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Soft lavender is neutral that goes with just about every color

Posted on November 30 2016

By Carleton Varney

Special to the Daily News

I’ve written before in this space about luscious lavender. It’s among my decorating favorites but has, until lately, lagged behind in popularity in the broader design marketplace.

That’s not been the case, however, in the beauty industry. Did you ever notice how may home accessories carry the scent of lavender? There are lavender body baths, gels and soaps. There are lavender wands tied with lavender ribbon to place in your linen drawers. There are lavender sachets and lavender pillows, and there are lavender-scented padded clothes hangers and, of course, lavender scented bath soaps.

Ah, the scent of lavender is all around the world! On a trip to France, I recently purchased round tablecloths in Provence, where lavender blossoms are abundant. At home, I even grow lavender plants around my rock walls, and when the flowery stalks are ready, we cut them and let them dry for an all-year room scent. Some people tie dried lavender flowers together and hang them from a beam in the family kitchen. Door wreaths have become popular, too, decorated with lavender.

I was reminded recently how much I like lavender and how much the world has changed since I was young, when my dad would take me to the barbershop — yes, the kind with the red and white pole outside — to have my hair cut. Today, barbershops exclusively for men have given way to the style salons, where men and women can enjoy a manicure and pedicure, as well as a coloring and a cut. The world has moved on, indeed it has.

So it should come as no surprise when I tell you that my barber, or stylist, is a woman named Mary Toledo. At Phenix Salon Suites on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, she does a super job of making me look as best she can. And her new salon is awash in the color lavender. I thought: How appropriate. I used to have the barber sprinkle lavender water from a white bottle on my cheeks after a haircut or shave. Today we get stylists with lavender walls.

Soft lavender is truly a neutral color, because it goes with just about every color. Lavender and red is dramatic; lavender and chocolate is relaxing; lavender and yellow is cheerful.

Lavender also is a big color for men’s shirts, especially in Palm Beach. I always think a lavender shirt worn with a blue blazer is a terrific combo. Just stop by Trillion or Maus & Hoffman on Worth Avenue to check it out for yourself. And just this month, my friend Roger Everingham, a style-setter himself and the keeper of the keys at The Colony, was sporting a lavender tweed jacket with a lavender shirt and a lavender tie.

When decorating, don’t forget about lavender. If you need more inspiration, visit Mary Toledo in her shop and see how soft lavender sets the style tone of her salon, with black leather upholstered chairs for pedicures and walnut furnishings.

You might consider presenting lavender to your friends, perhaps as a hostess gift, now that the holiday season has arrived with all those party invitations. A lovely box filled with small lavender-scented soaps would give any guest bath a welcome touch.

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