Utter De-porchery part 2: porch color theory

So, when I finished with the furniture the porch had gone from looking like this:

Porch before

To looking like this:

Post-furniture revamp

And yes it was better, and a lot of people would have stopped and left it there. Which I did for about a week. Over the course of the week, well, if I am honest, immediately on finishing the furniture actually, I became dissatisfied with the terracotta planters I had purchased in the early weeks of our arrival here in the US.

In a desperate attempt to inject some life and personality into our place, and feel some sense of belonging, I bought a peony plant at Costco. My mother’s favorite flower is a peony, I remember them growing in her garden. They are, quite simply, beautiful.

My Costco peony

We never could grow them in Sydney, it is too warm, so being able to grow them here was a definite bonus (even though it meant I was living somewhere cold enough to grown peonies).

I purchased a terracotta planter to put it in, and another one that I filled with red pelagoniums. The planters were in the ‘closeout’ corner at the nursery and seriously cheap. I find it hard to resist a good bargain, and paint is a wonderful thing for transforming objects. Terracotta is nice enough, but I had always intending to mosaic or paint them at some stage.

Planter with red pelagoniums (in need of pruning) and another white flowered plant that looked good, but I cant remember its name.

That time had come. Time to paint them …

I wanted the pots to match the navy spray paint I had used on the chairs. Except I couldn’t use spray paint without un-potting, then re-potting the plants, so I used regular paint instead. Behr ‘Starless Sky’ to be exact: a fabulous deep midnight blue color. Powerful, luminous, dark. Lovely!

Behr's Starless Night

I used exterior paint, due to the fact that plants do better if you water them, even though these pots are under cover on the porch. This paint allegedly does not need an under-coat or primer, so I was able to paint straight onto the pot.

And, as always, Treadwell came along to do quality control.

Treadwell inspects progress

While the paint said one coat should do it, I ended up putting two coats on, to get a nice even deep finish.

Pelargonium planter after

Painting the planters definitely improved the look of the porch, and I also purchased a couple of other glazed planters (another green one and a blue one). This created a nice interplay between the deep matt surface of my painted planters, and the shiny glazed surface. Following on with the succulent (hard to kill) theme, I also obtained a rounded cactus to go in one of them, its pale green/yellow spines and darker green body fitted perfectly. I began internally debating what to put in the other pot:

After painting the planters

Things were starting to come together. But I was still not satisfied: it was all too matchy matchy, all too perfectly blended. What it needed was something to stir it up a little, and make it zing.

Which is where Matisse came into the picture:

Henri Matisse: 'La Gerbe' 1953

As I mentioned in my previous post, to get that sense of joyous celebration in his collage La Gerbe Matisse skillfully blends different hues of analogous and complementary colors. What are analogous and complementary colors, I hear you ask? Oh goody, time for some color theory. First let’s look at the color wheel:

The color wheel

The color wheel is a very useful tool for artists, we all know if you mix yellow and blue it makes green, and red and blue makes purple (as show above), and in art class at school when you mixed all the leftover paint together at the end of the lesson before you washed your pallet it makes a yucky sludgy brown color. Every time. The color wheel, however, is also very handy when you are decorating your home. Everyone should know some basic color theory, so you can embrace and use color knowledgeably, and not live in a Beige Palace, because color frightens you. Don’t be scared of color. Repeat after me: color is my friend.

Complementary colors are NOT colors that compliment each other. Quite the opposite, in fact. Complementary colors are those that are opposite one another on the color wheel. So blue and orange, green and red, yellow and violet. Complementary colors thrum and buzz when placed next to one another. When put together, they are busy, active and energetic. You probably dont want to paint your meditation room with complementary colors.

Analogous colors are next to one another on the color wheel, ie blues and greens, oranges and yellows, etc, etc. When put together they create a more peaceful vibe.

By using analogous colors on my porch, I had succeeded in creating what we would call an harmonious color scheme. Blues and greens carefully blended. Such color schemes are restful and relaxing, but I already had stupifying up to my ears with all that tedious beige. More restful I did not need! Following Matisse’s La Gerbe what I actually needed was to throw in a >POP< of complementary color. To shake and liven things up!

The easiest and most obvious way to do this was to add more planters. And more cacti and succulents. Cue another trip to the hardware store. Where I found these planters:

New pots prior to painting

Their groovy shapes were just perfect for cacti and succulents. But what color to paint them? Ace Hot Tamale, of course!

How could you not paint a something a color called Hot Tamale?

Some tips for choosing color from paint chips in the hardware store. Take your fabric, or a cushion or something from the room or object you are going to paint. In this case I took a paint chip with Behr Starless Night on it for comparison. ALWAYS take the paint chip, and your comparison thing outside and look at them in daylight. The lights they use in hardware stores seriously alter colors. Some hardware stores now have a ‘daylight’ thingy you can hold the paint chip under to counter-act this, but I still recommend taking the chip outside.

If you are painting a room, get a sample pot and try it on a couple of the walls. For the same reason you take the paint chip outside at the hardware store. Colors can look completely different in different spaces. Your luscious purple in the hardware store may look hideous puce in your room. Look at your painted samples at various times of day before you purchase a large quantity of paint in that color. It is a complete nonsense that lighter colors make a room look brighter and larger. But more on that another day …

Generally speaking colors will look lighter outdoors, and darker inside. So I went for an intense red-orange as complementary to my deep dark navy blue.

Hot Tamalification in progress

Once the planters were painted I was ready for the final stage of my de-porchery. Putting it all together …


2 responses to “Utter De-porchery part 2: porch color theory

  1. Very nice! I love how you’ve used Matisse’s La Gerbe as inspiration for your decorating!

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