ugly beautiful

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Hello and happy Valentine's Day! What are you doing to celebrate? I normally don't really care about this obvious corporate American holiday, but that feeling was so pre-March 13th shut down. This year we're going big with a lunch reservation at our favorite restaurant. Judging by my recent outing at Trader Joe's, I will probably spend half the meal awkwardly chatting with the waitstaff about what my cat has been up to in the last 6 months.

Which is what brings me here, talking into the void about a subject that deeply moves me: UGLY COLORS.

About a year ago, a friend and I went to see Gwen Stefani in Las Vegas. Although Gwen ultimately did not perform due to illness (I theorized that it was some crazy illness going around that originated in China), we had an amazing time. Probably the most amazing thing though was an epiphany I had sitting at a bar, sipping on elderflower liqueur. As you do in Vegas, I loved people watching. It often enough entertainment alone to sit and watch life stream by in a dizzying fashion. And in the past, I had watched the hundreds of people around me, oftentimes with disdain and judgment. Why on earth would they wear that? Jesus, they're ugly. I am ashamed to admit it now, but I was one judgmental BITCH!

But this time around, something switched in my mind. I watched life go by and marveled at the kaleidoscope of color. This time, I just thought to myself, Everything is just so beautiful in its own special way. What had changed? Nothing but me. I think over time, I have taught myself to appreciate the variety in life, whatever that brings. Without taking some risks, life would be boring.

By now, you know my history with color (here's a bit of my story here ). Just a few years ago, I would retched at the mention of using any of these "ugly colors". And I definitely would NEVER ever ever use them in design. It seems funny to hate a color. Sure, there is color psychology and essays and essays about what color to use where. But that is no reason to eliminate them completely!

However, as I ramble down my design journey, I was finding it harder and harder to avoid them. No time was this more evident than in my living room sofa saga, which continues to this day. I had selected my favorite wallpapers and now I was faced with a choice. Samples in hand, I ventured out into the world to one of my fave LA furniture shops, Modshop, determined to be open to the universe and pick out the sofa of my dreams. The great thing about Modshop is that you can customize your sofa to your liking and have oodles of fabric choices. I was determined to approach this bit with an open mind and let the design gods guide my eye to the right color. And what to my surprise did I choose????

In the first split second, I had a sneaking suspicion the Modshop's staff was playing an elaborate mind game with me. THAT color? You think that color is beautiful? Do you have some running bet with each other who can convince the naive crazy lady that color is the right choice? Or you have to sell some surplus fabric and get rid of it? No way. And then I thought, Why do I hate it? Is it because I haven't seen it everywhere on my Pinterest? Have I been unknowingly been brainwashed by Crate & Whoever to buy only what they think is pretty? How far up does this go? I then... I started seeing it. This one simple color had conjured up so many feelings and challenged my ideas of beauty, I had no choice but to say "Yes."

What color did I choose? That will be revealed soon :)

Here are some examples of how "ugly" can actually be quite charming:

Big props to Frances Merrill @ Reath Design and Dabito @ Old Brand New for opening my eyes and mind on color.

Thankfully, the retail world has also woken up to this color revolution.

Warm, deep, earthy, inviting. Now, I can't wait to use these colors in my own designs! In fact, these kinds of colors are almost necessary to creating a warm, creative and balanced home.

For example, my original design for the TV room was this:

I wanted to keep it simple and clean, but somehow it seems a little cold and sad. I added a dose of sunshine and warmth and voila:

Suddenly, the bright blue couch suddenly makes more sense. I can't stop looking at it, I love it so much!

Lesson learned: all colors are beautiful, it's just a matter of being open-minded.

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