My kitchen is a place of alchemy where the everyday magically transforms into something rare & precious. The decor is whimsically functional and ebbs and flows with the seasons, as does the cooking & the conversation. In winter the shelves are filled with coffee mugs, soup bowls, crock pots and candles , all within easy reach for daily use. In summer there are water jugs, bowls of fruit, pots of fresh herbs and platters for big summer salads.
As of last week large parts of it are also now painted a dusty soft saturated yellow that reminds me of the homemade ice cream my mom used to make for us when we were little. I have a really distinct memory from when I was five years old. I know I was five because in it we are on a farm on the outskirts of Johannesburg so it is after we left Zimbabwe and before we moved to the suburbs. My boho beautiful mama is sitting outside on a sawn off log with a tub of salted ice at her feet, a metal mixing bowl is sitting on the ice and in it she is whisking the ice cream mix as it freezes. My sister and I are making a hide-and-seek game out of the fresh sheets on the washing line, the dogs lie panting in the pepper tree shade and in the background is the constant murmurous hum of the bees in the peach orchard, industrious even in the heat.
The ice cream, I recall, was a rich butter yellow, made from our own free range eggs with their fat saffron yolks and the thick globs of cream saved up from the top of the week’s fresh farm milk. Tiny scoops of the precious bounty were produced by a melon baller and served in my grandmother’s silver egg cups with silver salt spoons just the right size for chubby little hands. It is this same mellow yellow I settled on when mixing the paint to revamp my tired and chippy kitchen dressers during lockdown, and perhaps it is the memories engendered which make my newly cheery kitchen feel so safe and happy. It could also be simple psychology.
Yellow is the strongest colour psychologically as it has a long wavelength and is therefore emotionally stimulating. At its best it encourages optimism, emotional strength, friendliness and creativity. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that it also boosts metaboIism but I have a feeling that may be wishful thinking on my part. In general I am not, and never have been, a yellow person and up until now the only yellow you would find in my home would be the odd bunch of gifted daffs. Yet a year (to the week) ago I handed over a work project where I painted the entire triple height bar in a rich lacquered ochre beautifully offset by dark oak panelling and a reclaimed parquet floor. I went on to paint waiters’ stations in another seaside project in Annie Sloan’s beautiful new colour Arles, and I started pinning yellow pics on Pinterest. It seems the die were cast.
I hesitated to bring the trend home though. The last time I purchased anything yellow for my house it was a throw for my bed (in almost the exact same shade) and I was pregnant with my daughter. At the time I asked a good friend of mine who was a colour therapist what significance, if any, that held and she said yellow is the colour of change. Perhaps that explains it then, why lockdown finally inspired me to take the plunge, during a time when we are facing huge change and we may all have to reinvent ourselves in order to keep moving forward.
It has been suggested that what happens in lockdown stays in lockdown, and I can’t promise that this colour has found a forever home in my kitchen. But I can say that for now, I am loving it and we can all do with a little more yellow in our lives.
Dresser & sink unit painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint from Matthew Williams Interiors in Frome. Colours Tilton & Old White (4:1), with a little dark wax.
Walls painted with Autentico Paint in Volterra, Paris White.
I work in interior and brand design for the hospitality sector. My blog explores #slow living and a sustainable lifestyle in the modern world.