Color Ground

Color Ground
The colors we clothe our buildings in, and the materials we use to build them can have a significant effect on how solid, safe, and grounded they appear.  And, I  might add, in addition to paint color, let’s not forget that the wood, brick, stone, concrete, metal and other natural and industrial materials we build with, have color too.  Add to this the by turns rapturous, earthy, luminous, bold, sublime, and subtle colors of nature, and you have a complex picture of the elements that go into making where we live, work and play picture perfect..or not.

In general, darker, richer, deeper, more saturated, brighter, warmer and more intense colors appear heavier, and thus may seem to “pull downward” towards the, in most cases, ground!  Placing them above a lighter, airier, softer, cooler,  paler, duller, less saturated colors may give the impression of pressing or pushing down upon something less substantial, creating a sense of pressure, ungroundedness, or even danger.  Who wants to feel like the heavier-looking second story might come crashing down through its weaker-looking support, or foundation?

The building above is grounded not only by its strong, dark burgundy red garage door, but also by the heavy foliage and hedge shrubbery which nearly obscures its foundation (the lower part of the structure upon which the rest of the building rests). The cream-colored concrete, red roof tile and strongly patterned brick provide contrast and a  variety of color and materials, but, particularly because of the grounding effect of the dark green, highly textural foliage, do not seem too heavy for the foundation to bear.

The UMG (Universal Music Group) office building in Santa Monica, CA is grounded by a strong, deep, earthy brick-red, which seems to support the pale pink upper above, though the entire structure is punctuated by a multitude of windows. Palms, parkway and other landscaping in front also support this grounded effect.

A similar outcome is achieved by juxtaposing a more saturated hue of reddish pink stucco foundation with the softer and paler ocher-colored wood siding above.  Lush vegetation sporting luxuriant red and pink flowers trailing over a natural wood fence add to its heavier, grounding effect

These interior gymnasium walls are grounded by the deep blue protective covering at their base. Given the wild shapes and over-sized   lines, shapes and patterns used in the room’s design, the consistency and “reliability” of the blue may also serve to keep young athletes players focused and grounded as they play.

Here is the outside of the same building, swathed in corrugated stripes.   Notice that the stripe closest to the ground is darker blue, and the one at the top, lighter.

This fun and fascinating building combines all manner of materials, from wood siding, to brick, to concrete,

and even verdigris decorative details above the door. The mass of flowering vegetation in front,  while nearly obscuring parts of the facade,  add to the fancy of the place, while connecting it to the earth, the  ground.  In moody weather, the mix of weathered materials and enveloping foliage may lend an air of mystery and perhaps even magic to the place.

Here, an artist’s self-styled, whimsical touch creates grounding through the application of  bright color, repeated shapes, and sense of a garden planted  at the base of the house. The playful, optimistic feeling  is further enhanced by the use of complementary colors  yellow and purple.

The largest sphere in this extraordinary mural seems to be sitting right on the sidewalk!  It could be coming right out at us, the viewer, but at least the building doesn’t look like it is about to leave the ground!  The tiled trompe l’oeil technique is used to great visual and grounding, effect here.

When we walk past this extraordinary building in LA’s Venice Canal District, our eye is drawn past the foliage, across the manicured back yard, and over the amazing sunken pool under the blue-framed overhang, through the space between the orange posts, to the electric apple green accent wall behind them. Brighter, more vibrant, and more saturated than the natural greens , and applied blue and orange surrounding it, this wall looks  strong enough to carry this unusual structure’s  visual weight.

This wild building on Wilshire in Santa Monica is one of my favorites.  An eclectic mix of materials, hues and shapes, it seems break all the “rules”, yet somehow, it works!  This could be due to a counteracting balancing effect of the mix of elements. The undulating curve of the upper wood facade/detail is counterbalanced by the strong concrete support/column next to it, even though the wood is a strong color, and an even stronger visual element. Our eye is drawn upward from the glass, and warm blue and green (reflecting sea, sky and grass?) colors behind it to that grand sweep of wood,

which is also supported by the metal detail/support that follows its shape and movement below.  The whole building feels like a

huge kinetic wave, appropriate architecture for a beach town on the edge of the Pacific. The foliage, and its concrete base below also add grounding.  Amazing!  Fidelity, you got it going on, architecturally!

The “Bagel Nosh”  in Santa Monica, hosts a marvelous display of mouth-watering treats. Where does our eye go right to here?  No, there isn’t a spotlight on the center of the case.  That’s just the natural color of these bright golden-yellow jalapeno-flavored bagels. The strong, rich, saturated color just grabs our attention, and holds it there…it’s up to you to decide whether the taste of these treats warrants their attention-grabbing status.

  We walk upon the ground,  perhaps that is why our  shoes are often brown and black…colors of the earth.  We usually want to feel grounded when we tread upon the earth, a firm foundation, a solid base.  But, maybe not all the time.  Perhaps sometimes we want to whirl, twirl, leap, float, and feel  “ten feet off the ground”.  Don’t we long to take risks, to take  flight, as much as we long to be safe, secure, and grounded?  When you want to feel fun, fantastical, floating, and fabulous, try on a glittery, glowing, or gossamer pair of footwear, and see if it helps your grounded spirit to soar!

What buildings, architecture, food or footwear have YOU experienced lately that feel grounded or the opposite?

If you feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all trying to ground ourselves  yet take flight within this thing called Life, together.

Stay grounded, but don’t be afraid to fly!

On the Avenue

On the Avenue

In San Francisco’s Richmond District, the series of North-South streets called “The Avenues” start at 2nd Avenue, and run West, all the way to Ocean Beach…which may be 50th Avenue!

Many of the houses in this area are sheathed in stucco, and may be painted in stucco paint.  The paints may come in limited colors, and the homeowner may have to make a choice of color under pressure, such as my Client did, who owns the middle house below.

Once the paint was up on the surface however, my Client and her husband knew they had to make it work.  The house was already painted, and to repaint it would be expensive, and admittedly, a real hassle.  The only option was to choose trim and accent colors in hues that worked well with the stucco house body color, and achieved what the Client wanted: a dignified, and streamlined  look, that set off the ornamental details, but didn’t add fussiness to the scheme as a whole.

We had the window frames, sashes and boxes, the ornament, the front and garage doors, a bannister, and a cross piece over the garage door to contend with.

Hillsborough Beige” HC 1033 (from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Color palette)  was chosen as the accent color, and applied to  the doors, window boxes and bannister.  Possessing the same undertone as the stucco paint over the house body, it packs a slight punch, and brings out these details without adding muss or fuss.

The fresh, yet warm quality of Benjamin Moore’s “947 Navajo White” streamlines the trim and ornamental details, while adding an element of luxuriance to the scheme.  Using the same color on the window frames and sashes also simplifies the detail, and adds elegance to the facade.

The Navajo White and Hillsborough Beige work beautifully together, adding subtle interest to the scheme.  The satin sheen of the doors provides some contrast and depth  in an understated way.  The preferred sheen for stucco tends to be  flat, as it doesn’t reflect all the shifts of plane in the surface it covers.

Greater sheen offers greater resistance to scratching and dirt.  Helpful, as front doorways tend to be heavily trafficked, and the door often take a beating!

The bannister stands out slightly from the stucco background, making it easier to see, and thus grab onto.  The scheme also manages to work with the front steps, a large area of color and texture boasting a design and colorway of its own.

The detail gleams against the understated neutral of the facade, an indication that indeed, less may very well be more!

Have YOU had an experience of “less is more’ with color?

If you feel so inclined, please share about it with us here.

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all coloring outside the lines of this thing called Life, together.