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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Sweetest Goodbye

 photo by rhoadeecha

 Do you ever feel like a kid in a candy store? Well, lately I do! I feel like there are new opportunities coming into my life adding to the other ones that are already so sweet.

 Almost a year ago, I made the huge jump to get an office in Alameda, CA. While it was GREAT to move all of my colorist supplies out of our home office, it also became the prime location for my second business.  As you can see from the last post, I am a passionate thrifter.  My second business was born when busy friends offered to pay for designer and vintage items I found for them.  Following my passion, a fledgling part time business was born called Port 16 Pop Up Boutique (named after my first little office in Alameda).

 View from my current window

While I continue to do color consulting, I am also working on this side business. Now I am moving my office into the village where I live to make it more convenient for me and my clients. I will miss the view of San Francisco but I will love being able to walk to work! So much good stuff but something's gotta give! 

 As I sat down tonight to write a post on a recent, wonderful kitchen remodel I worked on, I realized that while I love to share my projects and thoughts on color, I have lost the passion (and time) for blogging.  I still love to write and assemble pretty pictures, but I realize I DON'T love the time that must go into a decent blog post.

 Blogging is for many designers is nearly a full time occupation. And so many in the color/design field are brilliant at it! Some of my fellow colleagues over the years have decided that blogging is simply too distracting and takes away time from other projects, work, and life.  So I have decided to leave the blogging to the professional bloggers and make time for all of the other fun color and clothing projects I've gotten into. 

However, this is far from goodbye!  I really hope you will "LIKE" my little page on Facebook. I will be posting before and after pictures here as well as colorized pictures of how I'd like to redo architecture given the chance (one of my favorite things!)  I am also on Pinterest and have a board related to color and one about design.  Feel free to meet up with me there! 

Facebook: Architectural Color by Marie
Pinterest: Pinterest
Port 16 Pop Up Boutique:Port 16 Boutique

 Many of you have followed me for nearly 5 years and for that I say a profound and grateful THANK YOU!!!! 


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy New Year and Happy Thrifting!

 Happy New Year!  Now that we are one month into 2013, I thought I'd start a new blogging year with another passion of mine....thrifting

I have been thrifting on and off for over 30 years, uh, before it was cool to be seen in a thrift store. This started for me and my best friend in high school when money was too tight for clothing from our local mall. It was a huge secret we kept from our classmates out of fear of ridicule.  Now the teens I know consider it a point of pride to show off their latest finds!  There are now blogs, websites and even songs devoted to thrifting!

Thrifting has seen a huge uptick since the economy tanked. It also makes environmental sense to reuse what others cast off and keep it from landfill.  Let's face it, with so many home bloated with way too much "stuff", it's no wonder most thrift stores are busting at the seams with many great ...and yes, tacky, items. So many of us have tired of getting yet more stuff from big box stores and yearn for something with a little history and quirk.  From a design and color point of view, it's a great way to add some personality and interest to your home.  There is nothing more boring than a home that looks like it came straight out of one company's catalog.  Anyone can do that!

What I love about thrift finds is that it makes you take a harder look at the color, design of an object and incorporating it into you home more so than if you simply plucked it from a magazine where it's already featured.  

My personal taste runs to mid-century modern which, sadly, is very sought after these days! Here are just a small sample of some of my favorite finds:

 Any sort of mid-century glassware or bowls. If I find only a single glass, I use it at the bedside as a water glass.

 Little tile trivets and plastic Melamine type plates are another favorite for display

 The fireplace mantle usually houses many of my finds. The red 1960's lamps (only one shown here) were a gift from a friend while the metal candle holder, mini globe, and chrome auto piece were thrift finds.

The turquoise Philco radio was being overlooked at an estate sale in a house flooded with people!
Only after I purchased it, did some people admire it as I walked out. 

 This is one of our all time best finds and I have to give my husband full credit for this.  It even came with an 8 track tape still jammed inside!  Poster in background is from IKEA.

I've been admiring cane-back chairs lately and found this lovely orange one on Craigslist....but I have seen a few in thrift stores.  They are very popular right now so they move quick!  I took some Aura paint left over from my office and got rid of it's 70's vibe.

