Women everywhere are abuzz over the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James.  I’m dealing with mania of a different hue at my house.  Namely, my husband Michael is obsessed with the color brown. Before we got married, Michael had a great house in the suburbs.  He meticulously restored and remodeled the home into a warm and comfortable place for him to raise his son.  Michael’s home was manly — and really brown.   There were couches upholstered in dark brown, a brown leather recliner, beige carpets, mocha walls, and a lot of brown wood.  So much wood, in fact, that I’m sure Michael’s fantasy must have been to live in a log cabin in the forest rather than the outskirts of Orlando.  Michael’s home had a maple kitchen, walnut dining room, oak living room, mahogany guest room, cherry wood office suite, and a behemoth master bedroom set made of birch, ash, and cedar.  Pine French doors led out to his back patio — all in varying shades of brown.

Wood ceiling fans, bookcases, and picture frames adorned nearly every room of Michael’s house.  His love of brown did not end there, however.  Towels?  Brown.  Countertops?  Brown.  Place mats and napkins?  Brown.  Rugs?  Brown.  Salt and pepper shakers?  Brown.  Shower curtain?  Brown.  Bedding?  Take a wild guess.  Well, it was more of an ecru, actually, but that’s still considered a light shade of brown.  Even Michael’s closet was chock full of brown … brown t-shirts, polo shirts, work shirts, dress shirts, slacks, shorts, shoes, belts, socks.  Ah, the humanity!

In the haze of being in love, I found Michael’s proclivity for all-things-brown adorable.  What a guy.  A real man.  The embodiment of the educated lumberjack I’d been looking for my whole life.  Like the Brawny man, except with dark-rimmed glasses and brown hair (of course) instead of a blond mop, a nice brown button-down instead of a red and black checkered shirt, and wielding a calculator instead of an ax.

I guess the cloud of new love descended on Michael as well because he agreed to leave his Temple of Umber and move into my townhome after we were married.  For making such a grand sacrifice, I agreed to transform the first floor office and family room into Michael’s man cave and gave him veto power over decorating decisions.  For the last two months, I’ve excitedly shared my Pinterest boards with Michael and shown him a variety of different paint samples, fabrics, and furnishings.   Michael’s response is always the same:  “As long as it’s brown.”

Maybe Michael is onto something.  Maybe I should give brown the respect it deserves.  After all, what other color can match brown?  (That’s a rhetorical question.  Everything matches brown, which is a combination of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue.)  Brown conjures up images of the desert (camel, sand, and rust), as well as dessert (caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon).  Brown is earthy (clay), energetic (espresso), and risky (tobacco).  Brown is ubiquitous … everywhere you look there’s tan, tawny, and taupe; fallow, fawn and fulvous; sienna and sinopia.

Last weekend, Michael and I finally made it to the furniture store to pick out the new sofa for the man cave.  As fortune would have it, we both liked the same L-shaped sectional!  It was plush and comfortable with a large ottoman.  Michael sat patiently as I flipped through the dozen or so fabric choices and carefully weighed the pros and cons of each.  I chose the color granite – a beautiful steel-grey that would exude just the right balance of masculinity and elegance.

Our new sectional will be delivered in six to eight weeks.  It is a lovely shade of brown.

Michael staining a wood ledge in his former home.

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