On Choosing the Right Paint Color: No More Color Conundrums
Editor Scott Omelianuk on paint colors
The editor, caught once again in color confusion.
"I thought torture by color ended when we finished inside the house," I said to my wife.
"Mm-hmm," she replied, leaving me unclear whether she meant, Yes, it had, and sorry 'bout the backslide, or Don't be stupid.
We were on the deck, staring at seven color swatches I'd painted on the masonry alongside the back door, all nearly the identical shade of soft green. We had just simultaneously said, "I like that one," and each pointed at a different hue. And so I knew I'd be going back to the hardware store for what turned out to be another four pint-size samples. We had to make a decision fast, and, well, we're just not great at that.
You see, we finally had the good fortune of meeting a decent local contractor, Walter. Unfortunately, he wasn't working for us. He was on the remodel next door, which in a rowhouse is more like next wall, since all the houses are attached. When you do an addition in our neighborhood, it's an extension, and it goes right on the property line, which is why he asked us if he could put a piece of scaffolding in our backyard for a week. In exchange for the inconvenience, Walter offered to power-wash and paint the old and, over the decades, badly repaired brick that covered the back of our house. We jumped at the chance and right into our typical bucket of pigment paralysis. Made me wish I were color-blind.
Samples eight through 11, the last I got, didn't really settle matters, until we noticed two of them paired together on one of those cards that paint stores display, showing rooms or facades done up in preselected palettes. My wife got a look like I imagine (and which she denies) she got upon first meeting me. "Perfect," she said, with a eureka smile, and it was true: The combination—the darker green on the bricks and the pale, pale, pale green on windowsills and lintels—looked terrific.
I don't know why we hadn't checked out those helpful paint-palette cards before. I mean, we do our own version of that kind of advice in TOH all the time but more so in this issue, our special Color Issue. You'll find such pairings in A Home With Well Balanced Colors and in 11 of Your Most Crazy-Making Paint-Color Questions Answered! and especially in No-Fail Colors for Living Spaces. I could have used that, seven and six and five and three years ago. Also last year. Would have saved me, well, seven years…