I would like to know why beige is the required colour for houses and offices and public buildings and hotels in Kamloops.
Did City council pass another bylaw? Maybe an addendum to its “no chickens” regulation?
My neighbours’ houses are beige. Our city’s newest hotel is beige. (Please, Mr. Gaglardi, make your hotel anything but beige.)
If a Kamloops building isn’t beige, it’s white or grey. That’s as adventuresome as we get in these parts.
I may have found out last weekend why we love beige the way we do. Syd and I enjoyed the Homes for the Holidays tour in which a half dozen local homes are decorated for Christmas by local stores and designers — truly delightful.
One of the houses on this year’s tour is a heritage home built by William Slavin on West Seymour Street before the 19th century turned into the 20th.
As long as I can remember, that house was painted a benign white, a colour people insist on painting old houses. New owners restored this beautiful old house and returned it to its original colours — bright red siding with green trim.
It was a brave thing to do, since it stands out among ordinary houses with ordinary colours like a bright red Christmas ornament on a pallet of brown. And that’s the thing — nobody likes to stand out, nobody likes to take risks.
That house is a risk, and a wonderful one. It’s a statement; it brings energy to the entire street. Few would have the courage to paint a house bright red with green trim in Kamloops.
No, we prefer to play it safe, but it has its downsides. Have you ever tried giving someone directions to your house? “Ours is the beige one.”
Remember a few years ago when the Plaza Hotel got a new paint job? It caused a minor controversy because it wasn’t beige.
When Tina Lange became a part owner, one of the first things she said she wanted to do was repaint it beige. Or, at least, something less jarring than its current peach.
I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of buildings in Kamloops that are not beige, grey or white. That’s not the way it is in other parts of the world, where people appreciate colour in their buildings.
Newfoundland is one of them. How wonderful their streetscapes are with each house a different colour — blue, green, yellow and blue. No white, no beige.
I thought I might find more explanation of our fascination with beige, but there’s surprisingly little available. One blogger does describe beige as “the colour of evil.”
(His explanation goes something along the lines of white being the colour of virtue and beige trying to look as much like white as it can.)
Another website asks why the original computer colour was beige (the answer is obvious — manufacturers were playing it safe); another wants to know by beige computers turn yellow. Not much help there.
Abandoning my “why beige?” query, I turned to “define beige.” It’s described as “a light grayish brown or yellowish brown to grayish yellow.”
Does that sound inspiring?
The one thing beige has going for it is that it totally suites today’s uninspiring architecture. Clearly, architecture students are being taught that all new buildings, especially public and commercial buildings, must be square with aluminum-clad windows and beige stucco.
Throw in a false front at the entrance and we’re good to go.
No, our forefathers had the right idea. Give me a multi-coloured classic Queen Anne or an angular Craftsman over today’s boxes any day.
And hat’s off to the fellow who put orange stucco on his house in Westsyde. It catches my eye every time I drive past it. You, sir, are clearly a man who eschews the ordinary.
Would there were more like you.