My Favorite Paint Color is “Pretty Ugly,” and I Think It Could Be Yours, Too

published Jul 19, 2022
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Credit: Shana Jade Trajanoska

While Apartment Therapy correctly predicted sage green would be all the rage this year, my heart has been sold to another shade of green. I’m obsessed with chartreuse and think you should be, too. 

Luckily for me, Backdrop offers the perfectly-named chartreuse shade, Pretty Ugly, a bold, bright green that could be seen as “too much” if it wasn’t so grounding. This almost-avocado hue delivers ’70s retro vibes while bringing to mind cut grass for a dose of nature-inspired charm. It’s just the drama I needed to wake up from my winter slump, so let me convince you why you might want to consider it, too.

For some background on my latest obsession, have you seen this heartwarming trend on TikTok lately? People are sharing photos of themselves in middle school or high school when they didn’t exactly have the best self-esteem while these lyrics, “I wish that I could be like the cool kids; ‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in” play over their slideshows. Their throwback snapshots are soon replaced with a series of present-day photos — proving to themselves that yes, they’re thriving now. Screen text like, “If only 13-year-old me could see me now,” gets me right in the heart every time. 

Credit: Shana Jade Trajanoska

Similarly, the color chartreuse represents a massive transition for me, a shade that I never thought I’d be “cool” — or really emboldened enough — to embrace. Once a closeted queer growing up in conservative Texas, I feared taking up too much space and being too colorful. I stayed far away from anything that would call attention to me. Flash forward a decade, and I cannot (cannot!) stop buying anything and everything in this eye-catching, quirky shade of green. I’m even going out of my way to splash this paint color on any wall I can get my hands on. 

Thankfully, I’ve found clients who are also embracing this shade, and you can see one example in the apartment of Coveteur editor Ama Kwarteng, who I worked with on the living room that’s shown here. “When we did our consultation and were talking about how we wanted the space to look, I was like, ‘I am not into the Instagram, all-white, minimalist look,'” Kwarteng said about our decorating collaboration. “No shade, but I just wanted my space to feel like me — not to feel like an algorithm — so I relied on my own taste.”

It didn’t take Kwarteng a ton of convincing to take this leap into chartreuse category, and I think that’s because somewhere along the line — maybe even dating back Pantone’s pick of a cousin shade, “Greenery,” as their 2017 color of the year — this color made the transition from off-putting to comforting, at least for some people. Maybe Pantone’s vice president Laurie Pressman said it best, in an interview with the Associated Press that December, when their pick was formally announced: “We always saw it as a bold color, but it may not have been accepted by some people. Today we look at this as a color associated with innovation. It takes on a whole different feeling.”

Back to the Backdrop paint color, I like that its name, “Pretty Ugly,” gives the shade even more complexity. By dubbing it conventionally “ugly,” for once, the color isn’t just valued for the typical aesthetic reasons. The color says something about the type of person who is bold enough to embrace it. 

As author Katy Kelleher writes, “It’s reminiscent of the green you glimpse in a rainbow or a prism, that impossibly vivid color that sears your eyeballs. Chartreuse seems to glow.” I want to glow with this green — whether it’s through paint, a curated outfit, or even just a funky, late-night drink with friends.