A conservative women’s breakthrough in modern life, culture, and sense of self.
A primer about how to add a little color in your life, through my personal story.
By: Becky Reese
The basement room rug is grey and shabby with a few tattered yarn remnants popping through and lying like limp noodles. These tentacles were long pulled by some, now defunct, children’s toys that had scraped along in a circle continuously. The children were probably singing some simplistic song, yanked right from our dark history such as Ring Around the Rosie or To Catch a Tiger by the Toe, on repeat until a voice from above yelled dinner. The walls are wood-paneled, and of course we can see a few nail holes scattered, around and if you squint you can spot the dusty corners where a handful of frames remained stationary for many years.
The truth is if you’ve got a home, you develop blindness to what is around you. You stop seeing the dust bunnies under the bed.You stop realizing that your tissues are starting to build up at the end of your mattress at night. you don’t realize that you’re consistently leaving coffee mugs all over your own home. Once in awhile that blind is goes away when you invite some people over to your home and do a quick clean up. But for the most part we all develop it, it’s part of our pattern recognition system. our brains are hardwired to spot patterns, but also to ignore them. We don’t here our whining children anymore, we don’t notice the ticks (aka fidget spinners), or that we’re bouncing are foot up and down shaking the entire table library while we’re doing research. One of the things that we can do to snap ourselves out of that pattern blindness is to jazz up our life with a little bit of color, and richness, in art. We can relish in the idea, and try to make your home a work of living art just by the very nature of contrasting color palettes, fabric variety, light and shadows, and other harmonious or contrasting elements. And once you add paintings and personal artifacts, as well as pictures from your past that living piece of art turns into your home. An oasis for you and your family designed to enrich your lives.
You are a sophisticated human being, and sure, well, you’re sophisticated enough to have some pattern blindness, you certainly are not interested in a makeover, or revamping your basement. What time to run around, or even head to Amazon or wherever else your credit card is stored, and shop on your lunch break. what are things are the wrong size or they just don’t look right once they arrive. Then you’re just going to be a clutter-free. Regardless you probably should focus on your bedroom or closet for reason wardrobe. So much of your clothes is dated even though it feels comfy and soft and you love scrunching up in it in the evening. I mean honestly, who really cares about the basement? Why should you care about the basement? Pretty much feels gross down there.
You’re at lunch with your friends, which you do about every 4 to 6 weeks. It’s in a cute little space with contemporary baby chandeliers over every table, the walls are white and the chairs are baby blue. The afternoon sun is glinting off the three tiered tray holding finger sandwiches, and the waitresses droning on about some special to the table next door. Once the waitress leaves their table and heads towards the kitchen to put in the order, the two ladies at table start shattering. Something about their work environment not helping them, and not being conducive towards the work that they do. It seems like one of them might end up leaving, and the other one seems to be ready for a fight with upper management about working from home a little more often. She tunes back into her friends as she hears one of the women say, ‘If my brain doesn’t get a jolt once in awhile it’s going to continue to be on autopilot and they’re never going to get my creative juices flowing’. She jumps back into her own conversations, And nibbles on the cucumber and cream cheese triangle in her hand.
Finally all of these sandwiches are made, the school notes are signed, and you settle down to work on creating the shopping list for your husband. Hopefully he’ll actually be able to see the difference between the green salsa and the red salsa. He’s a little color deficient after all. You head down a few steps to the split level basement, and flop down on the couch with your notebook. Once you finish with your chores, you lay your head back and stare up at the drop tile playing connect-the-dots while you zone out for a few minutes. Your brain start doing what your brain normally does, which is teasing you about your lack of hobbies. You start wondering perhaps why you don’t have many hobbies and look around your basement realizing that there’s nothing here that’s conducive towards having some hobbies. The gray dust bunnies have scampered off underneath the couch, the old wood just stares back at you coated with dust, and your memories of writing and movie making seem to have joined them in the corners. You got a little bit frustrated, you had a great college life, you found an adorable incapable partner, had a few kids but what do you have to show for your own life. Nothing really just your family, you’re not sure that that is enough to satisfy equality fulfilled life. Granted that children are pretty special, but they can be completely overwhelming and damage your relationship life and sense of self. You grow a little bit despondent, grab your notebook, which should have a few new story ideas jotted in it, and stomp upstairs to bed. You’re upset that this dark gray space is part of your house. It just doesn’t seem like the old you.
