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The Magic Of Colour - Pale Yellow
by Sarah Van Arsdale

A pale yellow wash is so subtle it can seem almost transparent, as if you could put your hand to the wall and you might touch light itself.

Pale yellow is, of course, an excellent choice for a summer cottage; it's the color of mid-summer, of lemon chiffon pies and lemonade in a big glass pitcher, swimming with ice. It's a childhood color, the color the air turns when you're out on the sandy beach and the sun is high in the stern blue sky.

While a darker yellow throws back much more light than it keeps in, a pale yellow, because it's toned down with more white, doesn't give that hearty glow. It's a more gentle look, a look that doesn't call attention to itself and scream "hey everybody, I'm yellow!" but just quietly waits for someone to notice.

So why bother? Pale yellow is immensely soothing, cooling, and refreshing. For a summer cottage, you might consider pale yellow for accents: pillows, vases, lamps. When it's used on walls, especially in a high-ceiling living room and off set by white trim, it is an elegant effect, as seen in this wall and ceiling.

Can you achieve this in your home, even if you don't have loads of decorative wainscoting? Sure. Whatever wainscoting you have, you can paint it white, and on the walls go with a pale yellow. You can paint the wood trim white, or you could even hire someone to paint a faux wainscoting around the walls in white. Some painters can do this so convincingly you'll swear there's a rim of wood there. And of course, you can always add real wainscoting and paint it white.

Be careful when choosing the yellow paint not to go too bright, and when you're looking at paint chips remember that the color on the wall will be darker and brighter. For the trim, use a bright white, not a cream, for this elegant effect.

A piece of furniture in pale yellow is put to best effect against a darker background. Against a plain white wall, a pale yellow sofa will get lost and will vanish into the light. But imagine a sofa against a wall that's painted a maroon, for a dramatic effect, or even against a sage green for a more subtle effect.

Copyright 2001
Sarah Van Arsdale

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design Web site at http://www.sheffield.edu

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