Monday, June 18, 2012

The one where I drone on about paint and light.

I have this orange and white damask-ish duvet cover in my bedroom that I just love.  The color is vibrant and happy, and the pattern is sophisticated without being overly stuffy.  It's fun and bright and pretty - just the sort of thing I would like.  The problem with it is that I'm having trouble decorating around it.  I've got all sorts of different room inspirations I've found pinned on my Pinterest decor boards with orange as a color.  I've saved photos of rooms I've found using this duvet in them.  Usually they're either kids rooms or decorated in shades of tan though and not really what I'd want for my own bedroom.

Last year I found a photo of a room that was done in aqua with yellow, orange and bright apple green accents.  It was LOVE.  The walls were aqua, so of course my first order of business was to go buy pale aqua paint and take care of that!  Unfortunately, this was before I got wise to the wonderful time and money saver that is a sample.  I ended up not with the gorgeous, calming aqua of my dreams, but rather, a sickly hospital greenish blue.  NOT PRETTY.

We lived with it for about a year, when finally I went on my nesting kick and decided that something simply had to be done about it.  Looking around Pinterest I came across this room, that really spoke to me.  It's colorful, yet calm and sophisticated.  I'm pretty sure the walls are white, but since I wanted some sort of contrast in there, I was thinking maybe a pale greige/taupe would be better.  

Now, I am not one for the gray paint trend.  It looks nice in other people's houses, don't get me wrong, but I'm just not a "gray" girl.  I feel like gray walls are the 2010's version of the 2000's cranberry/dark tan walls, or the 1990's hunter green walls, or the 1980's mauve walls.  It's gonna look really dated here soon! 

I'm also not one for warm earth tones, I'm discovering.  Again, I usually love them in other people's houses, but I can't get into the burgundy/tan/gold stuff.  I'm finding that I like cool colors on walls, and then warm colors in the accents.  So, even though I wanted a neutral, no way was I going with tan or cream. 

Well, when you want a neutral but you rule out tan, white, and gray, what's left?

I started thinking that a light greige would be the answer.  I wanted something that was light and airy, that would show contrast against white trim, and that when you looked at it, you would be unable to decide if it was gray or beige.  With this in mind, the first thing that came to my head was the lovely color my friend Dorie has in her house.  It's by Benjamin Moore and it's called Hush.

The problem was that Dorie's house has a LOT more sunlight than our tiny little bedroom does.  What looks like the perfect cool neutral in her lighting looked like a super chocolaty milk shake in mine.  It was SERIOUSLY dark.  Back to the drawing board!  This time we just wandered over to the Home Depot because it's about a mile away and I'm lazy like that.  Going from the paint chip I had of Hush, I picked out another color:

Behr Chocolate Froth.  It was too brown too, so I decided to go lighter.  Next sample up:

Behr Irish Mist.  It looks greige/taupe on the card, but on the lid of the sample, it looked WHITE.  I was panicking a little.  Brought it home, painted it on the wall and whaddaya know?  It's a pale TAN with PINK undertones.  WHAT?

Remember that flower pot I painted white for my bathroom and then distressed?  I painted it with the leftovers from this paint sample.  It read "white" everywhere except in our bedroom.  CRAP.  Here's one of the walls with my swatches:

From top to bottom, left to right, that's Chocolate Froth, Hush, and Irish Mist.  See how pink it is?  In frustration, I headed back to the Home Depot, and this time I asked for help.

Well, the guy in the paint department was stumped.  He kept looking at my gray paint chips and saying there was no way they should read as tan in ANY room with any lighting.  Since I was using daylight as my gauge, we couldn't really blame the light bulbs.  He asked if there was anything tan that could be casting light on the wall and changing the color, but the only thing really was the comforter.  Since I rarely make the bed (slacker) and the duvet was usually in a crumpled heap at the foot of the bed or on the floor, I doubted that was it.  The blinds in there are white, and the carpet is light tan.  The walls were that pale green, so that couldn't be it.

He decided to call over the interior designer they had on staff.  Let me tell you, this woman was AWFUL.  She stood there looking all unimpressed while he described to her the problem I was having and showed her the paint chips.  She touched one, like it was dirty, and just said "NO."  I was like, excuse me?  She said that there was no way that these paints were looking tan.  I assured her they did.  She simply replied no again, like I was a stupid little kid lying to her.

Look lady, I don't care how long you've been doing this, or that you used to work in Hollywood, but when you're in a position where you have to provide customer service, you shouldn't be rude!  She didn't listen to me, kept telling me NO over and over again, and never once tried to seem friendly.  She was like a crochety old grandma with no joy left in her life.  I was like, look lady, I'm not stupid.  I know how impossible this seems.  I told her she was welcome to come over and look at the wall.

Finally she told me that the green on the wall was the problem and I'd have to prime the whole wall and start from scratch.  You know, the green that was so pale it was almost white?  I may not be a professional interior designer, but I'm smart enough to know that A) green light cast on gray paint will NOT make tan and B) you don't have to prime a wall when the color is that light.

Homegirl was trying to brush me off.