But that’s not you, you’re busy, and with pattern blindness who really cares. Your friends like you just for who you are. They will probably end up making fun of you for changing your living space. You have no time, money or inclination to make these kinds of changes in your life. It means moving everything outside of the basement, it might mean bringing in a contractor or a painter to do some work on your space. And you can barely have a vacation of your own. Right now you’ve got eight sandwiches on the counter and you’re trying to remember which one should not be getting the blackberry jam and which one needs to have a double dose of crunchy peanut butter. Who has time for this. You can barely make it to the gym, And that’s all about your body and health. I mean you walk around with that everyday, and people see that and you feel the effects immediately. That’s why you’ve been toying with being a vegan, Although, I’m sure your husband would never allow that anyway, he’s got to have his grilling weekends. You can barely spot the difference between green and red anyway, what kind of benefit will he get?
But now there is no doubt that you need a little bit of energizing. I’m sure your husband would be happier with you, and your general daily performance. You have a funny feeling your children might gravitate back towards you and stop treating you like a servant just making their sandwiches in the morning. You have the inclination that you’re finally ready to take back a little bit of your sense of self. You know it will be difficult, but perhaps by starting with the basement you’ll gain just a little bit without putting out too much of yourself. You’re nervous that you’ll slid back Into your old routine a little bit, but pretty sure that it will be worth it in the end. who knows you might even find a totally new hobby beyond just writing and film. Perhaps you will take up painting. But where to start, how to choose your battles, what do you even begin with? Should you spend some money, or move some things around and see who notices what? You’re starting to get some ideas but you’re not really sure where to start.
The next morning you wake up kiss everyone goodbye on their ways to work and school. You work your way timidly downstairs. You look around and notice old boxes in one corner, a bed that was supposed to be for guests, but no one ever wants to sleep in the basement, and some very old toys. Your children are now in high school and middle school and these are wooden toys that you assume you’re going to give to your grandchildren. Of course the dust bunnies have never moved and the dusty frame shapes are still on the old wood panel. You look at the couch and noticed there’s a depression from where you sit on it. You realize that either that is the most comfiest spot in the universe or you’re the only one that sits down here anymore in this dark grey space. The light bulbs even have dust on them.
The wood paneling has a couple funny shapes and turns on it, you figured there might be some pipes hidden behind it. But you work your way towards the boxes in the corner, stifling a sneeze as you lean in to read the old faded marker from when you moved here 18 years ago. As you reach your hands around the top box and use a little muscle to lift it arching your back backward, total conviction comes over you and you realize that this project will happen. After a bit of work you take a quick break to look online for help and discover an ebook that has the most information, skim it, and get right back to work. [Editors note, Becky used this book to help her pick her colors.] How to Paint Your House Interior Professionally: Insights into picking colors and Paint problem solutions
Somewhere around the 18th box, the one you’re holding with lumps on it gives out and comes crashing down at your feet. You look down and realize that it’s a bunch of old scarves and clothes with a few travel souvenirs mixed in them. The bright array of colors on the floor surprises you. You love the blue and purple against the gray carpet. And out of the corner of your eye you spot a vibrant green that seems to be calling your name. This must be the way one chooses a color palette. You decide that the basement will most likely be blue and green with an accent of purple. You think that that might go well. The blue and green are complementary colors and should work really nicely together with the purple playing in contrast to both the blue, as a similar family, and the purple and green as a vibrant contrast. Your mind begins to churn as you scan the rest of the basement where would you put the purple, perhaps along that trim. What about a blue rug. Or what about a white rug with green circles on it. There are so many choices.
You reach down for your phone and snap a picture of the beautiful colors on the gray carpet. You change apps and send a quick message to Jenny perhaps she can come over instead of the typical lunch and you can go over some ideas, or maybe go shopping for some colorful objects. You really hope that she’ll be on board with you. She would totally understand symbolic reasons for color and choices between a shiny or matte wall. She may even come up with the way that some colors can link back to your old memories, for goodness sake she is aware of everything. Even jason’s old college jaunts.
Jenny arrived with a small box of those triangle sandwiches, glances around and looks once again at her phone to see the color array that you sent her. She seems to love it. She tries to help you make some choices between latex paint or acrylic paint, or even oil paint. She is so smart. She knows that there are differences between even the paint type.
For example the latex paint is a pretty common choice and you learn that you can clean it up pretty easily with just a bit of durability. Of course she knows that there’s no sun down here, so you don’t need to worry about the fact that it has some fade-resistance. And between the two of you, the choices of oil is a hard one; because while you can prime the wood with it nicely, it will also mean that the paint job will take longer to dry and perhaps your family will get in the way of your new plans and stop you midway through.
