Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coloring My World

3.5 years ago, prior to my arrival, Ole moved into our house and, with the help of his dad, painted the entire house in good old painter's white. The great plan was that when I arrived, we would then choose some actual paint with which to decorate the place. Up until a month ago, everything was still white. Shocking, no?

An interior decorator I am most definitely not! I find the process of picking paint colors, rugs, curtains, and other associated knick-knacks to be excruciatingly painful. On the other hand, laying on the sofa staring at blank white walls is equally painful, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So off to the paint store we went - finally!

When you shop for paint in the US, you will be instantly overwhelmed with racks and racks of little 2x1 colored squares, on strips, from which to choose. Each color will have a carefully chosen name which is just about as relevant to the actual color as the names typically chosen for lipstick. Should you choose "autumn pumpkin" or "fireball sunset"? Sure, both are some shade related to orange, but they can't just call it orange as there are probably 500 strips of color that all fall somewhere between yellow and red and labeling them Orange 1, Orange 2, etc., would just bore people.

But the names serve another purpose - they let you choose your color based on a feeling. Autumn Pumpkin evokes memories of wandering a field of pumpkins in October, picking those perfect specimens that will then be carefully carved, adorned with a candle, and left to rot on your front porch until some teenagers come along to smash them in the street. Ahh, sweet pumpkins. If you want to have this memory of Halloweens gone-by everyday, then Autumn Pumpkin may just be for you! But perhaps a 'Fireball Sunset" is more to your liking. Perhaps you live where you don't ever get to see a proper sunset and would like to experience that feeling each evening in your living room. The bottom line is that Orange #4 just doesn't quite give you that same ease of choice - it has no meaning, and therefore, no memories - 'tis just a color. And without feelings, the process of choosing is just too difficult!

I thought everything would be the same here in DK. I was wrong. We arrived at the paint store only to find that there were no walls of paint chips. There weren't any books full of pictures of what Mango Mango could do for your living room, or what Apricot Dream could do for your kitchen. There was just a dude behind the counter and walls of nondescript buckets of paint. We went to the counter and the dude handed us a fandeck of the NCS color system - 1700+ colors. All without names. All simply labeled with the official NCS color codes.

It's a very mathematical system they've designed; apparently the Swedes are responsible. The color codes look like this: S 3010-G50Y, which I suppose is very helpful if you're trying to match the new carpet you purchased in S 3010-G10Y. Yep, exactly. To start this process, I had a general idea of what I wanted. For my office, I was looking for something in a terracotta type color, and for our living room, I wanted some sort of sage green. So I spun the deck, flipped back and forth, and did my best to make some choices. We left the store with 3 sample bottles of colors related to orange, and 3 samples of colors related to green.

We splashed my office walls with the 3 shades of orange so that I could sit and stare at them for a day and see which appealed to me the most. That plan worked out quite well and I was able to pick 1 of the 3 - woohoo! We splashed the living room with 3 shades of green, and that didn't really go as planned. One was too dark, one was too 1983 and the other was just ugly. Total strike-out. The next day, Ole went back to get the orange I had chosen, and to get 2 more samples of greens. The two new samples were equally horrible, but they also didn't match to the chips I had seen and we were convinced they hadn't been mixed correctly. At this point, I was just so frustrated by the process.

Off to the internet I went, searching for pictures that would speak to me by people who do such things as paint their kitchen and then put it on the web for all to see with the name of the paint. I found a forum at gardenweb full of green painted rooms and I learned that Benjamin Moore's Saybrook Sage seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, if only I could purchase BM paint. But I can't. But... Benjamin Moore happens to be the licensed seller of the NCS paint line within the United States, so I decided that if I could call a BM retailer, he would surely know how Saybook Sage translated to an NCS color code. He didn't, but he did hook me up with a phone number for the Benjamin Moore company's service group and that was my next call. This man was initially not so helpful... "It is BM's policy that we cannot translate our colors to other manufacturers". Ahh, capitalism at it's best. I reverted to my most desperate voice and explained to the man that I was living in Denmark and if I could purchase his product, I most definitely would do so, but unfortunately I cannot and I am desperate to use his company's color, if only I could figure out what it is, but I'm a total wreck and please, oh please, Mr. Benjamin Moore rep, help me out here! It worked. He said they likely have the NCS colors somewhere in his offices and while it wouldn't be exact, he was willing to give it a go and see if he could eyeball the closest color match. He would call me back. Needless to say, I was skeptical that I would hear anything from him and went on to Plan B.

I found a number for an NCS agent in the New Jersey. I called, he answered, he was British. Weird. I went through my whole plea for help again. I explained what Benjamin Moore had told me. The NJ Brit felt my pain and was sure he could help. He took my phone number and said he'd call me back in 10 minutes. Wonder upon wonders, he did. He then presented me with 2 choices: S3010-G40Y and S3010-G50Y. I thanked him profusely, carefully wrote down the numbers and handed them to Ole to go fetch some paint. 5 Minutes later, he called again, this time being more decisive and said go with the 50Y over the 40Y. It sealed the deal. Then, surprise, surprise, while Ole was driving to the paint shop, the Benjamin Moore rep actually called me back with what he had decided would be the closest match. His pick? S3010-G50Y. Woohoo, we were on to something and both reps had chosen the same!

Ole fetched, we splashed, we loved, decision made. Our living room is now Benjamin Moore Saybrook Sage, or NCS S3010-G50Y. You decide which sounds more homey.

