color is subjective

When I heard that Pantone's choice for color of the year was Honeysuckle, I immediately thought of the honeysuckle vine that climbed the lattice of my grandmother's porch. And was expecting a pretty yellow, not the dark pink that they chose to represent the color. That's the problem, I guess, with naming something after a flower that has 180 species (and presumably 180 different colors).


I actually started this post a while ago but was reminded of it today when I received an email from retailer Ann Taylor announcing their new hue for spring - Fresh Tulip. Not a bright red like you might expect when you think of tulips, but a lavender purple. Now, tulips have even more colors than honeysuckle does, so you can see the problem.

The reason I wrote this was that a friend posted on Facebook that she was repainting her living room with a color named Alpaca, which she said was just another name for a neutral beige. I'm not sure when this naming of colors thing started — maybe it was Martha Stewart who started the trend with her paint line for Sears. My bathroom is painted with a color called Sea Glass which sounds a whole lot better than aqua and fits perfectly with my seashore-themed bathroom. But, I've seen real sea glass in all sorts of colors and who's to say that you don't think Sea Glass is a different shade of green than what I picture.

So, yes, color is personal.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, where Myrna Loy, who plays wife to Cary Grant's ad executive, is discussing colors with their contractor and house painter:

Muriel Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green.

Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong!

Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There's some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear?

Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white.

Now for the powder room - in here - I want you to match this thread, and don't lose it. It's the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me...(she leaves the room here)

Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie?

Charlie the Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

Mr. PeDelford: Check.

And that just about says it all :)


Mary said...

I love that scene. It is hilarious...and it is so true about colors. I'm with you on thinking a color named honeysuckle would be a lovely yellow shade. Pink, not so much.

Unknown said...

HaHaHa...I was thinking of that movie just the other day. You guys are thinking of the invasive..really smell good honeysuckle of Grandma and Mom's day. Today the honeysuckle variety so popular at the box stores is a not so invasive nor fragrant variety, but is a shade of pink.
Woohoo for the man-made variety

MomWaldsPlace said...

Actually I think it was Crayola, and I soooo want that job!

Love that scene in the movie, love it.

Ric Rac and Polka Dots said...

I rented that DVD after reading your description and then doing a search on the internet. I wanted to get a look at the movie and it looked so cute I had to see it. My mom and I enjoyed it! Really fun. I loved your post about the whole color thing. Very cute, and so was the movie. Thank you so much for posting about it!
Julie Ric Rac and Polka Dots

Ric Rac and Polka Dots said...

By the way, it took me over 2 years to find the exact shade of blue I wanted for my bedroom. A sky blue, but not too deep. Kind of a soft vintagey feel, an aqua blue, with a little green and a little gray, but not too much gray!
Can you see why I could relate to the movie?
Anyhow, I got the right color and absolutely love it. I'm glad I waited!

janet said...

It really is one of my favorites. So many funny scenes and witty dialogue. And Cary Grant, too!