by Leigh Perry / Toni L.P. Kelner
We at the Femmes talk a lot about creativity because we are, as you know, creative people and great admirers of creativity. In fact, until recently, I'd have been willing to say that we are some of the most creative writers around. But then I realized that there are writers who make our prose seem colorless. Literally. I'm talking about the writers who come up with the names for paint colors.
Over the past period-of-time-that-seems-like-forever, my husband and I have been involved in a kitchen renovation project. I say involved in because we're not actually doing the work. We have a stream of guys who do that for us: a designer, several appliance experts, a plumber, an electrician, countertop installers, and Paul who does everything else. What Steve and I have to do is make decisions. So many decisions.
- What design of cabinet? What color wood? What about drawer pulls? Or do you prefer knobs?
- Counter depth refrigerator? Ice maker? Water dispenser?
- What shape do you want your sink? How many holes for the faucet? Touch less?
- What about a back splash?
- Granite or quartz counters? Color?
- Flooring tiles or wood? What color tiles? Texture? Size? Horizontal or vertical arrangement?
- Gas or electric stove?
- Recessed lighting fixture or hanging lamp?
And so on and so on and so on.
We'd been navigating the myriad choices pretty well it was time to pick a paint color for the wall. Steve brought home a STACK of paint chips, those squares and rectangles and brochures of different color choices. (He'd brought some of just about everything except yellow, because he didn't want yellow.) We'd been thinking maybe blue, but which blue? And suddenly we came face to face with the true creativity of those people who name paint colors.
- Sweet Lavender? That doesn't even sound blue.
- Celestial Skies? Not so godlike as you might think.
- Melodious? Didn't hit quite the right note.
- Blue Macaroon? Sounds delicious.
- Blue Iris? Didn't bloom for us.
- Swimming? All wet.
- Jay Blue? Not going blue jay way, thank you.
- Salty Dog? That ship has sailed.
- Reflecting pool? Just couldn't see ourselves in it.
- Double Lapis? Not even if it were triple lapis.
- Orion Blue? The stars said no.
- Stone Mountain Blue? Most sones aren't blue.
So we left blues behind and went for reds and browns:
- Perennial Red? I think we'd get tired of seeing this one all the time.
- Plum Brown? A brown plum is a dead plum. No.
- Framboise? I don't know what that is.
- Posh Red? Not for everyday.
- Moving Melody? It may be moving, but we're not going with.
- Spanish Tile? Hey, we picked tiles already.
- Borscht? I was pretty sure we could beat it.
- Salute? Too military.
- Sundried Tomato? We're really more into fresh tomatoes.
- Jazzy Red? Too loud.
Okay, what about something totally different? All those random colors in the big brochures beckoned like kitchen wall rainbows.
- Monochrome? No, we definitely wanted a color.
- Steely Gray? That's what color the refrigerator is.
- Jagged Granite? Sounds painful.
- Debonair? I couldn't live up to that dress code.
- Blue Endeavor? Trying too hard.
- Olympus White? I know white, and that's not white.
- Morning Fog? If I spilled coffee on it, would it go away?
- Ash Violet? Looked like purple to me.
- Intellectual Gray? Is this where the expression "smart as paint" came from?
- Great Griege? I think it's a combo of gray and beige. I didn't find not-so-great greige.
- Sensuous Gray? From the AARP collection.
- Impulsive Purple? Decided against it immediately.
- Priscilla? I knew a gal named Priscilla I didn't like.
- Domino? Don't mess with me--that's black.
- Tame Teal? I think I'd prefer Untamed Teal.
- Magical? Did not cast a spell on me.
We went through every one, and still weren't thrilled. I idly wished Steve liked yellow, because I thought yellow might work. He looked at me and said, "But you didn't want yellow." "I thought you didn't want yellow." "That was because I thought you didn't want yellow." Eventually we realized yellow might be what we were looking for. But which yellow?
Back to the store to return with an alarming array of absurd names.
- Whole families of yellow: Viking Yellow, Banana Yellow,Fiesta Yellow, Imperial Yellow, Light Yellow, Hawthorne Yellow, Delightful Yellow, Bold Yellow, Poetic Yellow, Yellow Highlighter, Yellow Lotus, Crowne Hill Yellow, Yellow flash!
- Chests of gold: Golden Impression, Golden Groves, Oxford Gold, Stuart Gold, Marblehead Gold, Golden Lock, Golden Wash, Golden Orchards, Golden Bounty, Goldfield, Highlight Gold.
- Trees of lemon: Lemon Grass, Lemon Souffle, Lemon Meringue, Iced Lemon, Lemon Sorbet, Lemon Chiffon Pie, Limoncello, Lemon Drops, Lemon Slice, and of course, Lemon.
- Variations of butter, cheese, bananas, sunlight, moonlight, starlight.
- Outliers like Squish-Squash, Popcorn Kernel, Ambiance, Bumblebee, Cuixmala, Itsy Bitsy Bikini, Pure Joy, Lightning Bug, Little Angel.
We looked at them all against our cabinets. If a color passed that, we looked at it against our counter. Those that passed that, against our flooring. And after all that, there was nothing left. We decided we didn't want yellow after all.
Instead we went back to a color we'd liked in the very first brochure we'd looked at. We liked it against the cabinet. We liked it against our counter. We liked it against our floor. And the very next morning, when the sun was up, we switched again and I think we're set. I'm not going to say what it is, because who knows, we may decide the color name is either too creative or not creative enough.
At this point, all I can say for sure is that the trim and ceiling will be white. Just white. Apparently there are limits to my admiration for creativity.