Feb 5, 2015

the renovation: the great paint debate

Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I don't have the best track record when it comes to picking out paint colors. When Riley was building our first house, right before we got married, I was in my senior year of college. I had my mind on other things like graduating and planning a wedding and I had no idea what my decorating style was and I certainly didn't have a Pinterest pin board to help guide me. We also had no furniture or belongings to decorate around, so our choices were pretty willy nilly. I do recall at one point Riley recommending that we just paint the whole house white, but to me that just sounded impossibly boring. So picture with me, if you will, a small house with a (bright) yellow kitchen, a (bright) green living room, a bold blue bedroom and a splash of token beige in the bathroom and office. The end result looked something like a cross between a Mexican restaurant and a kindergarten classroom. 

Over the next 5 years every room saw at least one color change. The kitchen got a shade of pale blue, the bathroom a more suitable shade of beige, the bedroom a more sophisticated shade of dark blue, the office a beautiful blush color that is still my best paint choice to date, and then… there was the living room. The living room became my arch nemesis of decorating. I lost count over the years, but I think it may have seen at least 3 paint jobs, and that's a conservative estimate. Long story short, I was always painting and was never satisfied.

I'm a little rusty when it comes to painting houses these days, although I do have to say I did an excellent job at choosing the colors for the sailboat's hull and stripe. And I think our time in the apartment this past year has helped me to appreciate the value of a neutral.

Fast forward to our current renovation and the decision making process for choosing a paint color. Now, this is our "grown up" house. It's not a "newlywed's color experiment gone wrong", it's not a boat or an apartment. It's a real life, grown up house and it's time to start making mature paint decisions and taking this neutral thing seriously. We have a whole lot of house to paint, and I don't intend on doing this again for a very long time. The goal is one color, in the "griege" family. Riley's preference is towards the gray spectrum, so my task is trying to figure out how to sneak a little of the "-iege" into something he'd still be able to live with.

500 paint swatches and 9 samples later, and still nothing felt quite right. The thing about neutrals is, they all look perfectly innocent on paper, and relatively the same at that, but get those babies up on a wall and all of a sudden one's blue, the other's pink and the rest fall somewhere in the green and yellow range.

We had a color on our short list, that neither one of us was particularly excited about, to be honest, when we went over to my parent's house and it suddenly hit me that the color in their kitchen was the exact color I wanted! Decision made, done deal, right? Almost. You see, first I had to find out what the color actually was. It sounds simple enough, of course. But Mom didn't remember the name, and there was no point in asking Dad because he would most likely just make something up. However, I was directed to their handy "decorating" file in the filing cabinet. As I sorted through the carefully organized system of paint swatches and cringed as I reminisced with the long forgotten Nefarious Rose of my teenaged bathroom and the ex Pine Green of the basement, it became clear that that perfect shade of light griege in the kitchen was nowhere to be found among them. The wild goose chase sent me to the garage next, to sort through an array of half full gallons and jars of paint. Finally, I came across a suspiciously pleasant looking paint remnant in a mason jar, labeled even (!!!), by the name of Tempered Gray.  But wouldn't you know, the thing was painted and frozen shut.  Three strong men, one can opener, and an hour later, and I finally had my perfect paint sample. A quick trip to Lowes confirmed that it was indeed Tempered Gray, and we bought our first gallon.

So, all of this to say, an infamous poor paint color picker has finally made her selection.  Cross your fingers for us, will you?


  1. That is great that your parent's actually kept track (for the most part) of the paint colors throughout their home! That would make it so much easier. That just might be something I need to do when we get our own house and can paint it whatever color we want :)

  2. I am keeping my fingers crossed. And wouldn't 'the wild goose chase' be a fun paint colour-name?

    1. That would be a fun color name! I always wondered how people came up with those.

  3. I have yet to paint a house but I know it'll be an adventure! :) Can't wait to see how the color comes out!!!

  4. Paint colors ARE hard. I picked some weird ones in our condo, too. The main living area (living, dining, kitchen) were all the same terrible dark beige with a green accent wall. The living room had dark green, the kitchen and dining room had a color called Celery.

    Things have been much better in this house, hahaha.

  5. I LOVE the color you chose!
    And I love your description of the Mexican Restaurant/Elementary school hybrid...it's really quite accurate.
    I think the Tempered Gray --and that LOVELY blush office---totally redeemed your choosing abilities :)

    1. Thank you! I'm pretty happy with it myself, thank goodness! :)


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