Saturday, May 14, 2011
Beige~ It's Atmosphere
"Beige is atmosphere. It's bisque, it's ivory, it's cream, it's stone it's toast, it's cappuccino. It's, well, it's magic." --Albert Hadley
Albert Hadley is an American interior designer of great renown. He has served some of our country's most elite; notably, Jacqueline Kennedy among many others. Mr. Hadley decorated the Kennedy White House as well as one of their private residences and later worked for Aristotle Onassis. I also read that he was the designer of choice for both the Astor and Getty families! This man's resume is amazing.
I was delighted to come upon the above quote while perusing a Victoria Magazine publication entitled Rooms of Bliss. The magazine was given to me recently by my friend Linda. If you are like she and I you find that from time to time a selective thinning of old magazines is a necessary chore. I use the word 'chore' because this culling process can be painful. I for example had more than a year's worth of Coastal Living stored very neatly in Longaberger baskets around the house. I love having quality magazines near comfy chairs. There is nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than to sit with a good cup of coffee and thumb leisurely through the pages of past issues. I find it hard to let them go.
I'm trying to understand how Linda was able to part with Rooms of Bliss. I feel like she unknowingly gave me thing of great value. Beneath the cover is page after page of exquisite intimate spaces that evoke feelings of delight and awe. I have turned these pages time and again; studying the wall colors, the moldings, the furniture and the accents. Why do some rooms wrap themselves around me such that I long to emulate their look? Has this ever happened to you? Just when you think your house has reached the pinnacle of personal expression and style you stumble upon a picture that speaks to you so deeply that you want to switch direction and begin the decorating process all over again?
Well, returning to real, I do want to mention how seriously I share Mr. Hadley's affinity for beige. He's right, it's magic. Beige is not boring. Who created the notion that a mother of the groom should 'wear beige and fade into the woodwork'? I personally think beige can be stunning if well chosen. Beige doesn't have to retreat. Not in a dress nor in a room. Beiges vary in intensity and in pigment. Some are ethereal and some are bold. Beiges may have elements of pink, gray, yellow, brown or even purple (as in taupe) and more.
The walls of every room featured in Rooms of Bliss are neutral. Some are strikingly intense, such as mud or adobe and others are what I would call a "whiter shade of pale"(meaningful to any child of the 60's); more reminiscent of a linen table cloth or a drapery sheer. But in each room setting the neutral wall is the great unifier; the "less" that is more. The furniture and accessories look perfectly in place because the neutral wall showcases them--allows them to take center stage. And in return the well-chosen furnishings make lowly beige look like a million bucks.
A few months ago I repainted almost every room in our house. My choice was Laura Ashley Taupe (from Lowe's). We have lots and lots of doors and windows and therefore lots of woodwork. I really love the way my crisp, white trim looks against my taupe walls. It reminds me a khaki pants worn with a white oxford cloth shirt. I am blissfully happy with my choice.
Consider how much beige we see in nature and how delicate the interplay of shades. I recently bought a dozen free range eggs and was surprised to find an array of tones ranging from very pale to boldly brown. Ponder the beauty of a wheat field as the shafts dance in the breeze. The color is never static. Seashells are another work of art. The above picture is of a shell I keep on an end table. I love its subtle markings-- such sophistication. Apparently God loves beige as much as I do. He has sprinkled it everywhere.
Our house is affectionately named, "Shell Cottage". The name was inspired by a nautilus that I treasure. I love the combination of browns, beiges and white. I love to collect shells, though most of the large ones I've had to purchase. And I love to collect smooth beige stones when I walk on the beach. To me their is nothing more soothing than the feel of a small stone that has been tumbled smooth by the ever-shifting tides.
Well thank you for reading through my ruminations about beige. If it were up to me beige would be a primary color! By the way, a doctor asked me recently if I dream in color. Hmmmm.... I think I dream in beige.