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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ban Beige!

An interesting article came out of the New Orleans City Business newspaper the other day.

Beige, as in, the bland color of any wall of any home that you paint when you put it up for sale, is taking over New Orleans. The color's a pinch earthy and an overflow of drab neutrality. Beige is the facade color of choice in Uptown New Orleans, an area that once echoed the lower income downriver neighborhoods' vivacious pallets.

If you've never been to New Orleans, the range of hues you will see on homes will instantly transport you out of the U.S. and straight into Latin America. "That pink house" no longer has such power and landmark status as it might in St. Louis. In the Crescent City, that pink house may be on every other block!

So why is the encroachment of beige on once colorful blocks important?

“A very simple house will look fine in one color,” he said. “But a very elaborate Victorian house generally looks better if you pay attention to detail, if you acknowledge it. It needn’t be bold detail, but you want to do something.”

Such neutrality in a city that has staked its claim based on boldness and a highly unconventional atmosphere is in fact damaging. And it's not so much a historic issue in Uptown. After all, as the article notes, bright shades are more of a downriver phenomenon, in areas that trace their roots to settlement by free people of color. It's aesthetics. It's about standing out, not selling out.

St. Louis, as I've noted before, needs a heavy punch of color. Its red brick block faces are austere and imposing. I'm not recommending running amok with a paint roller and covering the intricacy of the brickwork in our fine town. Rather, this is a reprimand of new construction in the city.

Don't try to replicate 19th century brickmasons! Make it a bold and innovative design that evokes the greatness of the old without dumbing it down!

Most of all, use color!

Our little red bricked blushing city needs it.


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