I Like Parisian Palettes In The Springtime, How About You?

In France they have a saying ‘en avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil’ which basically means- in April, don’t put your umbrella away.  It’s sort of on par to our ‘April showers brings Mays flowers’ idea… but somehow said with a French accent the sentiment just seems so much more sophisticated.

Umbrellas from Alexandra Sojfer… the most amazing umbrella shop ever! 218 Boulevard Saint-Germain

Since my first ever trip to Paris happened in the month of April- (two years back and over Easter week to be exact), this time of year finds me longing to be back there April showers and all…walking along the Seine, peeking in and out of shop after amazing shop and lazily sitting outside of a cafe doing nothing more than people watching the afternoon away…ahh, paradise.

That’s me in the background… entranced by one of the many ‘hidden gardens’ I discovered while navigating the streets of Paris on my first day there…my expression- a mix of jet lag and pure happiness, I’m sure.

Oh, Paris… the sights, the sounds, the gardens, the food, the wine…and most of all THE COLORS!

I like to now call them the ‘ Parisian neutrals’… colors that exist somewhere between gray, stone, taupe and the color of the pebbles that you softly crunch over as you stroll through the Tuileries Gardens.

See how pretty the green and yellow ‘pop’ against the background… the buildings, statues and ground cover make for a stunning backdrop for brighter and richer colors.  This is a photo from the Place de Vosges, the oldest square in Paris- a must see if you go.  It’s a great place to catch an insider’s glimpse into Parisian life.

It’s that French limestone, the weathered everything, the statues and details that have been dipped in gold; the way the Seine divides the city in half with it’s calming current as you cross from left bank to right.  The whole package is just divine!  Around every corner there is something to discover, another cobblestone street or brightly colored storefront or parterre garden or stylishly dressed Parisian.

The Rodin Museum (yes he actually lived and worked in this house/hotel right in the heart of the city)-I guess you could say he was by no means a ‘starving artist’!  The garden is so amazing (and free to enter)- love the oxidized statue and roof amongst the lush greens of the plants.

Since returning home to my American digs I’ve held these colors in my mind and have kept an eye out for possible matches.. knowing one day I might have the chance to use them.

So recently when my friend Carson, also a real Paris-phile (if there was such a word) asked me to help her pick a paint color for a new pilates studio that she was opening (she’s a professional dancer/pilates guru) I thought- finally  here’s my chance to figure it out.

I immediately remembered a color swatch that I had seen in House Beautiful magazine in which designer Micheal Mckinnon had mentioned put his mind to Paris.

BENJAMIN MOORE SILVER FOX 2108-50: “This is a warm, taupeish gray, what artists call a French gray. Very relaxed and chic. It immediately puts me on the Île Saint-Louis overlooking the Seine. It’s equal parts earth and air, to use feng shui terms, which means it’s perfect for a small, narrow entrance hall, because it adds warmth and air at the same time.” -MICHAEL MCKINNON

Now I’m the last one who should be telling you to pick a color by it’s name ( kinda like judging a book by it’s cover), but Carson has a friend who calls her a ‘silver fox’ all of the time, so I thought perhaps this color was kismet…

She loved the color, but feared it was too dark for her space.  After visiting her new studio I had to agree.  With it’s dark blue carpeting (which was staying) and only two windows ( basement view at that) she needed to go much lighter.  She alsowanted the space to gain a feeling of warmth- since it was currently painted a stark bright cool white complete with fluorescent lighting.

Obviously we wanted to go with a warm gray, so we quickly narrowed it down to Edgecomb Gray HC-173. you can see in this picture from the Benjamin Moore’s website how much warmer of a color it is then the grays next to it-

Yet she was still very nervous about going with ‘color’ on the walls with the blue carpet.  I totally understood her fear, but I tried to convince her that the carpets would be one day soon be replaced with wood flooring and that a backdrop of ‘greige’ would be a beautiful backdrop for her warm toned equipment and accents of her favorite colors of deep blues and reds.  Also she was planning on showcasing her brother’s black and white photography around the space…. how pretty that would be! Soon we would both be feeling like we were right back in Paris via the colors of her studio!