And don't even get me started on clothes!  In fact, I started a little side business with some of these clothing finds, but more on that another time.  Below are some of my typical finds.  It's not unusual to find a Prada sweater and pair of Marc Jacobs shoes!

 Here are some other great ideas I found online:

This dresser transformation is simply amazing!  So often, there is older furniture out there with great lines.  Just a little paint can make it the focal point of a room.  And you'd be hard-pressed to find better built furniture for three times as much at your nearest big box store!

 Billie Monster

 As I mentioned earlier, Craigslist is also a great resource for finding items.  I can't tell you how many lovely velvet couches I've run across online!  Often these 30 or 40 year old couches are in colors that have come back into vogue.

Same idea with glasses; sets of dishes that you like may be difficult to find, but combining one offs together like this is an amazing idea!

 Lisa Congdon

The beauty of combing new items and used finds are reflected in some of my favorite photos:
All of the Above Blog

While most of the art at thrift stores is pretty easy to pass on, you can sometimes find some great stuff or at least nice frames.

 Hilda Grahnat

 You certainly don't have to go crazy with used items.  Just a couple of piece can really make an impact.

Even music is reflecting the love of thrifting!  Here is Macklmore and Ryan Lewis with their hilarious song Thriftstore (warning; strong language).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Black Dining Rooms and Why I Took the Plunge

 Back when we moved to Oakland 12 years ago this month, I was 7 months pregnant with a 2 year old underfoot.  After getting outbid on house after house, we purchased our adorable cottage style home here in Montclair Village.

 Montclair Village during weekly farmer's market

I'm convinced that the only reason we got this home during the bidding wars, towards the end of the tech boom, was the fact that it was not staged (very unusual for this area) and did not present well. It was filled with pinch pleat curtains, very dark rooms and the older, outdated furniture of the elderly couple that once lived there. 

The dining room and entry was adorned with busy wallpaper that, in my late pregnancy state, made me cranky.  Vines and flowers snaked along the whole area. Hand painted brown waterfalls on wallpaper, that probably cost a mint back in the day, looked depressing. Along with lime green shag carpeting over the gorgeous hardwood floors, the master bedroom had flocked wallpaper which required expensive removal.  I was faced with the task of quickly deciding paint colors for the entire interior.  The previous owners were deceased and had built the home for their family with much love and it showed in it's beautiful bones. I wanted to do right by this home.

 I had not only given up my profession in respiratory therapy the previous year, I had left my much loved interior design and architecture program at West Valley College in Saratoga.  One of my favorite classes had been a semester of color theory. 

Armed with my basic knowledge and trusty eye for color, I picked a whole house full of colors in 3 days.  Back then, I knew nothing of testing colors, contrast, light reflective values, etc.  I just had a decent eye for color and some basic color theory knowledge.  My painter was furious that I chose different colors for each and every room.  I guess he thought I'd pick a nice beige and white and be done with it! At the end of painting he told me he was quite impressed with the colors and asked if I would be his color consultant.  I had never heard of a color consultant! What do they do?

 He explained his clients really needed help choosing colors and he thought I had a talent for it.  I was quite flattered, but the new baby and toddler were going to be filling up the days. No more design school and certainly no new career.

The dining room was a special challenge.  I did pick up from my class the difference in yellow based red and blue based red.  I spent most of my time on this room looking for a slightly bluer based lacquer looking red and eventually chose Benjamin Moore Heritage red in high gloss.  Because our painting budget had run out, my poor father-in-law took over the challenge of painting this room.  High gloss can be very tricky because it does not self level well and shows brush strokes.

Fast forward many years and an article I read in Real Simple led me to the IACC (International Association for Color Consultants) color education program for color professionals.  Working in color consulting over the last 5 years, my dining room color started to get on my nerves. It was just wrong for the space. The red, while truly gorgeous, was in sharp contrast with the white ceiling.  What really looked off was the wood paneling with it's heavy orange undertone, most likely due to the aging clear coating from decades ago.  I had taken off one of the storage doors for display space but it was still all wrong.  Add to that the passing phase of red dining rooms that had once been so popular. I've found that the biggest protesters of color changes are often children.  My kids, now 14 and 11, were not happy about getting rid of the red.  It was all they ever knew!

