Chartreuse, Spice and All Things Nice!

May 29, 2012

I’m thrilled to report that Interior Designer Barry Johnson (of “Barry’s Babylon” color fame) was quoted in the June House Beautiful Magazine, naming our “Chartreuse” as his favorite healing color in the article where designers shared their favorite “life-changing colors” (color #5). Here’s Barry’s quote in HB:

“This color is about birth, growth and nature. It’s the color of new leaves. Chartreuse can be very acid but this is more of a soft yellow-green, Easy to work with. I see it in a Master Bedroom with creamy linens and a touch of coral. It would bring in some life.”

I created my full spectrum version of Akzo Nobel’s “Color of the Year” for 2007 and named it “Chartreuse” because it is the perfect balance between yellow and green. It is actually more traditional than the name suggests and I’ve used it recently on a couple of projects down here to brighten up spaces that had lots of dark wood (floors, beams, etc.).

I recently recommended it to Courtenay Dunk, author of the wildly popular SpiceLines.com Blog, when she sent me this photo of her office, saying that she was having trouble selecting a new wall color because all the samples she tried tended to have a greenish cast. In addition to her divine red & white chaise longue and rug, the only other major color in the space was her turquoise desk chair.


Courtney’s “before” photo of her office.

As soon as she said “turquoise”, Chartreuse immediately came to mind. I also figured if the light in the room tended towards green, why not enhance it and go with a green.


All photos are courtesy of Courtenay Dunk, SpiceLines.com.

The turquoise in the recesses of her bookshelves needed some special attention since the shadows affected how the colors we tried (Turquoise, Tiffany Turquoise and Eco Hues’ Peacock Blue) looked. We ended up going with 75% of the Peacock Blue formula, which turned out to be a gorgeous color and perfect with the Chartreuse.

When I first heard from Courtenay, I was immediately intrigued by her website, SpiceLines.com, in her email signature, so I visited it to discover a treasure trove of information about spices, cooking, exotic places and more! Courtenay describes herself as “obsessive cook, style fanatic, avid traveler, reluctant writer, food photographer when the light is right”, and as you can see by her photos, she’s quite the talented photographer!

When we finally talked over the phone, I asked her more about her office. She explained that this is where she writes her spice blog and her grandmother’s chaise longue is where she has tea most afternoons (and sometimes a nap). Books on the shelves are about spices, herbs and cooking. Objects have been collected on her travels.


All photos courtesy of Courtenay Dunk of SpiceLines.com


On top of the Tibetan chests there are jars of rare Indian peppercorns Courtenay picked up in Paris. “This is ‘le sniffing bar,’ where I try to keep my sense of smell honed by inhaling the scent of different spices everyday. Right now I’m trying to distinguish between varieties of peppercorns grown in different regions without looking at the labels.” 


The Buddhist Lohan is a beneficent figure whose presence bestows good fortune. 

Courtenay’s blog is far more than an interesting read. She also helped a coffee grower she met in Veracruz who was about to go out of business, turn his business around! You can read about it in her post, “The Butterfly Effect“.

Here’s what she says about her new Chartreuse office:

“I love your Chartreuse so much that I haven’t hung a single picture on the walls. It’s soft and lively at the same time.  When I’m working in my office, I feel as if I’m bathed in a gorgeous light that relaxes and recharges the spirit.  The modified Tiffany blue is like a little glimpse of the Caribbean.  It’s a more electric hue which really makes the inside of the bookcases pop.  The two colors are fantastic together, especially with the red in the upholstery and the Moroccan rug.”

If you’d like a hand-painted sample of Chartreuse, email me at ellen@ellenkennon.com with your address and we’ll get one right out to you!


  1. Ellen, looks fabulous! Was the trim painted the same color as the walls? Personally, I’m liking that approach best. I’m totally not into white trim. I just read Bryan Batt’s book on the big easy and thought he had lots of good stuff re: color. Have you worked with him? He listed Jon Vaccari in the back of the book.

    • Thanks Diane! Yes, Chartreuse was used on walls, trim and bookshelves. I have not worked with Bryan but met him at a booksigning party at Jon’s showroom recently!

  2. This room is all about color! Luscious, inspirational, almost edible. Glorious. (Can you tell I love it?) Great to see an unpredictable use of color be so successful.

    • Thank you Dana! I love it, too! The design, of course, is by Courtenay!

  3. Ellen,
    The color is absolutely beautiful, and I love the contrast with the color in the backs of those bookcases. What an amazing space that you brought to life!

  4. […] Chartreuse, Spice and All Things Nice! (ellenkennon.wordpress.com) […]

  5. […] thanks to paint wizard Ellen Kennon, I’m now enveloped in a truly delicious shade […]

  6. […] thanks to paint wizard Ellen Kennon, I’m now enveloped in a truly delicious shade […]

  7. […] Both “Chartreuse” and “Circa Green” are very warm yellow-greens. Although “Chartreuse” sounds like it would be a bright color, in reality, it’s actually quite traditional. It looks wonderful with a complete range of wood tones and really sings when you combine it with cool blue greens like “Oasis”, “Gustavian Grey”, and “Tiffany Turquoise” and reds like spice blogger Courtenay Dunk used in her office (photographed below). For more on Chartreuse, see my previous blog post “Chartreuse, Spice and All Things Nice“. […]

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