Quickly I realized that my Parisian colored walls would not be happening this time.  My Parisian fantasy would stay my own…and though I tried to sneak in some suggestions that were lighter but on par with Edgecomb Gray… she still wasn’t convinced.  A few swatch test later and we both agreed on Ballet White OC-09 ( I guess in the end perhaps the name game, she is a dancer after all, won out! ).

All said and done-her space looks fantastic! She switched out the fluorescents with track lighting complete with big opaque round bulbs (brilliant- right, since while working out on the mats and reformers her clients are always looking up!)  which really added to warming up the space as well.

Oh well, one day my Parisian palette will come into play… I just know it.

Now back to my trip to Paris for just two more things.  The umbrella shop that I mentioned at the beginning of this post is really a must see place (if you are just lucky enough to find yourself on the Left Bank anytime soon) or visit via the web… owner and designer Alexandra Sojfer is as cute and chic as her umbrellas- love what she’s wearing! (check out her behind the scenes videos that are featured on the site).

And if traveling to France is not on your immediate horizon, a great substitute for French style inspiration is this book (it’s my rainy day cup of tea/ glass of wine go to book in fact) My French Life by Vicki Archer-

And in case you don’t know Vicki has an amazingly addictive blog called French Essence.. reading it is like taking a little mini vacation to Provence… what could be better than that!

On a funny note, I never realized until right this minute that I think the woman on the cover is quite possibly carrying an Alexandra Sojfer umbrella-not sure but it sure looks like one. Wow – okay now that is kismet!!!!

Still on the look out for that perfect color to transport me back to my beloved City of Lights…. recently sampled a few more in my own house…hmm, Bennington Gray HC-82… I may be on to something here…

I just joined The French Obsession Party on Le Chateau des Fleurs by Frenchy!

9 Responses to “I Like Parisian Palettes In The Springtime, How About You?”

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  1. What a beautiful post! I loved the color analysis of Paris. It would be so nice to use ‘silver fox’ somewhere in my own home (the HB description is incredible), but every time I try to find a space for gray, I realize that my home is just to much on the cream/yellow spectrum to try to introduce gray. Although, in my bedroom, I am going in the blue and very pale light gray direction (not on the walls, though!).

  2. Maria Killam says:

    What a lovely post on Paris. I was there 2 year ago in October but It would be amazing to be there in the Spring that’s for sure!
    Great colours you chose!

  3. Julie Hoylen says:

    T.T.I.- I agree that grays are tricky… but yellow, cream and gray are all very, very pretty together… perhaps there is a gray out there with your name on it- do though love the idea of pale gray and blue in your bedroom- even the sound of it is relaxing!

    Maria, lucky girl… I have a feeling Paris is beautiful no matter what the season- it just can’t help it!

  4. Pat says:

    Love the post . . . alas I have never been to Paris myself, but reading about and seeing the pictures is as good as the real thing . . . right?!? (okay, I guess not.)

    Anyway, the colors are amazing and I absolutely love the way you put the palettes with the pictures.

    By the way, I love grey with yellow and cream. It’s also great with pink.

  5. I so enjoyed your observations about grey and included a link to this post in my most recent blog post.

  6. I love Paint and love seeing the color combinations taken from the pictures. Great post and great talent! This is a lot of fun!
    Thank you for linking to French Obsession!
    XOXO
    Frenchy

  7. Maggie says:

    Just popped in from Le Chateau des Fleurs to wander around Paris in the Springtime once again. We were there earlier this year staying in an apartment in Le Marais.
    I wondered was your first photograph taken in the gardens of the Carnavalet Museum? It reminds me of the lovely afternoon that we spent there.
    a bientot
    Maggie @ Normandy Life

  8. I love Paint and love seeing the color combinations taken from the pictures. Great post and great talent! This is a lot of fun!
    Thank you for linking to French Obsession!

  9. The green and yellow makes it pop out so much I love it! Very well done!

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