Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kitchen Redo—Step 2 Some Kind of Blue


“After work I’m going to The Home Depot,” Mr. Wonderful said putting his empty coffee cup and saucer in the dishwasher.
“Great,” I said returning the milk to the refrigerator.
“So I can pick up whatever blue paint you want for the kitchen,” he added.
“First I need samples: in light blue, dark blue and every shade in between.”
“You don’t know what blue you want?” he said closing the dishwasher.
“I know exactly I want,” I smiled.  “Just as soon as I see it.”

In the long-term, fixer-upper project that was “The House”, Mr. Wonderful and I had decided that he was the man of tools and I was the woman of design, comfort and color.  If we’d been on the Titanic that fateful night he would have been trying to repair the hole caused by the iceberg while I would have been serving drinks to passengers, color coordinating deck chair pillows and dancing to the band as it played its final set.

Admittedly his tool skills were more valuable in solving problems than mine.  Which isn’t to say he was ignorant about color.  On the contrary as a director he made dozens—maybe hundreds—of technical and creative decisions every day so at home he was more than happy to let me decide what went with what. 

Besides, he knew color was my forte.

Speaking of, I had a skill set too, which just so happened to include decorating, designing and putting colors with… other colors.  Some people may call me and my talents frivolous; and I say: go ahead.  Frivilous c’est moi!

After work I drove to Lowe’s and the Do-It Center where I collected a select number of paint sample cards—oh, like 300.  I grabbed a little this, a bit of that, and a boatload of those.  I was like that picky, piggy person at the salad bar who loads her plate with the freshest romaine lettuce, darkest spinach, deepest ruby red tomatoes and crispiest cucumbers that still smell of the organic Central California Valley farm soil they were grown in.  I noticed the soggy Chinese fried noodles and the dried out black Mediterranean olives and steered clear.  That’s how color is for me.  Names don't matter.  I have to see it to know if I like it. 

Which isn’t to say I was clueless about what type of blue I wanted.  As part of our kitchen remodel, we’d bought and had installed a steel Electrolux oven.  The model we got was called “Gorgeous with Four Gas Burners”.  To complement this functional beauty of a piece de resistance I wanted a blue paint with some silver or gray undertones.  I snapped up the color samples named: Blue Steel, Steely Blue and Blue-Gray Steel. 

Some companies’ color labels are more descriptive than creative.  And I admire that. 

When we moved into our house there weren’t any appliances, so we brought our white refrigerator with us and plugged it in.  It still worked and looked great so we felt it was silly (read: “fiscally irresponsible”, his words not mine) to buy another.  So as far as colors went, I also wanted a blue paint that complemented white appliances.  I snatched up card samples of paints called: 0647, S-H-570 and 123456789. 

Some companies’ color labels are precise in their utter lack of creativity.  And I don’t dislike precision.

The yellow dream kitchen that was partially responsible for inspiring me included a painting in the kitchen. Whether it was an oil created by Van Gogh or a piece of lined paper scribbled on by my niece in a kindergarten class, hanging original art in the home appealed to me.  One painting that I definitely wanted to use in our kitchen was of a huge turquoise coffee cup.  A dear friend of ours, Grun, had painted it for Mr. Wonderful when my husband came home after a long directing gig of an animated feature, which had kept him too busy for Grun—and out of town—for a year longer than the production schedule had initially planned.  Our friend is that kind of gift giver.  Grun knew I loved flowers so one year for my birthday he gave me a painting of a bouquet of flowers.  I still have it and after several years, I’ve never had to freshen its water. 

Having friends who give gift paintings is a perk to having artistic friends.  Having Art Center graduate friends who work in the Art Departments of Hollywood studios on blockbuster movies who give self-made paintings is a fabulous perk of having awesomely talented artistic friends.  I wanted a blue paint to go with this coffee cup painting.

So I needed a blue to complement stainless steal, white and turquoise, which would hide the dirt and that I wouldn’t tire of looking at for the next 10 years.  Easy task, right?

So easy. 

The next day as the sun shone into the kitchen I spread out all 750 paint samples on the table much to Mr. Wonderful’s chagrin.  Then I let my eyes flit over each one briefly.  Within five minutes I narrowed my choice down to… one blue.  I held the sample card up to my oven, my refrigerator and the coffee cup painting.  Bingo. 

“This is what I want,” I said waving the card sample at Mr. Wonderful. 
“What about all the others—?”
“I know what I want: and that’s you.  And this blue.  In my kitchen.”  Then I danced across the floor twirling the paint card in front of him.   

I didn’t fix any problems; I didn’t cure cancer; but I made him comfortable enough to laugh.  Sometimes complementary colors are as important as complementary partners.  And I respect that.