After nibbling more of the sandwiches, and a break to sit cross-legged on the floor. The overall choice was to choose a paint that is super vibrant to bring some colorful light down here, and just a bit of contrast for tricking the brain. The oil primer, while it will take take longer to dry, will seal the wood nicely and make a nice smooth coat for a latex top coat. This way when you finally want to change the furniture or color palette it will be easier.
This game of choosing is so much fun for you! You are super excited now. Just imagine all the Fantastic times that you’re going to have down here, you’re pretty sure your family will join you now even if it means that they will just sit on their telephone and read or text with their friends. You really don’t care, the bottom line is they are going to be with you. And that’s what family is all about.
Jenny get ready to leave, and leaves you with some important advice. you are going to have to think long and hard about who is going to be using this room. Will it be just you and your family? The community for life cycle events? Or your children’s friends? What about your friends that have younger children? Now that you imagine that your space will be amazing, you’re pretty sure that you will have people down here that you didn’t even imagine. It is all about the sheen now. are you going to want something that is shiny, or semi shiny; or what about something that looks like an eggshell. Perhaps you want something a little bit more flat or matte or satin. Jenny leaves you with this question, but doesn’t really help you with an answer. You decide to head out.
You work your way down to the local big box store, and hope that you can find some answers, before the kids get home from school. You will have to take a break and get them started on their homework. You work your way through the huge store, all sorts of objects seem great for the basement. However you’re not ready for those things yet, so you leave them be, and work your way toward the paint aisle. Rows and rows and rows of paint cans from floor-to-ceiling. it is an immense amount of paint. How in the world are you going to choose?
The young man working towards you has a button that says I work in the industry and can help you with some choices. Your sense of relief changes as his opening question starts with, ‘so what color do you want’? You glance at him and tell him what do I do with all the sheen choices? He smiles and then begins rambling, well if the paint is glossy then you will have much simpler time wiping it down. Do you have any younger kids? Will it be a playroom? Or is this something for the kitchen where you’re going to get offer some grease and oil on it? You see, he continues, if you have a lot of movement and people using the room then you might want to get something with a very high gloss on it because that way all you need is a little bit of water on a rag and in just a few seconds you can wipe away any messes that are on the wall. However if you try to do that with last color or matte or eggshell you’re going to get some sort of blemish and discoloration where you wiped. You certainly don’t want that in your living room?
Down on the other hand if you are working in kitchen or a bathroom and you’ve got some beautiful trim which should really matter about wipe ability then how about a semi-gloss? It’s definitely not as expensive as that high shiny gloss so a lot of people tend to use that. You see places like bathrooms or hallways or where you cook tend to get this style and shiny today. You certainly are going to be cleaning those rooms as also. And it will fatigue your eyes from the shiny sunlight glancing off of it.
You explain that you have walls with a bunch of imperfections and all sorts of other textured marks on it. He explains that you’re pretty much going to want to get a matte or a flat paint. Because you can get away with it, as it digs deep down into the hole of small wood and other material. However he tells you that is going to be a little hard to clean up. It will definitely show dirt or hand smudges if they were from dirty little children paws. But he comments, after you go into more detail about what you want to do with the room, that your best choice is going to be eggshell! He sure was helpful, as promised.
He described that eggshell going to be flat but it definitely will be easier for you to clean and will be pretty durable if you bang & bump in it in the basement as move around things and change the space for your creative juices, or if you have parties, and teenagers or little children moving around. It kind of has the best of all the worlds from the glossy and flat options out there on the shelves.
You work your way home quickly in order to be there in time for the kids. you settle down with a glass of coffee and your notebook. This time there aren’t story ideas, however there are color choices and all sorts of information on the shininess of paint and architectural implementation through color. You realize that they have some extra curriculars today and will be home later you have extra time. But you grow a little bit nervous because you feel like you haven’t done any work except for toss out a bunch of their old things. You send Jason a text, it’s a little cryptic but you feel like it’ll soften the blow.
With your newfound time you had to some of your old film book on color palette and symbolic use of color in film. You skim around add a bunch of tags to the book pages and decide to settle on a couple of things. You realize that There really isn’t any need to simply paint the walls white or some variation of it because you’re not selling your house. Is he just like in the film industry, she realized that when it’s white the next family person or even realtor that wants to stage your home and just slap on a coat of paint without doing any hard work. Also she realized that the cameras don’t always like a stark white wall, because of Bounce is a whole lot of light around and this will definitely be something that fatigue a person’s eye as well. So if it’s not like a hallway where you’re just zipping through it you probably want to be careful about making it too bright and to stark.
