I grew up in a very colorful home. Every door was (and still is) painted a bright color. Over the years the hues have changed here and there, but the concept endures: Even long after my parents had an empty nest, my sister’s bedroom door remains apple green, across from my turquoise, next to my younger brother’s red, the boys’ bathroom orange, and so on. When all the doors are closed in that long hallway of bedrooms and bathrooms, the place looks like a nursery school. We four kids teased my mother mercilessly for years, and she didn’t flinch. “It’s a happy place, and every guest that walks in here can’t help but smile. Just watch them, and you’ll see.”
When I got my first solo apartment at the beginning of my junior year at U.C. Berkeley, I couldn’t wait to decorate it. By then I was a seasoned thrift shopper and flea marketer (thanks to my mother, the expert), and I wasn’t intimidated by furniture stripping and re-painting if it produced something cool and could save me a few bucks. I remember spending many weekends driving all over the bay area to collect interesting pieces, and I found an inexpensive local seamstress to whom I brought fabric for custom curtains, throw pillows, and a duvet/bed skirt/pillow shams set for my bed. When I had amassed all the necessities plus a bunch of eclectic extras, I took a good look around. I had succeeded in creating the dullest, most colorless environment on Earth! I had taken a 180 degree turn from the lively, bright palette of my childhood in an effort to make my first “adult” apartment more, um, well, adult. I had chosen all neutral tones, and nothing – not one piece in the place – stood out in any way. It was drab. It was depressing. Living without color was a really, really bad idea.
Several apartments and a lot of years later, my efforts to stand apart from my mom’s influence proved futile. Gradually I reintroduced color into my living space – first with a pastel palette and quirky vintage pieces (Think Lucille Ball’s dressing room.) and later, with pops of color that friends tell me they’d never have the nerve to use: My front and bathroom doors are orange (Benjamin Moore’s “Orange Juice,” to be exact). A large, Italian glass disc chandelier of bright yellow hangs over the dining table, and the bedroom walls are granny smith apple green. I must admit, it’s a happy place, and every guest that walks in here can’t help but smile. Color is inspiring that way….
So it’s no wonder that I never jumped on the raw/rough/”natural” diamond bandwagon. All those browns and beiges and greys and blacks don’t have enough life for me. Sure they’re neutral and may “go with everything,” but a “neutral” opinion is neither here nor there; and a car in neutral gear doesn’t get very far… What fun is neutral?! No doubt I prefer traditional, full cut diamonds with maximum brilliance, and pristine, vibrant color. Yes, mom, I do react when I see gorgeous, clean orange fire opals or the electric blue of zircon or the delicious magenta of rubellite. I do smile when I’m “home” in the exquisite palette Mother Nature has created. Indeed, this apple ultimately didn’t fall too far from the tree.