I finally decided on painting it black.  Kinda like the Rolling Stones song.

  I had seen a few black dining rooms in shelter magazines over the years that stuck in my mind. But not just any black. Not all blacks are the same, believe it or not.  There are ink blacks, chalky blacks, charcoal blacks and so on. 

I ended up deciding on Black Iron by Benjamin Moore.  I got a few giggles from my friends who told me it sound like another Marie choice I would somehow make work!

 My wonderful painter, Carlos, raised his eyebrows like he often does at my own home color choices and said, "Ok, lady!"  It was done very quickly and even he was surprised at how nice it came out.  He remarked that he had never painted a black dining room and just loved it.

 What keeps it from getting overwhelming and cave-like is  1. the abundance of natural light. This room gets south light most of the day and western light in the evening 2. large amounts of wood break up the wall space 3. mirrors and other decorative accents.

 The black is kept in check by these details and stays in harmony with the other room elements instead of taking over the whole room.  A co-star instead of the star.

Here's the room about two months after painting and dressed up for the holidays.

Here are some of the dining rooms that helped influence my decision:

 Domino Magazine

 Elle Decor

  Cindy Gallop's Apartment in Manhattan

 Elle Decor

Metropolitan Home

Now onto our home's exterior this summer. Decisions, decisions!  More on that to come!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Beige Buildings Make Me Cry

  Source: Cecil Castelucci

This post has been rattling around in my head for so long, I thought it was about time to commit it to my blog.  Obviously beige gets a hard knock as being boring and bland. This is not original news. In all fairness, it certainly has it's place in architectural color and I use it often to bridge or hold hands with other colors.  Beige can be a fickle friend to work with and can broadcast green, yellow or even pink undertones that can wreck havoc on an entire color palette.

My main peeve is when it's used on large exteriors en masse either as a lazy, quick decision or in a misguided notion of trying to choose the least offensive color to the public. From a maintenance point of view, it's somewhat cheaper to maintain buildings with less of an assortment of colors.

But what is saved in maintenace cost is lost in public perception.  It can end up sending the message of "rental" to the observer. It often looks cheap or even an eyesore to the public.  Beige buildings can also be overlooked or under appreciated as they fade into their surroundings but are not enhancing their surroundings.

Source: House Beautiful

I see two sorts of overlooked opportunities.  The first one is using beige on an entire building that otherwise doesn't have a lot of architectural interest.  The other is "beiging" a building that has quite a few architectural and historic qualities.  Color should be used both to give some character to a bland building or hide some of it's more glaring flaws.  Color should also be used to highlight wonderful elements on great architecture.

Now, keep in mind that setting is everything and each of these buildings is located in neighborhoods that boast vibrant architectural color as well as buildings from many different eras.

I see this above building virtually everyday when I drive my older son to high school.  It's in a wonderful neighborhood which is home to two art schools and residential homes of many inspiring, unique exterior color palettes.  While not actually a terrible beige, it's just missing out on something better. It's an interesting building that would lend itself to separating out some of it's layers.

It could stay relatively monochromatic or have a little more contrast and color.  Since this is one of the taller buildings on this street, I'd probably not go nuts with the levels of color which could overwhelm the rest of the area.

This next building is not far from my office.  It's contains rental properties and boasts great Victorian architecture.  Why not celebrate that and highlight it's elements?

 This apartment building is one of the few mid-century buildings down a long street of residential and rental properties.  It has some great stone and woodwork that deserve a more playful hand.

 This last building is also on the same street as the previous one and I've probably driven by it hundreds of times without really noticing it.  It has some great International Style architecture that I'd love to see highlighted.

 Although I'm not a huge fan of cooler white with the lighting situation here in the Bay Area, it's interesting and appropriate to add into the mix sometimes.

Taking the easy or more inexpensive way out of coloring a building can not only end up sending the wrong message to the public, it can broadcast negative feelings to many who encounter it. Thoughtful color is the best gift you can give to not only the inhabitants of your building but to those of us who encounter it on a frequent basis.