Saturday, September 14, 2013

Balancing the browns

I haven't been alone in wondering how to liven up a dull, monochromatic patio - I can tell that from this blog's search term stats.  In my case, my entire patio was originally cast in shades of brown.  Brown bricks, brown trim paint, brown ceiling, brown furniture.  And brownish-grey concrete on the floor. 

I realized the first big improvement by painting the ceiling a shade of sky blue:
I should have called it Brown Hole of Calcutta.  Screengrabbed from this post
I then took a junked TV-VCR stand and painted it in shade of grey with blue undertones, in order to create...
Screengrabbed from this post
The trouble was, it was still pretty dull, even after those two changes.  Still too much brown.  So I ended up trying another Overstock experiment in procuring this new outdoor rug:
The original rug beneath the picnic table was also mostly brown.  It is a great outdoor area rug of wonderful quality - I got it on sale for very little money at the FM 518 Kroger last year.  But it was brown
I was intrigued by this thing, a line named Safavieh by Thomfilicia, because it was advertised as being made of "recycled plastic". 

The background was described on some web pages as being "brown", but it's actually quite grey, especially in the north light of our patio.
There seems to have been some variability in production.  That's a grab from the manufacturer's website on the left, and a grab from this Overstock listing on the right.  In my experience, the photos on Overstock are usually quite close to the appearance of the actual products, so I took a gamble that my rug would show up looking more grey than brown.  Thankfully, it did, because bluish-grey was what I needed. 
It really is made out of woven strands of plastic.
And it's also reversible, which the marketing materials don't really state. 
I thought about using the more-blue side, but it was too much. 
Rug in place. 
Now the picnic table stands out, whereas before it was just brown-on-brown.  The grey background of the rug coordinates perfectly with the paint color of the sideboard.  And the blue on the ground now echoes the blue on the ceiling, although the ceiling is now looking a bit washed out in comparison.  I may yet intensify that shade for better coordination. 

I'm happy with the product and I intend to keep it, but I will offer one piece of perspective:  I don't know how it would stand up to a high-traffic application.  The plastic filaments of which it is woven are relatively soft.  I'm not sure how it would wear under intense usage.
The manufacturer's care recommendations seem to warn against abrasion, such as with vacuum brushes. 
I'll offer another piece of perspective:  I used the word "needed" in a photo caption above, but nobody "needs" to replace one perfectly good outdoor rug with another one.  In fact, nobody really "needs" an outdoor rug at all.  As Americans, we don't "need" about 85% of the stuff with which we surround ourselves, and in fact, we withstand no small amount of bashing for our alleged overconsumption.  That article I linked there closes with the mantra "live simply so others may simply live".  However, it might have appended the prepositional phrase "in poverty" to the end of that mantra.  All this overconsumption that we do... it does have a resource management downside, but it also has a human interest upside.  That rug shown above reportedly was manufactured in India, but much of what we overconsume comes from its next-door neighbor China, where over six hundred million people have been lifted out of poverty because of capitalist expansion in the past few decades.  Yes, they sell us a lot of stuff which we might be better off not having at all.  No, they don't realize American-style personal wealth as they do it - welcome to your imperfect world.  But capitalism works, and on balance, I don't feel too guilty about turning my house into a suburban work of art in the process of engaging in it. 

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