So you’d think that choosing paint colors for the new house would be, well, a piece of cake for me. I have done it for years and I have done it often. I do it for work. I do it for my houses, and I have certainly helped others. Not so! I agonize. I try colors on for size—mentally. I consider various palettes when I am in the bath tub or waiting for a delayed flight. I give it a lot of thought. Decisiveness comes and goes. After all-day dreaming, I sort of home in on what I am looking for. Then and only then do I venture to the paint deck or the paint store.
See above for the reason I have learned to go with an idea in mind! I love color and can see AND argue for just the choice of just about any color! It is difficult to settle on THE ONE. And this time I am exercising restraint! I am searching for the perfect warm yet expressive soft gray. So, supported by all the prior daydreaming and armed with my ever-present Bark Shingle, I quickly pass over the gorgeous array of colors on offer (each of which is valid in the right circumstance) and zero in on the, by comparison, boring gray/beige realm of the spectrum. Ho hum. Stay strong. Do not stray from the plan. . . .
I am looking for an exterior trim color and an interior color for the majority of the downstairs rooms. These are important choices to mavens of color such as me. It doesn’t promote world peace (I certainly wish it did), but it does, if done right, promote inner peace. The right color will make you happy every day. The wrong color will—ouch—be your cross to bear until you can repaint!
With this in mind, I select four colors to have them mix in a pint for $6.95 (a big bargain) and I pick up a few of the pre-mixed Benjamin Moore minis to try, as well.
Here are four of the colors that I decided to experiment with. I painted each onto a board and tried them up against the window and bark shingles. I stepped back. I closed in. I stepped farther back. I closed in again. I narrowed it down to two and finally to one: Stardust 2108-40! It’s the one on the lower left. I wanted to find something that bridged the gap between the dark bronze of the window trim and the variegated lighter tones of the bark shingles.
Now on to the interior . . .
Here I wanted a light warm gray. I tried two colors from a color chip, Lacey Pearl 2108-70, which was a bit too light, and the color next to it, Abalone 2108- 60, which was a touch too dark. I painted each on a big sheet of foam core and held them up. Then, once the walls were primed, I painted directly onto the wall. What looked gray on the foam core turned into Band-Aid beige when it was up on the wall. This was not what I was looking for! So, back to the paint store, again and again (this went on for a whole week), trying everything to kill the Band-Aid and get my color. I tried to counteract the red by going more green. It didn’t work.
Back to A. W. Baldwin & Co. in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Henry was a total trooper as we tinkered and mixed and matched the Benjamin Moore formulas until we settled on a formula of half Lacey Pearl, half Abalone with two extra squirts of gray to counteract that pesky red that kept showing up. It is the color you see to the right below. Note: I tried each of the colors on southern, northern, and western exposures of the house, and looked at them at various times of day to see how the color behaved in different lights.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite shade of gray?