Is grey the new black?

Is grey the new black?

Like many women of my age, my hair is rapidly becoming greyer by the day. I was looking at some old photos recently and noticed that over the past eight years both my husband and I have gone from having brown hair (or black in his case), to having significant amounts of grey.

Unlike most of the women of my age, I have resisted colouring my hair for a few different reasons.

I’m too lazy

Having to ‘touch up my roots’ every few weeks is tedious. Once you go beyond having a little bit of grey at your temples, you really need to keep on top of the grey roots down the entire length of your part. One of my friends calls this ‘controlling the skunk’. Personally, I’ve got better things to do.

It’s the real me

Another reason I haven’t dyed my hair is because I think it encourages other women to embrace who they are and not be afraid of showing their true selves to the world. I don’t think of myself as some kind of feminist role model, but I do often have women say they wish they were brave enough to just be who they are, grey hair and all.

The downside

The unfortunate part of going grey is that the lack of hair colour really drains you and can make you look rather drab.

If you’ve been dying your hair for a long time, it’s quite hard let your it revert to its natural colour, be that brown, grey, or a salt and pepper mixture of the two. It takes at least six months to grow out the colour, during which you can look pretty dreadful.

Reframe your thinking

I am only too well aware that my grey hair makes me look quite a lot older than my colleagues of the same age, but a friend once told me that in Thailand grey hair is regarded as a symbol of wisdom and the more grey you are, the more you are revered. I don’t need to be revered, but it was a pleasant reminder that being older (and maybe wiser) is not necessarily a bad thing.

Put some colour in your life

If you are thinking about letting your hair go grey, it’s worthwhile thinking about other ways you can add colour to your life. A touch of lipstick, a colourful scarf and some bright earrings can add a bit of zing and be very effective.

Pantone announces colour of the year

Pantone is a large and influential commercial printing company. They invented the colour matching system. This is a standardised system that gives each precise colour a specific number and means that printers across the world will achieve exactly the same results in their printed materials, regardless of where their press is located. Pantone colours are patented and include metallic colours as well as hues from the traditional colour spectrum.

Every January, Pantone announces their ‘Colour of the Year’ and this has an enormous influence on fashion designers, web designers, florists and pretty much anyone in the design business. The decision about the colour of the year is made behind closed doors and is announced with a flurry of announcements and fanfare.

It will come as no surprise to you that the Pantone colour for 2012 was tangerine. Did you think that all those orange websites, dresses and handbags were just a coincidence? No, it was definitely the trendy colour for last year, but now it’s out of date and we must move on.

This year the colour is emerald.

Not just any old emerald, but Pantone Emerald 17 – 5641. It’s a beautiful colour. Look out for an explosion of greeny/blue in the coming year. You will see it popping up everywhere.

I am really happy that this year’s colour is emerald as it’s one of my favourite colours (hence my new peacock feather header theme). I’m going to use it as often as I can.

What does this mean for you?

You will be able to amaze your friends by telling them why emerald is the ‘in’ colour for 2013.

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Design by Nature

Hello there everyone

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bev’s comment that nature has a lot to teach us so I thought I’d write a bit more about this today. I don’t want to get into a big theological discussion here, but I do think that designs in nature are truly amazing, especially the colour combinations that just magically work together.

I have recently discovered a lovely blog called Design Seeds. It’s based on a very simple idea – an interior designer posts images from nature alongside a colour palette. This means that if you like the look of an image, you can use the same colour scheme in your blog, website, presentation or brochure and it will look beautiful.  Here are a couple of examples. Beautiful aren’t they?

You can see more here:







After I discovered this site, I wondered if this was something I could do myself so I did some research and discovered this cool (and free) online tool called CSS Drive Image to Color Palette Generator 

You simply upload your own photo (less than 1mb and not wider than 1,000 pixels) and click on the generator and hey presto a colour palette appears like this:

Colour palette generator

It’s fun, have a go yourself.

Let me know if it works for you, it took me a few goes.

What I love most about this is that you don’t need to have any talent at choosing colours, you just need to know what you find attractive and that’s easy.

We all know what we like and don’t like, even if we can’t put it into words.





A little bit MORE on colour theory

A little bit MORE on colour theory


In doing the research for this post, I am again struck by how confusing colour theory is, so once again I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible for my own sake and yours.

So let’s start with the term hue. Basically this is a fancy word for what you and I would call a colour. Hues are the pure bright colours that we see on a colour wheel.

A shade is one of these pure colours with black added to it. So the words to the song ‘A whiter shade of pale’ are a bit misleading and should be ‘a darker shade of pale’.

A tint is any colour with white added and a tone is any colour with both black and white added (in other words grey!). So when people ask you to tone down your behaviour, they mean just that.


I think the main reason is so that you can sound a bit wise and you can participate in conversations about colour. One of the things that makes a beginning designer feel like a beginner is not having a good grasp of the terminology, so I think its a good idea to get used to using the correct terms for things. But mostly, learning the terminology is just the first step to exploring the wonderful world of colour and understanding how to select and use colour palettes in your design work.

When you see something that ‘just works’ this will usually be because the concept is clear, the language is easy to understand and the images support the concept, rather from detracting from it or confusing the issue. They are a lot of elements in making something beautiful and clear and one of these is colour.

Check out this website for some good info about colour

A little bit of colour theory

In my last post I mentioned the importance of choosing the right colours for your presentation, so I thought I would explore this topic a little bit more today.

Recently one of my friends asked me to help her with a presentation she was giving to a group of nurses. We talked a bit about what she wanted to say, and what impression she wanted to give the audience and we had quite a bit of fun fooling around with different slide backgrounds and colour combinations. The original presentation was on a grey background with pink text and bullet points (yes it did include bullet points, more about that later). We finally decided on a cool grey/green colour scheme as we both thought it said ‘this is a serious topic’.

This led me to think about whether you really need to understand how colour works or do you just need to know what impression you want to give and then choose the colours to suit the topic, the audience, and the context in which the presentation is being delivered. In other words…


You can probably get away with the approach described above as long as you are not working with someone with weird taste who insists on using a colour scheme that is wildly inappropriate. In this situation, it might be really handy to be able to talk with some authority about what colours should be used when and where. But where do you start?


I find colour theory very confusing and that’s a terrible thing to admit given that my first real job was as a photographic colour printer. Having never studied art, it was only fairly recently that I got to understand how a colour wheel works, so I’ll try to explain it to you and maybe that will help me too!

There are basically only three colours –  red, blue and yellow and all the other colours are made from mixing these together in various combinations. When you mix the primary colours together you get secondary colours, and when you mix a primary with a secondary you get lots of colours. Confused yet?

I understand this, but I don’t think it really matters all that much, so don’t get too hung up on it. You really just need to get a colour wheel and stick it on your wall. What is really important to understand how to choose colours from the colour wheel. You have two choices – you can either choose colours that are opposite one another on the wheel (these are called complementary) or choose colours that are next to one another (these are called analogous). Complementary colours are like a happily married couple who are really different in every way, but complement one another really well. Think Ying and Yang, think yellow and purple. Analogous colours are like members of the same family. They tend to look similar, and can blend in well with one another. Think blue and aqua.

colour-wheel (Photo credit: Jasmic)

As a general rule is that you should use complementary colours for contrast and analogous colours for harmony.

I think that’s enough for now. Next week we’ll talk about tint, hue, shade and tone.

I strongly recommend that you check out this website for some more useful information and some lovely examples of websites that use different colours to create different impressions.