Paint decision colors columnist crazy

Paint decision colors columnist crazy

by Mary Ellen Collins

One setback hasn't dimmed the visions of color that dance in my head.

Before moving back into our old townhome, John and I agree that we need to paint it. When we bought the unit, we appreciated the upgraded granite countertops, cherry cabinets and tiled bathroom floors. But the developers chose to dress the pricier units in a wall color they called Deep Sunset Gold. I call it Muddy Mustard. We hate it.

After years of painting our walls white while collecting magazine pictures of purple bedrooms and admiring friends who know how to make a navy blue kitchen work, I'm ready for a colorful palette that suits my tastes. To my amazement, John says he's ready, too.

After deciding that one color for the whole downstairs will make the space feel larger, I know that serene sage green is my first choice. On a quick weekend trip to St. Petersburg, we head to the store and confront 1 million paint swatches.

Being a wordsmith, I have trouble concentrating on the hue rather than the name. "Sagey" should be exactly the right color. It isn't. We pick up a dozen swatches. John listens patiently while I analyze the differences among sagey-brown, sagey-blue and sagey-gray. After 40 minutes, I do what I always do when I have too much to choose from. I get a headache.

I want pale, soft sage, but John thinks if we're going to make the leap, we should go all the way. He opts for deep, rich sage. We compromise on a shade that's closer to my end of the color spectrum, and take a small sample back to the townhouse. John paints a test patch that looks like weak lime Kool-Aid. We think it might look better when it dries. It doesn't.

The next day, we buy a test batch of John's first choice. And we end up with a splotch of pea soup to accompany the Kool-Aid.

We're only in town for 10 more hours and we need to make a decision. I'm a perfectionist who doesn't perform well under pressure. I stare at the green-stained mustard walls, and sigh.

"I think we should do ivory," I say. John pats me on the back and says, "I think ivory will really brighten up the place."

Back to the store to ponder 9,000 shades of off-white. We choose Cotton Whisper and run back to the condo to slap a few strokes on the wall. It's light and bright, like sand on a perfect beach. We love it. We tell the painters to do the whole downstairs, the stairwell, and the upstairs hallway, but none of the rooms upstairs — yet.

One setback hasn't dimmed the visions of color that dance in my head. Once I have time to sample every shade on every swatch, I will have a sagey office ... and a Caribbean blue bedroom ... and maybe a lavender bathroom ... and then there's John's office, which would be great in dark green ...

"Honey? Which one do you like? Deep River? Irish Emerald? Piney Woods?"

Mary Ellen Collins is a freelance writer who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., with her husband, John. When she's not writing about things that drive her crazy, she reads, draws, and frets about coming up with ideas for this column.


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