You already understand quite a bit about the color wheel, although you never really used it because all you did was learn about the blue and orange color contrast in a whole bunch of modern film. Never the less what you discovered is that an easy way to do primary color that is that blue yellow and red choice is that you can combine a bunch of secondary colors as well for example purple and orange. new definitely knew about the analogous colors that are much closer to each other on the color wheel for example your beautiful trim and primary blue. You see color that are opposite to each other on the color wheel play off each other really well. They’re called complementary. However if you stay in the family of similar color green. then you get a couple of color tones for example to green that are subtle like emerald green and some light then you can make your trim a complementary color and it will stop while the rest of the room.
You also learned that There are a whole bunch of colors called psychological colors. For the most part what this means is that they are warm and pleasant colors like oranges and sunset colors like yellow or red and magenta. What these colors do is make rooms larger and calmer and friendlier. You can play around with the warms of those color. Like it gives it a nice soft red or a bright vibrant mango yellow. You can also mute those colors to cool them just a little bit, with some other color such as purples or other variations. There was an entire section on her book of colors that revolved around how to play off one another having the Shadows be a cool color and primary color being a warm color which lent itself to being calm. Just as the natural forest and fields of colors of green being calm to the eye.
You were starting to really regret that you hadn’t grabbed your hobbies and ran with them when you were younger. Here you had a reason to use color theory and all you needed to do was glimpse at your book and realize that you understood most of this intuitively and was going to have a blast designing this basement. You bet that you could have perfected that knowledge and technique for some hobby, or even a career. But that was all water under the bridge and this was the starting point of it all. You were on a high, this was the most excitement you had since your baby. You could feel the pulses of inspiration coursing through your head.
The door slam shut snapping you out of your reverie. Your children were home! Dinner was not even made. Oh boy were you in trouble. You look around one last time realizing that no one was going to come down anyways to see the mess that you created, and you quickly ran up the stairs closing the door. How odd you thought, you never hid anything before. Why were you hiding things now? You realize that in this nascent stage of your ideas anyone in your life from your friends to your husband to your children to dinner could derail the simple idea and plummet you back into a boring stage of your life. A stage of doing nothing. Stage of stagnant repetitive text. You are a modern woman.
And you the modern woman climbed the stairs. and quickly stuck a pot in the sink to fill it up and get that pasta for dinner moving along. With your head in the little wire pull-out tray of onion, you here behind you the voice of your husband remarking that he is home early. Isn’t it great he says, as you cringe a little inwardly. This whole new sense of you is not something you enjoy. You just wanted to do something for yourself, had a little inspiration and ran with it. You have no desire to explain yourself to him or anybody. Because you have a feeling that you are going to have to justify why you want to add some color to the basement. What a third-world way of thinking. That is certainly not something you want to talk to him about. you resolve out to talk to him this evening about it.
In bed later that night, your lean over and kiss them and start your conversation with him. You are timid and your trepidation at him not potentially agreeing with you tickles you the wrong way. You are nervous, for almost no reason. I mean all you want to do is change the basement color. So that it is pleasant and that you can work there. After a long monologue, he counters you with what do you need to do down there? This sets you off and you feel hot and angry. And you kind of go on a tangent because it’s really difficult to discuss with him that your sense of self was lost in the family.
But he begins to understand and remarks that your sense of self is the family. You’re not sure that you agree with the sentiment that they cannot be one and the same nor can they be mutually exclusive. So you finally concede that you will work on this project, but only since the basement is messy now and that’s why you are going to finish it. All your thinking from before about how you are going to convince him that we will have family time down there, and that we will enjoy it more and connect better with the community vaporizes. You are upset with yourself and with him, and turn over in a huff.
He is smart, and he remarks how you’re raising your tone is just something that you do when you are lying or just doing something you don’t want to really concede to. He reminds you that you haven’t made the sandwiches for the family yet, and rolls over smigly as you toss the covers off you. Feeling the chill, you head down to make the families sandwiches.
Once you finish the sandwiches you decide to head downstairs to sit on your ratty old couch. You think. But not about your husband or family because you love them. You begin to think about whether you want an elegant feel, or perhaps a soothing room. That’s exactly what you need right now. But what do you need for the future? You decide that you might want a rather vibrant feel to the room. But since your family is just a little bit conservative at the moment even though you’re trying to pull them out of the Dark Ages you realize that it will need to be subtle. You are ready to throw in the towel, completely lose my forget about this project.
