Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let The House Tell You Its Colours

Colours are the first that comes to mind when tackling a new project. Coming from West Germany, I am currently living in Saxony in a townhouse (left) built around the turn of the 20th century, for which I chose very bright, saturated colours. A dark, warm brown for the drawing room (and yes, it's the first room I have that merits such a description), a very dark, peachy pink for the bedroom, a brilliant red for the dining room and a dark emerald green for the office/study. Due to the circumstances, it had to be done in a hurry, all I could do was to look around, let the rooms briefly talk to me and then take a deep breath and choose the colours from a chart. I saw the finished work only when I moved in. I was lucky, however, the housepainter had done a good job and I was basically pleased how the colours worked, specifically together with the house.

By the way, I had the whole place laid with terracotta tiles because of an old, incontinent dog. They go well with almost any style, or at least so I think. The house has a lot of original period features, not for the sake of them, but because the modernisation after the reunification was performed as cheaply as possible.

The brown is just lovely for a big, high room with a lot of decorative china and gilt-framed paintings. The room has three tall windows and a lot of light until in the afternoon, but, frankly, I would have chosen the colour anyway. "Light" was never anything that appealed to me in terms of living space. I have no idea what a shrink might make of that, but that's how it is.

The pink of the bedroom goes a bit on my nerves now, after almost 16 months, and I don't think I'd have it done like that again, although the colour scheme (dark peachy pink/gunmetal grey/black) turned out very well. Maybe it's a bit too "camp" (a word I've just learned) to be truly comfortable.

The bright red for the (small) dining room was a catastrophe at first. Had I had enough courage to go for an oxblood-red, all would have been fine, but the bright red looked just ghastly with an Afghan rug, dark red velvet curtains and oil paintings. Like a downmarket Victorian horror. One was virtually looking for the gaslights. Being out of a budget, I was pretty desperate. No way that I could employ a housepainter again and I am lousy at DIY-jobs. Too clumsy and too easily bored and irritated. So I bought a simple rug, woven from natural wool (€50.00), a remnant piece of curtain fabric with bright red and white stripes of which I had curtains made (material and work €35.00) and exchanged the oil paintings for engravings. The result was pretty much like the picture on the left (in fact, I found it in the Internet and it gave me the idea for the changes in the first place), although, of course, much less grand.

I love the dark emerald green for the office, although one of my best friends hates it and calls it, rather wittily, my "fishbowl".

The new old house in Marienberg can be done up in a much leisurely fashion now, and I will be there to supervise or even to add some own efforts, lack of talent permitting. It already told me that it doesn't like bright, saturated colours, the house did. But that's about all upon which we can agree at this stage, the house and I.

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