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A paint chip by any other name would look as good

Written by Rebecca Christian

Not since Juliet has the psychology behind naming been questioned as intriguingly as in a recent piece about the small, and sometimes odd, little world of naming paint colors http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/us/30paint.html. The article has a nifty interactive multiple choice quiz where you are shown a color and guess its name. Who woulda thunk that Weekend in the Country would be brown, Hey There would be yellow, Dead Salmon would be taupe and Arsenic would be green?

Farrow & Ball's Arsenic

The fact that some of the names don't sound all that attractive doesn't matter, marketers say, as long as they capture people's imaginations. I suppose the same could be said for book and movie titles, like Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes and the kid movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Dorothy Parker, who got sick of reading about heroines with russet curls or ebony manes, used to refer to her hair as hair-colored hair. I once bought moody blue-gray carpet that really didn't work very well in my house and stained like a son of a gun because of its beautifully melancholic name, "October Storm." Last year, when I had the exterior of my twenties-era Arts and Crafts house repainted, I chose from Valspar's historically accurate Craftsman palette, with much better results.

Valspar Craftsman Colors

(alas, not my house)

Like many women, I'm a sucker for nail polish and lipstick with pretty names. Even though it's a little dark for me, especially in warm weather, I can't resist the Revlon lipstick  "Cherries in the Snow." There's a dessert by the same name. I wonder which came first.

Today's cosmetic colors are whimsical and sometimes a little weird. Essie Nail Colors has Starter Wife (pastel pink) Jamaica Me Crazy (spirited magenta), Pillow Talk (nude), Tart Deco (Coral), Damsel in a Dress (deep purple) and Trophy Wife (teal). A comic blog, Shoebox, suggests lipstick names Stubborn Bloodstain, There's Something on Your Lip, and my fave, Old-Lady-Scalp Pink.

Essie's Starter Wife Nail Color

For the Goth girl, Urban Decay has a line of lip products with downright scary names: Envious, Greedy, Trainwreck, Buzzkill, and Paranoid. I guess wearing Trainwreck is no worse painting your house Tornado. If you're going to tempt fate that way, better keep a bottle of polish and a fistful of paint decks handy in the southwest corner of the basement so you have something to do while waiting out the storm.

 

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