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Friday, March 27, 2015

New House : Picking Paint Colors : Part One


And I haven't even moved yet.

This is part one because I haven't finalized anything or even put paint on the walls. This is just basically thinking out loud and I'm sorry you're being subjected to it.

We close on Monday (if all goes well) but we're actually getting the keys on Saturday. The current homeowners are kindly hosting a meet-and-greet with the neighbors so we can meet them and get introductions, so we're just getting the keys then. How nice is that?? Final walk-through is Sunday, then everything is done Monday. YIKES. It took forever to get to this point (I think we first saw the house in November?) but once it started moving, it really went fast.

(I LOVE the labeling system I made. I'll probably write an entire post just about these damn labels.)

Before we move in, we want to get the new floors in and get the living areas and the girls' rooms painted. So I'm doing all I can to narrow down the paint colors now in order to start painting immediately. The girls' rooms are easy - I'm duplicating their rooms here (SHUSH I LOVE THEM AND I'M TELLING MYSELF IT WILL MAKE THE TRANSITION EASIER). Most of the walls on the main floor are getting the same color, which will be broken up by the teal-ish kitchen in the middle, since we aren't touching the kitchen yet. And since such a big area will get the color, I'm totally stressing out about picking the perfect one. I originally wanted to go greige.

So I went to Home Depot (the closest home improvement store), Sherwin Williams, and Ace Hardware (the closest location that carried Benjamin Moore) and picked up like 50 paint chips of all of the grays, greiges, and kinda-gray colors I could find (it was surprising how many looked gray when I was grabbing them, but when I had them all laid out were clearly blue or brown or purple or green). I also looked on Pinterest for a list of the best neutrals and the best grays and the best greige paint colors and tried to make sure to grab chips from those as well (hence the special trips to SW and BM). Some of the most popular ones I continually saw listed and being recommended were BM Revere Pewter (does everyone have this in their house now? It's everywhere!), BM Edgecomb Gray, SW Perfect Greige, SW Repose Gray, SW Mindful Gray, SW Agreeable Gray, and SW Versatile Gray.  (To be honest, some of those are possibly supposed to be spelled grEy but I stopped double checking after the first one.)

The rejects

As soon as I got home, I sat in a patch of filtered sunlight (so there wouldn't be any white balance issues from light bulbs), got a big piece of white posterboard, and spread them all out. I then went through and sorted out all of those off-color ones (the blues and greens and browns and purples and ones that immediately stuck out as too light or too dark). Doing it on white is important, as the painted walls will have an effect the color of the chip. After doing that, I had a stack of about 25 left.  While I originally thought I wanted a greige - more taupe than gray - I was finding myself drawn to the chips that had less brown in them.  I decided I want the perfect soft, warm gray. But not too taupe or with too many undertones. But still warm feeling. Is that too much to ask? (Possibly yes.)

Those 25 I stuck to a piece of white foam core. This let me carry the sample board around to different areas of the house and look at the chips in various lighting situations. It was crazy how different a color looked just rotating the board 90 degrees to the adjacent wall! There were a few that I absolutely LOVED in one position, but as soon as I moved the board, they completely changed color from the soft gray that I wanted to, like, a dark brown. COLOR IS WEIRD GUYS.  I also looked at it throughout the day as the natural light changed. Doing this let me pretty quickly get rid of a few (like the three in the top right, which were too dark and too brown for my wants).

I kept all of my rejects handy in a bag and glanced through it a couple of times just to make sure I hadn't made any rash decisions. A few made it back to the board for reconsideration, but all came back down pretty quickly. Over the course of the next couple days, I narrowed it down to nine. 

Same chips, same time of day, three different walls

I then looked on Pinterest and Google Image Search for rooms decorated in those colors and made a Pinterest board for each color.  This was helpful because when I would first google/Pinterest search for images related to the color, not all the results actually featured the color at which I was looking. So by making a board, I was able to curate my results and view a page of images featuring just the color in question (I also clicked through to all the images to make sure that the source cited the color as being what the Pin said - there were a few that were captioned as being one color, but when I actually clicked through, the original source said a completely different color).  This helped me go from nine colors to the final five (you can view the boards here if you want: Requisite GrayMarch WindNightingaleSmoke EmbersEssential Gray). 

With the Pinterest boards, I was looking to see the variances in color and how the paint looked when an entire room was painted. Looking at image collections for each color let me knock out another four - when I looked at a number of images all together, I could see that I disliked the color on the majority of the images for a few of the colors (one was too light, one was too dark, one was greener than I wanted, and one was more brown). I wouldn't ONLY use Pinterest or Google in order to pick a color - your computer's screen might not be color calibrated, or the picture might have been taken with a flash, or it might be over or under exposed, etc. It's almost impossible to get a true idea of color based on what you see on your screen. However, looking at a collection of images definitely helps you see the color in a number of different lighting situations and with different colors of furniture and flooring, as well as on a larger scale. 

The Final Five
(1st row - SW Requisite Gray, BM March Wind. 2nd row - BM Nightingale, BM Smoke Embers. 
3rd Row - SW Essential Gray)

So I currently have five swatches on a piece of foam core that I'll be taking to the house on Saturday when we go for the meet-and-greet. Since SW samples only come in quart sizes for $6.99 each (SEVEN DOLLARS?!?!) I really don't want to buy more than one of those...expensive, plus I don't want to waste nearly an entire quart of paint for whatever colors I don't choose. The BM paint samples are on sale for $0.99 each from Ace until the end of the month, so I'll probably get a sample of both of the BM colors, even if they aren't in my final group. 

My next step will be to get the samples, then paint a piece of foam core or posterboard to make a mega-swatch and hang it up. I don't want to paint directly on the wall, because I don't want the sample to be tainted by the surrounding color. (I could avoid that by priming, but LAZY). Hopefully looking at the huge swatches will let me pick a fave. If I'm being honest, I think I couldn't go wrong with any of the final five, though. 

I cannot believe I just wrote an entire post about PAINT COLORS. 

What is my life even? 

I deeply apologize to any modicum of writing talent or smidge of interesting personality that used to  exist. I have failed you. 


  1. So funny! I think we have 10 different shades of brown/khaki and greige in our house. It's taken forever. We've lived here for 4 years and we just are about done painting. Thank goodness for our family blog or I can never remember what colors are in what room!

  2. OMG you are so talented to be able to tell those shades apart!
    The way I do it: ask the painter to pick, maybe just give them an idea of colour vs. white vs. greyish. That is it.
    I figure that the kids dirty hands go all over the paint job anyway and I will have to redo it when they get a bit bigger in any case.

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