This Pie in the Sky is Clean And Dirty

When Irene and I were in Toronto for our last Specify Colour with Confidence ™ Training, we walked around the Kensington Market and came across this most adorable restaurant.

Clean vs. Dirty

Photo by Maria Killam

Love the clean colours, the blue outdoor carpet, and the coordinating green and blue chairs. This is a great example of why all commercial buildings should be colours and not muddy neutrals, especially dark murky neutrals because the clean lime green colour of this restaurant makes the taupe stone look dirty.

What do you think of the colour combination?

Related posts:

In Praise of (Latte) Pink Beige

Clean ALWAYS Trumps Dirty

Clean vs. Dirty Colours

If you would like to learn how to combine clean and dirty colours accurately, click here to become a True Colour Expert. 



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  1. I think that the restaurant facade is playful and inviting. I’d cut them some slack about clean vs. dirty. There are apartments above, and the color differential delineates the mixed use. The restaurant tenant probably did not have control of the upper facade. I find that the upper brick drops into the background. The lime green contributes to a vibrant streetscape.

  2. On my monitor it doesn’t look lime green at all but rather a nice soft green like early plants just popping out of the ground after winter. So the color combo of the natural brick and lime green look pretty nice to me.

    But honestly I couldn’t take that much color vibrance on ALL commercial buildings. To me it would be too much of a good thing. 😉

    I’m not sure I agree with your “all commercial buildings should be colours and not muddy neutrals” philosophy. Of course if all the commercial buildings on a block were colors, then one muddy neutral one would stand out in its own right, right? 😉

    The pie restaurant was clearly going for the “light-hearted,fun place to be” factor when they chose lime green/bright blue for their color scheme. I think the color of a commercial building depends on what product is being sold. Imagine this: A life insurance company in a vibrant orange building! Does that elicit the kind of response you really want in a product like that? I might expect the salesperson to come out dressed in a clown’s outfit. Hee hee!

    (Hey maybe that upper part of the building actually “is” dirty? 😉 )

  3. Hi Maria what a great example! Pie in the Sky is so fun and refreshing; and the upper building is a yuk!

    2013 Designers Series
    Art by Karena

  4. Adorable restaurant. Yes, it certainly highlights the “dirty” of the upper half. Hmm…on my monitor I spy several areas of the green that look more lime-ish, as if they had been touched up but don’t quite match. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Or perhaps did you photoshop something out?

  5. Ugh! You can tell the store owner does not own the building! This is such a perfect example of clean and dirty. Thanks!

  6. A white band of paint or some other “dividing” element between the two different colors would have helped.

  7. Great example of clean and dirty. I agree that muddy neutrals can fade into the background. Not a great choice for a business that you want to get noticed. The post with all the gray buildings says depressing to me. With so much concrete around, why go blah gray?

  8. The clean and dirty colors are very defined but in this case not it does not bother me. It defines the apartments from the store. I would eat at that restaurant. It looks cute, homey, and happy. The only thing that makes me stop and think is the patched up spots on the wall. But I like the combination of colors anyway and would shop there 🙂

    Thanks Maria for all you are teaching us !!

  9. I think they did a great job and accomplished their mission by making the ‘business and not the building’ a focal point with the use of paint. Painting the whole building front would create a distraction with the upper windows and the building probably wouldn’t fit cohesively into the surrounding neighborhood. By mixing the dirty with the clean colors makes the top floor disappear which is a good thing especially if it’s someone’s home.

  10. I agree with you, the pinky color just is too disjointed when combined with the bright clean lower half. It would look much better in a brighter neutral. White would look better.

  11. I wish Maria would do an article about combining ‘clean” and “dirty” colors in the same room. I’m stuck with “muddy neutral” furniture but I love the “clean” look. Not sure if it is even possible to combine them.

  12. Francine Luizzi-Bench

    I like the and do not mind the two neutrals. I personally have been struggling with clean vs. dirty in my family room kitchen area. I am dying for the geometric pillow with a less stark white background so it won’t fight with my BM adgio walls and neutral nutmeg sofa and chair.
    I wish I could send some pictures

  13. Great Example!!! I can’t imagine walking down the street and not going in for some Cinco De Pie-O! It looks so cute from the outside.

  14. It looks unfinished. I’d be driving by there everyday checking to see of they finally finished painting the top.

    In my town Home Depot was not allowed to use any orange on the outside of their building.

  15. I agree with others that it’s ok, would of been better if it went higher! I have a book of your’s & I can’t get an idea of what to paint my kitchen benchtop’s or countertops as some call it. So the colour of my kitchen cabinets are DULUX & the greens I’ve used are “lush housta” & “foille”, it;s been painted for 3mths now & I still after asking friends & paint shop advice, have not got a colour to paint, your help would be great. I live in Australia & I don’t have sherwin etc. HELP anyone

  16. I do not buy into your clean & dirty theory. The dirty section makes it possible for the clean section to look so great. Muddy neutrals outlawed?? That is crazy talk!

  17. After just coming back from your True Color Expert training, I absolutely see what you mean when it comes to mixing clean and dirty colors. It’s not about the pie, it’s not about the reason why only 3/4 of the building was painted. It’s about how beautiful and clean and fresh the blues and greens look and how you have to stop yourself from offering to power wash the rest of the building. If their aim was to stand out as a business in a building that was used for other purposes as well, they succeeded!