Chartreuse & terra cotta

benvenuto project

228img1My family and I spent a part of our summer on the Tuscan coast of Italy this year, near Castiglione della Pescaia.  From the villa we rented on a lovely gentleman’s farm, we took day trips into the Tuscan countryside and to the ancient hilltop cities sprinkled throughout.  Surrounded by so much beauty – both natural and man-made – I furiously tried to capture the colors around me with photos and sketches.

I am convinced that early Italians were born with an innate sense of color.  Their stucco homes of burnt yellow and oranges and pinks sit effortlessly in the landscape, perfectly blending with nature’s intended color palette. Who would dream of painting their homes these colors today? Who would have the confidence?

But the Italians seem to know the secret that when these otherwise outrageous colors are paired up with architectural details in creams, taupes and earthy greens, the edges are softened just enough to make it work. Admittedly, it helps that the color on many of these structures has baked under the Tuscan sun for a few hundred years, fading back to a subtle tint of the original. But I’ll bet they knew it would be gorgeous from the beginning.

italy yellow stuccoThe combination of chartreuse and terra cotta pink had such an incredible impact on me.  This uncommon pairing is both sophisticated and playful  – a truly versatile combination that, when used carefully, can create just the right mood for home or product design.

When I returned home to New York, I set to work re-coloring some recent artwork using this new found palette. Adding in highlights of seafoam green and an under-story of taupe, I created an entirely new grouping of patterns that I couldn’t wait to use in some way.

italy color

Once our bags were unpacked (and I had recovered from 10 hours on a plane with my two wiggly little boys), we invited family over for dinner, newly inspired by the great meals we had eaten. (Pumpkin ravioli with sage and butter sauce!)

Using my newly re-colored patterns, I strung the letters for “benvenuto” — Italian for “welcome” — onto a chartreuse satin ribbon and attached it to our front door before our guests arrived.  It was an incredible trip. But it was nice to be home.

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For instructions on how to make your own decorative welcome banner, visit the Share section.

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