For months, the striped duvet and shams in the Pottery Barn catalog wowed me and called me. When it comes to decorating, our master bedroom is at the bottom of the barrel. The dining room, living room, powder room, kid’s bathroom and kids’ bedrooms have always taken priority over ours. It’s just the way we’ve operated. So there wasn’t any chance I was getting that Pottery Barn duvet until Chrismas Eve 2008 when I opened a surprise package from my mama. Somehow, she’d gotten whiff that I wanted that duvet. She bought it and packaged it up pretty with my name on top. It seems silly now, but I shed a few tears over that surprise. Because somebody noticed what I loved, somebody cared, somebody bought me something beautiful. Just for me.
Within a couple weeks, I’d ordered shams and pillows. In no time flat, the set was up. Bright and beautiful, comfortable and classy, just the way I envisioned it.
Now all we needed was fresh paint.
We just so happened to be working with an interior decorator on window treatments for our living room, kitchen, entryway, and two kids’ bedrooms, so when he came over for the consultation, we brought him upstairs to look at paint colors for our master bedroom.
I had a plan. I had a vision. I’m telling you now, I knew what I wanted before the interior decorator even stepped in the room. I wanted green, one of the shades of green in the duvet. Either shade, any complementary shade of green would do. That’s all I wanted. GREEN. Just make it green, please.
I told him straight up. “I want green. I was thinking green. Like this shade or this shade.”
He pulled out his big ring, flipped through all the blessed colors of green, and by golly, green just didn’t seem to settle right with him. (To this day, I still wonder if he didn’t have a true paint match, or whether he just downright hated green. The world will never know.)
“How about tan?” asked the interior decorator as he flipped through his color ring in search of the perfect tan to match my beloved duvet.
“I’d really love a dark brown wall,” my husband added. “Maybe on this wall, behind our bed.”
Honestly, I don’t even know how green turned to tan and dark brown, but it did. Before I knew it, this wall was going to be dark brown, this wall was going to be tan, so forth and so forth. Right before my eyes, the whole room had been revised. Tan and dark brown. And oh yes, let’s add a dark red stripe on the top AND on the bottom for good measure. Maybe it sounded like a good idea at the time. Yes, that would pull the color and pull the stripe up from the duvet onto the wall. A pop of color. Yes, indeed. I reasoned with myself, I convinced myself that’s just what we needed.
So up it went. Up went the paint. We hired the interior decorator’s suggested painter to come and do it. Because TAN plus DARK BROWN plus a DARK RED stripe not only on the top, but the bottom, too, was going to be a lot of work and there was no way I was doing this myself.
I liked it at first. It was good.
I had my duvet. I had my shams. I’d even met the interior decorator at the discount fabric store and found the crazy floral fabric for our window treatments (all by myself, mind you…without his help, but with his approval).
But as each day passed, I grew to hate the tan, the dark brown, and especially the red stripes on the top and bottom of our walls.
I never wanted tan.
I never wanted dark brown.
I never wanted dark red. And I never wanted stripes.
I loved the striped duvet.
I loved the striped shams.
But I wanted GREEN on the walls. GREEN.
Every morning since the winter of 2009, I’ve woken up next to my beloved husband, snuggled up in my striped duvet. I look over on my dresser where I keep a family photo and all my Kenya, Haiti & Dominican treasures, and I’m grateful for the life and opportunities God has given me. But then I look up at the Target tan and red walls, I look over to our beautifully framed wedding photo and the big red stripe right above it, and I’m reminded that I LOST. MY. VOICE. I didn’t know how to assert myself in a moment that counted. Sure, paint color WAS and IS a simple thing, a superficial thing. Honestly, paint color doesn’t matter one iota in the scheme of much-more-important life things. But my voice DOES matter. My opinion DOES matter. What I THINK, what I HOPE for, what I WANT, what I DREAM of, and what I LOVE DOES matter. I must not deny that. I must not deny my voice. Even when it comes to superficial things, like green walls.
Not now, but sometime in the next year or two, we’re hoping to buy new furniture and bedding for our master bedroom. As two first borns, it takes us a bazillion years to agree on pretty much anything, so we’re already starting to look and dream and talk a bit about what that new bedroom furniture and bedding might look like.
This week, we received a Pottery Barn catalog in the mail. I’ve been throwing them straight away for months because we’re not in the position to buy furniture, bedding or anything from Pottery Barn right now. But this time, we did take a peek. My husband wants this page…neutrals, grays, dark browns with a light neutral on the walls. I want something more like that page…creams, linens, with more color in the quilt. And I won’t say what color I’d like on the walls until I know what bedding we’d get.
Yes, I reminded my husband that I won’t be promising anything this time.
Because I’ve learned my lesson.
I will not surrender my voice to paint colors. I will not surrender my voice to the colors on a quilt. I will not surrender my voice to the type of wood we have or the type of light fixtures that hang from our wall, or anything of the sort.
Never again will I stare at a wall for 9 years, letting it remind me that I not only surrendered, but LOST my voice for no good reason.
Just in case you wondered where all the passion comes over paint colors…this losing my voice for no good reason? It isn’t a first, you know. This isn’t about green paint. This isn’t about tan or dark brown. This isn’t about red stripes. This isn’t about my beloved duvet. This isn’t about me being married to another first born or us taking a bazillion years to choose things together. This isn’t about our interior decorator. This isn’t a debate about superficial things vs. things that really matter. This isn’t about me being a bratty baby and needing to “suck it up buttercup” because paint color doesn’t matter in light of hurricanes and fires, nuclear bombs and starving children. This is about me OWNING my VOICE, being able to express myself and standing strong and steady in that space. This is about me seeing that I matter, that my thoughts and opinions count for something, that I was created for a reason and that I should feel free to release my voice and gifts into the world just as much as anyone else.
Bet your bottom dollar, I’m saving my beautiful, beloved duvet for a guest room. Maybe this time, I’ll paint the walls green.