decorate according to all natural combinations? If I wear green and brown together, won't I just look like a tree?

Anyway, back to the story. The premise is that by spinning a wheel you will be told which colors go together, therefore, you will know exactly how to decorate your home. It begins with you highlighting the main color that you want to use. Once you do this, it will automatically bring you to the coordinating set of colors, based on a few guidelines. Complimentary (the color opposite the main color), Monochromatic (any shade of your main color) Split Complimentary (the two colors either side of your Complimentary) and Related (any shade that is either side of your main color). Confused? Don't be. If you are a bit cautious, maybe tones of the same shade would be a good beginning. More adventurous, choose the complimentary or split-complimentary colors.

If you buy an Interior Design Color Wheel, my advice is to read the directions, let it guide you, but most of all have fun playing with the spinning circle.
After all, it is just a round rainbow...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stories and Words

Once upon a time, many years ago.........our words were written on pieces of paper.

I thought of this line yesterday, as I was reading a magazine. My mind drifted to a time when words would become artifacts in a museum. I imagined we would all walk around with little hand-held electronic pads, tapping away; reading page after page by scrolling around, quietly, with our fingertips. I wondered if our hands would evolve into different shapes, to compensate for our new, technological habits?

Of course, I know that we can't stop our world from changing, but what I will miss is the process of "doing". We learn by doing. By making mistakes, and figuring things out. By touching things, and seeing how they feel. It makes us think as we go along. If we take that away, what do we lose?

Will we have no public libraries? A comforting, communal space for those of us who don't want to own every book we read. Who don't mind sticky fingers, and a story that goes along with each book; corners folded, crumbs caught in the middle of the pages, and the mild smell of paper, cigarette smoke and dust...

I go to the library because I want to go. I know the people who work there. They tell me if they have read the book that I am checking out, or who their favorite author is. They look questioningly at me if I have a pile that seems far too serious, and they stared at my stomach when I (unsuccessfully) tried to distract them from all of the baby books. They have become a part of my life.

Magazines, though different, are just as important to me. Yes, they could be deemed a waste of time, and I know that they are filled with advertisements for things that I don't need, but I love to turn the shiny pages. I always read them from the beginning to the end, no flipping ahead to find something interesting that caught my eye on the front cover. I patiently wade my way through, never knowing what I will find. Even though I will never buy a perfume that is hidden inside a page, I will always try it, just so I can wrinkle up my nose and go "peeuuw!" To me, they are like presents; I never know what is inside, but I appreciate the gift.

If I was reading a magazine, electronically, I know that I would check the index and scroll forward to whatever caught my eye. There would be no slow pleasure, as I waited to see what the next best thing would be. I would never see the shoes that cost as much as my mortgage, or the environmental car made out of grass. My needs would be impatient, and I would never enjoy it quite as much.

I worry, that in our search for instant gratification, we will lose the art of taking our time. That efficiency will be valued over humanity, and happiness will be something we download...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Budgeting for a Quick Fix

Driving around my town the other day, I noticed a lot of houses needed painting.With the price of everything going up, many people are putting home improvements to the bottom of the list. Of course, some are still doing repairs, but many are waiting until they can afford to replace the item, or get it fixed perfectly.

Right now, perfect may not be an option. Gas and groceries are taking up the main bulk of our budget, and buying new "stuff" makes us pause far more than it used to. I, also need my house painted, but knowing that I want to go beyond the traditional white, I am waiting until the Spring, because I know that the cost will be far more than normal.

However, I still want the front to look nice, in the meantime. So, armed with a small paintbrush, duct-taped to a really long stick (yes, really) I touched up the little bit where the paint had peeled off. No, it wasn't perfect, but it was just enough to hide (and protect) the wood underneath. This got me thinking, were there other short cuts that we could take, while we waited for the perfect solution?

- Peeling or chipped Paint: If you don't think you have enough paint to touch up the front of the house, add a tiny bit of water to the can to stretch it. Or, paint a bit of the color onto a paper plate, let it dry and take it to the hardware/paint store to get it copied. Buy a sample pot (less than $5-). It might be all you need.
- Linoleum Tiles lifting up: An all purpose epoxy, or floor adhesive, will stick it down. Clean the area under the tile as best as you can. Smoosh the glue underneath (be liberal), wipe away the excess, tape down the tile with painters tape, and cover with a brick for 24 hours.
- Cracked Ceramic tiles: Buy some tile filler. Either mix some matching paint into it, or, fill in the crack and paint it afterwards. If the tile needs to be replaced, see if you have an extra one. Chip out the old, clean up and replace with a new one. Not for the faint hearted, but easier than it sounds!

- Scratched, wooden furniture: Blend scratch by using shoe polish, crayon, strong coffee or markers. Then polish.
- Dirty, tattered, old sofas and chairs: Clean them with a can of foam upholstery cleaner, if needed. Turn cushions over, to get the nicer, less squashed side. Add (complimentary) throws, quilts or pillows to distract from the ugliness. Make it look deliberate, don't just put a horrible blanket on the sofa. Safety-pin it over the areas that annoy you. Move the furniture around, and put a nicer piece as the focal point.
- Cracks or holes in the wall: If you want to fix these yourself, there are so many easy, instructional videos that will show you exactly what to buy, and how to do it. It isn't hard, but it can be time consuming and messy; best for patient, neat people who are also organized enough to have plenty of leftover paint. If you don't have any paint, consider diverting the attention away from the crack with a nearby piece of art. Cover a hole with a picture. If you have a small amount of paint, try just taking a small brush and painting in/over the crack - it may be just enough!
- Small cracks in windows: Clear, large packing tape, applied neatly, should stop the crack from spreading, and will almost be invisible.
- Ripped screen in door: Not as hard as it may seem. There are actual screen repair kits, but I found them harder than replacing the whole thing (but, that's just me. ). The easiest suggestion, is to take the whole thing to the hardware store and look very helpless! They may, kindly, do it for you, or, at the least show you what you need, and how to do it. If you do want to do it yourself, first remove the rubber "spline", or whatever is holding it in place. Buy a new piece of screen and just put it back in the exact same way. Replace the "spline" by pushing down with a blunt knife. Trim the excess screen afterwards.
- Squeaky, loose or jammed door: Check all the screws and bolts to make sure they are tight, and lined up. Drip a tiny bit of vegetable oil down onto the hinges (wipe away excess).

Well, the list goes on, but I will stop here. Fixing (or hiding) a few things yourself, will make you feel more connected to your home, as well as give you a boost of confidence.
Your home will never be perfect, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't find ways to take care of it.
Photograph from http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/