Finally she said that if I wasn't going to listen to her she couldn't help  me and left. That's funny, because I was thinking that since she wasn't going to listen to me she wasn't going to be able to help.  I was glad when her sour old self left!  I think the paint guy could tell I was annoyed.  We talked about the samples some more, when he figured out the problem.

The thing that was casting the colored light and messing up my samples was...

My samples.  Specifically, the Hush.  Since it was so brown, and so close to the other samples, my eyes were taking that color in with the grays and changing them.  Made sense!  He suggested priming over JUST the areas where I had samples, and starting with the lightest one.    We got another sample while we were there, just in case, and went home to try it out.

I grabbed one called Snow Leopard that had NO red in it at all.  He also gave us one of those little folders labeled White and Bright in case we needed more ideas.  On the way home I fell in love with a color called Abalone Shell.

Turned out, he was right.  Once we got rid of the darker colors, the Irish Mist looked completely different.  The Snow Leopard, however was too blue, so I scratched that from the list.  Still, the Irish mist looked a little cream for me, so I decided one more sample wouldn't hurt.  I couldn't shake that Abalone Shell from my head!

I swear it looked less gray in the card!  I painted it on the wall and compared to the Irish Mist and Snow Leopard, it was absolutely perfect. It only took five samples, but by golly, I found my perfect paint color.  My husband headed back to the Home Depot AGAIN and bought the can of paint. He painted the wall that night.


And the next morning, it was painfully obvious that we had lovely blue gray walls.  AARRGGHHH!!!!  What happened?

Well, here is a photo of my bedroom:

Yes it is small, because we opted to have the master bedroom in our house be the kid's room.  Since we only sleep in there, it didn't make sense to us to give up that real estate when it could be better utilized by someone else, you know?  It's a tight squeeze right now since we moved the crib in there, but like I said, the only time we spend in there is asleep pretty much so it doesn't matter.

Anyway, you see that window?  Our house was built in 1997 and has all those cool 90's "architecture" details such as pot shelves, rounded corners on the walls, pickled peach colored cabinetry, and yes, arched windows. Can I tell you how impossible it is to cover arched windows so they look nice?  When we moved in there were pleated PAPER shades in these.  PAPER, y'all.  Who thought that was a good idea?  I'm sure they were original to the house too, because they were filthy.  Do you know how to clean paper?  I sure don't!  Dusting wasn't cutting it, so they were more of a gray/tan than true white.  Also, because they were old and paper they were tearing in places.  They were velcroed to the glass to hold them in place.  At one point, apparently, some previous renter decided to reinforce the velcro with BLUE BUBBLE GUM.  I kid you not.  There's a big wad of it up near the top of that arch.

So, we pulled the shade down to paint and made a new discovery - the discovery of what was casting the tan light on our gray paint - the filthy shade.  GROSS.  I decided to take the shade outside and see if I could maybe shake some of the dust off .  You guessed it - one of those old tears couldn't take it anymore and the whole thing split down the middle!  CRAP!  I tried to stick it back together but because the paper was so infused with dust, it wouldn't stick.  Lame.  Guess who needs to call her landlord now and fess up about this?

Well, now with the nasty shade gone, we have a new problem.  My lovely, perfect shade of greige paint is most definitely a gray blue color now.  That means that the color scheme I had picked out in my head has to go out the window because I am TIRED of paint and picking paint and moving furniture. It's just too close to my due date to be messing with it anymore. 

It's not a total loss - this sort of color is pretty trendy right now.  Lots of bloggers, including Jenna Sue, House of Smiths, and The Lettered Cottage have their homes done in these tones of tan, white and pale blues/grays so I should be able to find some sort of inspiration out there.  

I'm just bummed that I won't get the exact palette I loved after all this.  Boo.



Blogger Deb said...

Girl, I feel your pain.

I wanted an bright entry in our last house, and must have tried 326 shades of orange before I found the perfect one.

Anyway. I have a couple of suggestions: First, paint your ceiling bright white. Even if it's white now, see if re-painting it makes a difference, it may be dingy. Also, if you have any trim, paint that white. I've found that having crisp white on the ceilings and trim can make even very subtle colors show up nicely.

Second, see about painting big (like 2'x3') swatches, but not close together - maybe one large swatch per wall. I think the paint guy was right - competing colors can make everything look weird. In our first house, I painted a light green in one of the bedrooms, and as I was painting, the original tan color got uglier and uglier and pinker and pinker until it looked like pepto bismol. I couldn't get if covered fast enough.

good luck! and don't give up!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

It doesn't scream "blue" at me, I think it'd look great with some yellows!

And I LOVE LOVE LOVE your duvet cover.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

ARG! I found this post after googling "chocolate froth" because I have 4 samples on my wall and none of them look like what they card / name /guy at home depot says.

Lambs Ear turned out more orangy brown than greige.

Perfect grey doesn't look grey at all, it looks flesh toned. I have nothing that could be casting as my trim is white, my blinds are white wood, the bed is white. I'm stumped.

Some read so pinky when they're supposed to be grey / taupe / greige. lol..I totally feel your pain. And my friend doesn't see this at all, he thinks I'm crazy. I was beginning to doubt myself until I read your posting!

6:40 PM  

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