Cucumber Green Cucumber Green

In the dog days of summer, there's nothing like a soft, pale color to cool things down. If you think of colors as having temperatures, clearly orange and red and yellow feel "hotter" than the blues and greens. Think of that hot ball of fire in the sky, or the heat of red flames at a beach barbecue fire, and then think of cool blue waters of a cold summer lake surrounded by tall grasses, and you'll see how we associate temperature with color.

One of the coolest colors in the palette is a pale green, a green so pale that it's safer probably to say it's white with just a hint of green, rather than green watered down with white.

Often at Sheffield we look to nature for clues about colors, and in thinking about the temperature of colors it's particularly useful to consult with Mother Nature first. Keep a couple of cukes in the crisper, slice them and arrange on a blue plate, and you'll start feeling cooler even before you take a bite.

A favorite recipe for a hot summer day is a cucumber salad, simply prepared with sliced cucumbers, plain yogurt, and sprigs of fresh dill. Just mix, garnish with dill, and you've got a great side dish that will cool off your guests.

So it is too with using cucumber green in your summer home decor. Here, we're talking about the color of the inside of the cuke, the palest shade of green. For now, peel away that rich, dark green shade of the cucumber skin - it's too dark for the summer months, and would work better sometime in February, when you want to brighten things up while keeping them warm.

When you're working with such a pale shade, it's particularly important to keep in mind the other colors in the room, and to work with them rather than against them, because you don't want that soft wash of pale green to be lost.

You can add the cooling properties of cucumber green temporarily, such as by adding throw pillows, area rugs, or other accessories. If your room has a lot of heavy, dark furniture, anything pale will draw the eye away from the darker colors; if you really want to highlight a lighter piece, such as a delicate cucumber-green vase, just place it against a dark background, whether it's against a maroon wall or set on a dark mahogany table set with deep blue placemats.

Cucumber green could be a terrific choice for paint color, particularly for a porch or sun room. Even in the middle of winter, a sun room can get too hot, if only for a few hours each day. The expected colors for the walls of a sun room might be warmer, such as yellows, but using a surprising cucumber green will keep the room cooler in the summer months, while providing a refreshing color tone as a backdrop for the furnishings.

If you do choose to paint the walls of a porch or sunroom cucumber green, consider furnishing the room in a summery style, by using wicker, floral prints, and potted plants. A sisal carpet with a deeper green border can pull it all together.

Even your interior rooms could benefit from being re-painted with cucumber green. A room in the back of the house that doesn't get much light is a good candidate, as is a room with dark furniture that needs to be brightened up with lighter walls. Good choices for trim would be a slightly darker shade of the cucumber, or something from the other side of the color wheel, such as a deep pink.

The pale of cucumber can cool things off, even as the use of it fires up your passion for interior design.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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