San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 23rd, 2012
Functional Girl: Fool-proof tips for the perfect paint color scheme

Functional Girl: A column

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE

Q.: Dear CJ: I’ve been in my house a year and I’m dying to paint, but I’m terrified that I’ll choose the wrong colors. Are there any foolproof tips for selecting the perfect paint?— Melinda R.

A.: Dear Melinda: I’m so excited that you sent in this question. Picking paint colors can be agonizing, even for professionals. I did a color consult recently and took a chance by gently nudging my client toward some earthy metallics. She seemed completely confident, but I was not, until the color was up on the wall and she hugged me and told me that she simply loved it.

I must confess, another reason why your question excited me is because it gave me an excuse to reach out to my favorite HGTV designer, Cy Winship, to ask if he’d be willing to offer his thoughts about color selection. Well, Melinda, he said, “Yes,” and that’s all I have to say about that. Take it away, Cy.

Every year, in January or February, I go to this wonderful villa outside Acapulco. Living through the Minnesota winters leaves me craving the warmth, the sun and the ocean. But mostly, I need color. My friends and I spend a week wandering the mercados, gazing at preposterously red strawberries, wickedly coral papayas and green, green, green stuff everywhere. The smells and colors fill my heart, and I feel alive again.

When I’m trying to create daring, original rooms in the north, it must be about the emotive possibilities of color combinations. I’m always asked about color trends, but I’ve finally realized that cool design must also be individual. It’s about making unique, personal choices that delight us. I remember my great aunt’s apartment from childhood. She traveled to China and Indonesia and brought back marvelous things. Her walls were golden and the wood furnishings ebony and painted red. She wore plum kimonos and had jade and turquoise jewelry. It’s still the most exotic place I’ve been. She was grand, mysterious and worldly. I find that my bedroom is becoming like her home, and those wonderful memories are always there to bring me comfort and joy. That is what the right paint color does. It opens the door for a personal connection to your space.

The thing I hate about makeover shows on TV (and I was on one) is that they (and we) never seem to make mistakes. We waltz in, proclaim the design scheme and make magic. It gives the impression that designers are infallible, and only you viewers are lame enough to paint the wrong color or buy the wrong towels. My fear is that people will stop experimenting with design when they screw up once or twice. I make terrible mistakes all the time. Oh, the ugly colors I’ve put on walls! I guess that’s what I’ve really figured out about good design. It comes from your heart. My eyes screw it up a lot, my brain even more. But I keep experimenting. So should you. It takes more thought and gumption, but mistakes can be lucky and unexpectedly original.

When I walk through my house, I get a thrill when a shaft of light hits a wonderful color. I feel a little cooler, a little smarter. I think that when we create beautiful, authentic rooms we feel more capable. Maybe we’re a little more confident in our job, a little more trusting with our hearts and more daring in our thinking. You don’t have to play it safe. There are many more colors than beige. Indeed, there are many more colors than this year’s color trend. The joy happens when we bend and even break the rules. Original and meaningful design happens when we know our own hearts. Infuse your home with the colors you love, the colors that resonate in your soul. I love lemon yellow, gold and bronze, scarlet, persimmon, citrine, aquamarine and deep, deep purple. They are all in my home and they make me very, very happy.

Q.: Dear Functional Girl: I’ve never been convinced that facial wipes can clean as well as cleanser. However, I recently had a baby (Zachary), and I’m all about convenience at this point. There are so many brands to choose from. Can you recommend a good one? –Barbara T.

A.: Dear Barbara: Congratulations on the new baby! I don’t have a little one of my own, but most of my friends do, so I understand the need to streamline your routine.

I do have a suggestion for you. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Daily Facial Cleansing Towelettes are my favorite. They’re dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, alcohol and oil free and they take off my eye make-up without a lot of effort. This is a major plus for me because the skin around the eyes is extremely delicate and easy to damage. For $11.49 you get four 30-count standard packs and two 15-count travel packs (150 total). The standard packs feature a flip-top lid that seals tight and prevents the towelettes from drying out, which can be an issue with other brands. The thick, quilted towelettes provide gentle exfoliation, while the cleansing formula contains chamomile to soothe, and red, white and green teas, as well as vitamin E, to protect and repair.

I feel quite confident that these towelettes will be a wonderful addition to your supermom bag of tricks. Take good care of yourself and your little guy, Barbara.

Functional Girl CJ Legare lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua, and is addicted to 2 percent organic milk. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She blogs at

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