I don't yet have any pictures to share of the living room as the room isn't really decorated yet for the new color scheme and I'd rather show off a finished product. However, I will share with you my wonderful new 'hyggelig' office - it's not for everyone, but I happen to love it!

And yes, there is a desk in the office as well, but pictures of desks are boring!

In other news...
Today is treatment day. This is my first of 3 Taxotere (Docetaxel) treatments. I have no idea how it will go or how it will make me feel - we'll have to wait and see. Catch you on the other side of the drip!


  1. I'll be thinking of you - hope the treatment is kind to you.

    And wow - I love that vibrant orange... must be a kind of terracotta sunset with hints of fireball!

    Typical Swedes, I might add!

  2. Ooooh, bright!!! I love it! We'll be painting too, soon. Painted my den green when we moved in, not taking into account that the room was facing northeast. Bad move. It will be filled with bright colors henceforth, ochres and the like. My color god is Kevin Mccloud. He has this fabulous book that really helps me decorate at home. It's a great coffee table book at any rate, with loads of fun info! Can't wait to the the green you guys picked!

  3. You need to go to Midtgaard in Herning. There's your wall with your paint names. :)

    And that's a nice colour on your wall! Of course I'm biased, as I used to have the same in my living room...hehe.

  4. I have never been that obsessed with finding a particular colour that I would have called the states to get someone to help me find exactly the colour I'm looking for over here in Europe- but hey- more power to you!! It sure looks great and the fact that you are pleased with it is the only thing that matters!!!
    Hope the treatment does as Lady Fi said and treats you kindly..
    Have a great day in Denmark- the sun is finally out in Norway!!!

  5. I really love the orange!! Before I moved I went to Home Depot and snatched up a bunch of paint colors. Then we decided and took them to the paint store here. However, we were stuck looking in the big book o'color for Patrick's room. Didn't know you could get sample colors to try though! Will remember that for next time :)

  6. OMYGOD!!!

    I love it!

    Orange can be so tricky to get right, but you nailed it dearie!

  7. I love the colour! It is such a cosy yet energetic colour. I find most apartments in Denmark a seemless continuity of white on white. When I have a house of my own I hope to paint it in some brighter colours, tough it will feel almost illegal.- June, www.shetalkslikejune.com

  8. I'm really curious about the white walled houses and apartments you visit in Denmark? I find that most of my friends here have colours on their walls, ranging from pale yellow to dark grey, but I will give you that the older generation seems to prefer white or cream.

  9. as someone who has seen the newly painted walls, I can vouch and say the ORANGE LOOKS GREAT!!!!!!

  10. It looks gorgeous! Such a nice change from white. It also sounds like the green you finally got is meant to be.

  11. I love the bright colors and thanks for posting a pictures minus the desks... the "Laugh" in the window is brilliant!
    I hope your treatment is going well and you keep getting better :-)

  12. The walls look fabulous! Our last few apartments have been white on white and it's just so...blaaaaahhhh....

  13. I Married a Dane
    Yes, like you, I traveled across the sea and I married a Dane (or insert the appropriate Scandinavian country of origin). Although we live in the US now, my little family hopes to return to Denmark in the future and I started looking to see what kind of support there maybe there now. I came across the Danish Expat Bloggers and first began reading Kelli and Mads blog, as we have a lot in common. Then I followed the links and found your blog as well. I have been reading your blog (and others in your little group of Scandinavian based expats) for quite a while now and I had the nagging feeling that I needed to speak up and introduce myself. I have gladly followed your adventures with envy, as I really miss Denmark and have loved following the trials and tribulations of your journey to the place that does such a great job of raising wonderful husbands…After all, the main we thing we have in common is our love for our Vikings! Don’t they just make the world’s best husbands??????
    The first thing I do when I log on the computer is start with Kelli’s blog and work myself around the list and visit your blogs, and it has become quite stalker-ish, so I really need to let myself be known now…I know so much about your lives and you don’t know I even exist!
    My name is Lynette Jensen, my husband is Benny and our 13 year old daughter is Loryn. We live in Louisiana, in a rural area near my parents. Loryn attends the same small Pre-K to 12 school where that my father and I both graduated. Benny lived his first 27 years in the Sydhavn area of Copenhagen. My In-laws still live there. He lived in an apartment near Valby parken, until he bought a house just a few steps from Greve Strand just a short walk from Hundige Storcentre. That is where I called home when I lived in Denmark. After we married he sold it all and came to live with me in my home on the Cajun Prairie.
    I hope that you will include me in your expat group, as I‘d love to know someone that has faced the same trials the next time we visit (or move back to) Denmark. I’ve written a full introduction on my blog, I hope you follow my blog and comment so we can get to know one another. For those that are not American, (or even those who are) I’d love to explain how we live in Cajun Louisiana, and how we struggle to have a Danish household complete with rugbrød, frikadelle ,kartoffel og smørrebrød in a land of crawfish, gumbo, rice and gravy. I’d also be happy to share recipes for some good Cajun food.
    Please come to


    and meet my Danish-American family in Cajun Country! I also have several years of family photos but most importantly a documentation of our last trip back “home” to Denmark.
    P.S. I’m
    Lynette Litteral Jensen
    on Facebook! Can I be your friend?

  14. I think that color reminds me of the color we have in our basement bathroom...it is a terra cotta color and the best looking room in the house so far! :-)

    Sending hugs your way and hope the new treatment goes well.

  15. These are gorgeous could you let me know what colors they are? I think we have the same taste.


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