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Friday, January 2, 2015

GUEST POST: For the Love of Color by Renée Camus

Rounding out the last in my guest posting series (thank you so much ladies, really made keeping up with blogging while recovering and playing catch up with my PhD work a cinch), I have Renée Camus from Geek Adjacent talking about the use of colors. Check it out!


I just returned from my niece’s wedding in Cancun, a beautiful destination wedding on the beach. It was lovely, and I’m so happy for her and her new husband. The ceremony took place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, just as the sun was beginning to set, and the color of the sky was absolutely gorgeous. It reminded me just how much I love color.

This was actually the fourth time this weekend I thought about that: how much color means to me. I know that sounds simplistic, but it’s fun to be reminded of those simple ideas. It’s a little ironic too, since I wear a lot of black clothes, but I really love color, and would rather have color than not. At least three times this weekend, color came up in conversation surrounding items that people expect to be limited to certain shades, but to which I say, why?

For example, cars are much too restrictive in their variety of colors. Fortunately, you can find at least red or blue (like mine), and occasionally orange or dark green, in addition to the white, silver, and black vehicles that pollute the highway. I’ve also talked about the lack of color in makeup before. The trend now is for neutral colors, like beiges and browns. But why not purple or pink? I have blue eyes, so I like to wear makeup that brings out my eyes. I also just love color, so why not play with it?

One of my other nieces is trying to sell her house, and her real estate agent told her what we’ve all heard before: to paint the walls a neutral color. I suspect that people think walls have to be neutral colors: white, off white, eggshell (which is off white), tan, beige. Maybe if you’re lucky you can get away with a very pale yellow. I think real estate agents tell you this in an effort to remove any personality from the house, so the new owners can envision it as their own. But then they also limit themselves to those simple colors.

When we bought our house in Maryland, it was all white, and looked ghostly. We immediately repainted nearly every wall in the house, using colors like maroon and dark purple for the living room, forest and deep green for the office, sunrise orange for the kitchen and dining room, and lavender and blue for the ballroom and the foyer. It was beautiful. Yes, it’s not for everyone, which is why they tell you to return to a neutral color when putting it on the market, but we loved it and it was a great way to express our personality.

I didn’t want to repaint, not just because it would be an additional expense and a pain in the butt, but because I love the colors we chose. We asked our real estate friend if he felt we needed to do it, and he said no. People generally liked the colors so much that it was more a selling point than a detraction. In fact, more often than not when our friends came to the house, they felt inspired to make the same changes in their own living spaces (choosing their own colors, of course). We helped them see how alive and vivacious the space can be with a little color.

Another conversation this weekend revolved around my hair. One of the guests, someone I’d met before but didn’t know well, asked me “what the deal was” with my hair. I have purple in my hair, and she didn’t understand it. She smiled when she asked, and wasn’t trying to be judgmental, and I’m afraid I may have been a little snappy with my answer, which I felt badly about afterward. But I didn’t quite understand why she was asking. It’s true, purple is not a typical color for hair, but at this point, I’m surprised she hasn’t seen it before. It’s become somewhat trendy, unfortunately, to dye your hair unusual colors.

The simplest answer, frankly, is that I like it. I think it’s pretty. In fact, I like the streak, and the color purple, enough that I’ve decided to make it part of my brand. I’m also in a position, unfortunately, where I have to dye my hair regularly. At this point, my natural hair color is grey. I hate it, and I definitely don’t feel as old as grey hair makes me look, so I’m not going to keep it that way. Since I’m at a point where I have to dye my hair anyway, why not do what I want with it?

Truthfully, I’m not sure how much I’d dye my hair if I didn’t have to. It’s definitely an expense I could do without, given the option—but I think I’d still continue to put a streak of purple in my hair. When you think about it, why should hair color be limited to natural colors? Why restrict yourself to blonde, brunette, red, or grey? Why not treat it as a blank canvas and use green, blue, purple, orange, or even a mix? Especially if your employers don’t have a problem with it (I’d hope they wouldn’t, but that’s a conversation for another day), why not do what best expresses you?

I often approach holiday decorating the same way: why use clear or white lights when you can fill your room with color? The Cancun resort had a beautiful Christmas tree in the lobby. I loved it, it was gorgeous—yet, it was still a fairly monochrome tree. The lights were a very light blue, almost white, and all the ornaments were similarly colored. I loved it because it sparkled (twinkling lights go a long way with me), and I understand wanting to keep decorations consistent, especially with any other decorations around the lobby or living room. But why choose white when you can have color? Perhaps they feel white lights are classier, and that may be. But for my tastes, I’d much prefer some color.

People’s tastes vary, of course, and to each their own. Everyone can do what they like (as long as it doesn’t hurt others), and express themselves in whatever way they see fit. For me, that involves color. And I see less of it everyday, from clothes to movies (the dark, colorless gritty reboot is in). But I think hair and walls, for example, are things that people feel are supposed to be limited in color, and they don’t realize how much they can be used as a way of expressing their personality. Why not consider it?

What about you, readers? Do you like color for things that are often thought to not have color (like apartment walls or hair)? Have you thought about using color for your walls but thought it wasn’t “proper” or expected? How do you use color to express yourself? Chime in in the comments.

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