Color My World….my Word!

It isn’t easy to admit this, but I am a product of the ’70s, when Avocado Green stoves and Harvest Gold dishwashers, Crockpots and toasters were all the rage.

Even then, I wasn’t wild about those colors, though they were clearly the “in” thing and extremely trendy. My seventh grade science teacher (let’s call him Mr. L) dressed almost exclusively in goldenrod, brown and avocado polyester sweaters. He also had an icky habit of not-so-surreptitiously picking his nose during class.

When I was handpicked (ew!) for the dubious honor of serving as a babysitter for his two children (they were well-behaved kids, thankfully, and who was I–not the world’s most stellar science student–to turn down this job offer, which somehow struck me as an extra credit option?) and walked through his front door–WHAMMO!

The entire living room was decked out in shades that matched my teacher’s daily wardrobe, with the carpet a definitive avocado, an armchair upholstered in solid Harvest Gold and a couch covered in a coarse brown-and-gold plaid fabric that screamed “1970s” from two rooms and several decades away.

I am quite ashamed to confess this today, but I later whispered to some friends (in an effort to impress my peers with insider knowledge and elicit laughs: mission accomplished) the secrets of Mr. L’s home–adding, of course, that the furnishings provided ample cover and excellent camouflage for the products of his picking habit. Go ahead, call me immature and indiscreet. My only defense is that I wasn’t more than 13 at the time.

Mr. L’s revenge from across the years is likely this: Now there are teenagers (friends and classmates of my children) roaming MY home, probably sharing with other pals and family the quirks, messes and decorating calamities that lurk within.

But it’s a brand new century, and Avocado Green and Harvest Gold are not the prevailing colors of the day, I quickly learned while scouting out paint options in advance of a recent house move. In fact, the proliferation of paint hues–not to mention the mysterious names assigned to them–is astounding.

I’d like to meet a few of the people who hold the jobs of naming colors for Benjamin Moore, Diamond Vogel or Sherwin Williams. Clearly, they are highly creative sorts, skilled at free association techniques and not governed by anything close to rigid reality. Maybe they even employ a few other concepts from the ’70s to get their creative juices flowing.

For instance, here is a short list of “colors” I discovered, with the help of friendly staff at local paint/decorating outlets: Sea Salt, Serene Breeze (does the breeze have a color?), Quietude, Mazarena, O Fortuna, Angelic Choir, Dainty Debutante, Pout, First Date (how can this be a beige?), Empress Lila, Trade Secret, Crispa, Chic Magnet, Peaceable Kingdom, Mahalla, August Moon, Twinkle Twinkle, Young Colt, Star of Morning, Moon Goddess, Herald of Spring, Whimsy, Lockhart, Notice Me (really, mauve? why not a shocking red?), Village Crier, Lover’s Tryst, Earthly Pleasure, Outrageous, Island Embrace, Sawgrass Cottage, Live Oaks, Pure Laughter, Sail into the Horizon, Lazy Days, Calmness, On the Nile, Island of Dreams, Hidden Glade, Vacation Island, Elfin Magic, Turkscrap, Bedtime Story, Childish Wonder, Medieval, Altar Call, Christy’s Smile, Sullivan’s Heat and Moonlight Melody.

Those are just a few of the “colors” that give little (or less) indication of what tints their pigments truly impart. But who wouldn’t want “Lover’s Tryst” in a bedroom, “Pure Laughter” in their family room, “Island Embrace” in a sunroom or “Childish Wonder” by a baby’s crib?

They’re not selling color–they’re selling fantasy, people! Most of the above turned out to be variations on cream or taupe! But if you focus on the names instead of the colors, maybe the mood you seek to invoke will fall upon you as you enter each paint-swept space, like a mantle of snow gently descending to your shoulders on a chill December evening.

I’m not sure any of this explains the ’70s fascination with Avocado Green and Harvest Gold, but I will reveal that splashes of Hidden Cove, Sweetie Pie, Granny Smith and Medieval all made the cut at our house. Good luck guessing what colors those names REALLY represent.

Thank goodness my kids are too old for babysitters. And…sorry, Mr. L.



2 Responses

  1. Doris Cowan

    You’ll understand perfectly my reaction to the avocado & gold shag carpet in the master bedroom here! It was the first thing in this ‘move in condition’ house we moved into in 2003 that I said had to go! It’s still here!!! Your dear uncle wouldn’t hear of it being taken up – I think he liked the way it felt on his feet! (besides, Roberta thinks it’s glued down)!. It is still on my list of jobs to do!!!

  2. beth

    When we moved into our house 20+ years ago, there was green in every room: day-glo green in the main bedroom, avocado green in the kitchen with gold wallpaper, forest green wool carpet in the living room. We painted over it all and ripped out the carpet, replacing it all with beige or white. But that got to be boring, so we have gradually over the years embraced color with little beige or white left. It took me a while to let any green in the house, but I did find a nice shade eventually for the guest bedroom. Our most adventurous color journey was the most recent — orangy-red for the kitchen. I love it. The hubby took a little convincing, but I think he now appreciates how well the color highlights the cabinets.

Comments are closed.