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.
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!