Have you noticed how many paint colors are named after natural elements like "Morning Dew" or "Coastal Fog" or "Willow Bud"? I didn't make those up. We've used all of those colors at different times in the interior of our house. You can tell from the names that they are all rather subdued tones.
But we've also painted rooms red, periwinkle, charcoal gray, and khaki. In our former house one wall of the kitchen was painted a striking deep rose. You couldn't see the wall until you got to the end of the room where the table was located. It was the spot where we hung our rotating "artwork of the month." Periodically we repainted that wall to add some extra ooomph to the art and to the room.
A couple of years ago, we looked at our Christmas poinsettia and thought it would be a great color to use on a wall of our current kitchen — another artwork of the month backdrop. The poinsettia was one of those modern varieties: a lush coral pink. We actually pulled off some of the bracts and took them with us to the paint store to guarantee a perfect match.
We were pretty excited when we began to paint and ignored our initial qualms, knowing that it can take a bit of time to get used to a more intense wall color. We snapped the shot below to mark the day and our progress. It also marks the moment we liked that paint job the most.
The poinsettia wall in progress with a painted Valentine's message. In the foreground, our kitchen table is covered with piles of half-sorted tax documents, draped with a plastic drop cloth.
Ultimately, that poinsettia pink proved an overpowering color in our small dining area. But what was the real clincher was that it also overwhelmed even our strongest, brightest artworks. After a few weeks, we repainted the wall a pale sage green and it's stayed that color for almost two years.
But that hasn't stopped me from looking at all kinds of other pink flowers and debating their merits as potential paint colors. These tulle-draped hyacinths, for example, virtually demand to be the starting point for a pink room. Or perhaps, not. Perhaps I'm stuck on pinks that shout when they should whisper.
I am completely enamored of this picture of hyacinths dressed for a Valentine party from the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.
A hot pink like the poinsettia bracts, or even the hyacinths, would be fine for an entrance hallway or powder room — someplace that you don't linger. But they won't work for any place where you want to spend time relaxing like a living room or, especially, a bedroom. There, the inspiration must be a perfect pastel pink.
Given how much we've all been looking back to the 1930s in recent days, I nominate one of the most famous floral namesakes of the era: the classic peony, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. It just may be a flower whose time has come again. Certainly it's layers of pale pink petals still speak to designers.
The images above and below demonstrate "the power of pink" when wielded by a pro, like designer Phoebe Howard of Atlanta and Jacksonville. Howard is known for her timeless designs and "keep it pretty" philosophy. Nothing could be prettier than this room with its vase of peonies, that may or may not be Mrs. FDR. But it's the touches of silver and glass — and the abstract landscape painting — that bring the room into the present and keep it from being cloying.
I haven't worn pink in years. Nor have I used it in an interior — the closest I've come is an apricot-colored dining room. But Howard has me almost convinced that peonies are the pink I should be picking at the paint store. And Roy Klehm at Song Sparrow Nursery has endless peonies to consider for boudoir inspiration. Among my favorites: "Companion of Serenity."
While I'm debating which room gets the pink treatment, I grabbed a pot of pink hyacinths at the grocery store this morning to get me in the proper mood. Now, I'm off to pick up some tulle — enough to wrap myself in, with some left over for the pot.