You lay your head on the couch and begin to cry. after a while your brain turns back on and you realize there is much work to do to make this a habitable, family-friendly, created face. You resolve to Breathe new life into your family. This is going to be a fun project you fix clean out loud. not caring if you wake up anyone in your family. This is for them your well-being is important. They need to begin realizing that, and you will make them realize that with this basement project. This project is vital.
You look around and you realize that you can choose to remain within the same family of color for maybe use a singular monochromatic design. you see some of the childlike or those psychological soothing color like blue might just look good in a hallway or a small room. This one is a larger room and you want a feeling that is calm. You can’t just choose your favorite color, because then it would be the corn, you need to use something that is a little bit darker and tone one wall lighter tone on another wall maybe you’ll even mix of a little bit of the shine. You begin to look around and search, thinking about the lighting or coffee table or picture frame all of that in a much more subtle way. You imagine your husband Looking at a painting that reminds him of his love for cars, or perhaps a picture of the two of you kissing on your wedding day in a blue frame that certainly would tie in.
You realize that if you take some of the softer pestell cone you can get a nice Ambience of casualness in this room you might even dig into some of those psychological colors and get a duvet that covers the couch next week. you think that you are going to be pleasantly surprised when this is all done, and you really have a feeling that they are going to enjoy it as well and if not then this will be your office at the basement anymore!
You grab your laptop and build color swatches and sketches because you realize that they simply didn’t understand that in order to have something beautiful like this you can think about it and then design it, as opposed to being forced to make it without realizing how wonderful it will be beforehand. For some reason it is just easier for them to stay stagnant and stable. It is time to move on. You are presented to them at breakfast time, you are sure that they will be excited.
You think a little bit about how you will battle their non-creative thought process. And you realize that having a little bit of elegant and neutral color will lead to a lot of flexibility in this basement which might allow them to feel like they have some advice perhaps a little beige can be incorporated or an area that they can paint in the future. You decide that you’re going to have splashes I’m color throughout the room such as on a pillow for the couch, that one your husband will choose. And the yellow rug will be chosen by your daughter. You are beginning to see a way to include them, and choose things for all of them to choose from, but that has a familial cohesiveness to it, and won’t ruin your initial symbolic sense of self.
The room hold a sense of symbolism, it has a richness and depth that are now important to you, and your family. You bringing them all together with this project is important enough for you to stay focused on it even though you are tired. You plow through the night in an OCD manner, and begin to imagine that you have a dose of bi polar in you. But, you resolve to complete this. It is part of your essence now, and if you stop working on it you will have no spine for more important future projects of self.
You reach them all in the morning as they sit at the table, and immediately rush into grabbing their attention by handing each of them a small packet. They look at you like they did when they whined over not having a third cookie. You remark that this is not homework. This is to help add more richness to their lives, and get more times such as this breakfast time when they are all together and interacting as a family.
They looked at their packets, and you explain to them what you did. The top few pages are color examples, they each have one color for their color pop. Each page is a different shade of that color. The next few pages are products that they can choose from to add to the basement. Jason has a yellow lamp, there are about 20 to choose from. Your daughter has blue rug choices. She has 5 different blues to choose from, and a few pages of blue patterns to look through. You explain that they can text your their choices throughout the day, but that by the end of the day you will make the choices that they left didn’t make. They rush out for their respective days, and you collapse on the couch.
You get to work, as the texts come bleeping their way into your day. You have a painter coming, and some help to throw out the heavier things. You cry a little as the faded, deep butt print, on the couch gets crunched by the garbage truck into a billion pieces. You are glad that they were receptive to your commanding presence this morning. You are excited. You anticipate the new found family time, and new found mental breathing room you have. After a few days of hard work, you stand at the top of the basement stairs and open your eyes wide. You smile inwardly.
The basement room rug is a thick stripe of contrasting blue and white. The rug is the very reminder of Mykonos or some other Coppola filled vista in Greece. You can almost hear the lapping waters slap again the white stone stucco walls, where nary a sharp corner exists. The rounded edges of all the architecture lead to soft shadows under the harsh sun. The soft blue and white rug makes you want to slip off your boating loafers and scrunch your toes in the super soft and luxurious fabric beneath your feet. The white ceiling with knockdown corner are reminiscent of that architecture and highlight nicely with the soft gray walls, and the gray architectural modern couch. Now when you walk downstairs your pattern blindness is snapped back into the fore and bring a smile to your face. Now when you walk down those stairs, you are walking down into memories. it’s not difficult to understand how your once dingy basement is exciting and inviting both for you and your family and friends.