Thursday, March 3, 2011

Validation: green and chartreuse

Green keeps creeping into my life.

I didn't plan it, and often I didn't even choose it, but my house has plenty o' green going on. The Danish modern armchair in the living room, a craigslist find by the hubs back in Brooklyn, is upholstered in green, and much as I keep meaning to change it, there it is. Green. Lots of our art features green prominently, from an overscale photograph we got when the bidder backed out at an auction to a small engraving of a tree that my aunt gave me to a watercolor from my dad for my high school graduation. Green finds me.

And this would be fine. Except. I'm really loving chartreuse (as you may have noticed.) And I've never been so sure about green and chartreuse together. In fact, half the reason I wanted to reupholster the Danish armchair was because, from certain angles, you could see it in the same line of vision as the (chartreuse) dining room curtains. They're not even in the same room, just in the same line of sight!

Anyway, one day I was going through some old tearsheets and I stumbled upon this.

It's from the old Cottage Living, and truth be told, there are 1001 things I love about this house. Maybe even more. And it was funny to see it again and notice that the designers used a lot of chartreuse, and in the living room they paired it with green. And what do you know: I like the overall effect.

This got me to thinking about the notion of validation. My first reaction was to think, hey! it's okay for me to have green and chartreuse after all! Lookie here--they did it in a show house! I suppose we look to those who are more "expert" than we are to say what is and isn't okay, what we should, and should not, do. Just tonight I was reading a piece by Mark Bittman in the NY Times about frozen vegetables (thanks to the hubs keeping my reading interests broad), and Bittman, something of a foodie and an expert himself, went looking for validation from someone more expert than he when it comes to his experience with the use of frozen vegetables.

The truth is, others can "show us how it's done," but in the end we have to do what we like. If frozen vegetables taste good to us, we should eat them, no matter what anyone else thinks. If we want to pair chartreuse and green, we should go for it. And by the same token, if we didn't like a color combination before a shiny magazine trotted it out, we certainly don't need to change our minds.

I am not worshipping at the altar of green and chartreuse. But I am allowing it to be where it seems to want to be. In the girls room, the plaid fabric that went on the beds has both hues, and I put chartreuse moire on the bolsters and green trim on another pillow. And guess what? The rug in there happens to combine both green and a metallic chartreuse thread, though I did not know this when I ordered it. In the living room, I decided to treat the green as a proper element, and embrace the chartreuse next door, rather than trying to ignore one or hide the other. And while I have to admit, I would never name this as a favorite color combination, there's something to be said for allowing these things to emerge.

I may be a control freak, but I can also acknowledge that a lot of decorating magic happens when you just let go.

What about you: did you ever make a decorating decision because a magazine said it was "okay"? Did you shy away from something you loved because it broke the "rules"? I'd love to hear about it.

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