As with anything that you do frequently, patterns emerge. Certain choices become comfortable, unrequired of a second thought. Such is the case for me when choosing colors for the web. There have been certain hex values that I'll gravitate toward: #eee, #ddd, #ccc, #999, in the grey family, for example. I know what each of these will accomplish for me and how they play with each other before a stylesheet is created. I'm sure you have your favorites and old standbys as well. I fall into using and reusing these values because they work like a trusty wrench.
But it's fun to cast those aside (at least temporarily), changing things by an extremely small measure. At times, it can mean all the difference in devising something fresh, new and different.
This happened while working on a recent project. Instead of combining my usual #eee, #ddd, and #ccc, I instead settled on combining #f5f5f5, #e5e5e5, and #d5d5d5. I know, this sounds completely trivial, doesn't it? I mean, the difference is so damn subtle, it's liable to go unnoticed by the average user, not to mention indistinguishable on varying screen types. And on top of that, they're all far from being web-safe hues. But all that aside, for me at that moment, the slightest change made all the difference in making this particular project stand on its own. A temporary step outside the familiar -- even if that step is purely the benefit of me, as the designer.
The main point here being: sometimes a tiny, subtle shift in the way you do things can be all it takes for things to seem new, exciting and right again (perhaps a micro-realignment?). This same philosophy can of course be applied to the non-web world. Just a few hours ago, Kerry and I were tossing around statements like, "we need a new house" or "we need to put on an addition". Later, we started hypothetically shifting furniture around in our minds, and suddenly there was this renewed excitement in making something old, new again. A tiny adjustment that (for the time being anyway) quenches an urge for broad, sweeping changes.
Next week? I'll be back to #eee. Maybe.