In Neutral

ceilings 0519
 Did I take any photos of our test stripes? No, I did not. So here are ceilings in our current house. The living room looks white until you see it next to the kitchen.

Another weekend, another fervor of paint. How can there be this many shades of non-color?

Lynn and I of course had more plans than weekend once again, and once again absolutely nothing got packed up or moved to our storage shed. Once again we spent hours and dollars getting little cans of paint and slapping them on walls. This time, however, we’re trying to find the neutral that will cover the bulk of our walls.

We started, however many weeks ago, with the notion that we wanted a white with a tiny tinge of gray. (At Pat’s we usually write “grey,” perhaps because the shirt brand we rely on often, Gildan, originates in Canada.)

We found a family of grays with space names (a promising omen, right?): Ganymede, Apollo, Moon Shadow (which makes us think less of space and more of Cat Stevens). On the little paint chip, Moon Shadow looks mostly white. Put it on a wall, however, and it has a distinct purple tinge. It has found a home as the neutral in one of the bedrooms, but as a whole-house color, no.

So we went back and stared at piles of paint chips that all look white in the Ace paint section. We tried Zen Pebble, and I so wanted that to work. I need to just learn to ignore the names, but wouldn’t it be fun to tell people your house is one big Zen Pebble? No matter how zen, it’s too dark for what we want, and it comes with a grayish-green cast that we can’t make work anywhere in the house.

We tried Illuminations (the company that brings us the Minions), which isn’t much different from primer white. It’s so hard to see, in fact, that while we were painting test strips on the wall, Lynn covered the Illumination strip. We didn’t think we wanted something quite that white, and when viewed on an angle, it has a yellowish cast that wasn’t speaking to me.

Dusty went to Ace and asked for a good white with a tint of gray and came back with Frost (David? Jack?). Once again, even though the paint chip looks fairly white, it seems rather gray on the wall.

So then we wondered if we shouldn’t look toward the “warm” neutrals rather than the “coolness” of gray, and yesterday went out armed with sample cans of Light Navajo White and Antique White.

“Light Navajo White” is just a long way of saying “beige.” As Lynn was applying Antique White she said, “I’m liking this one best,” but to me it looks like it should be called “Yellowing Linen.”

Once upon a time I gave no thought to neutral colors. Then I was going to have my bathroom painted, in one of the many fits and starts I went through before it finally ever got painted. The painter I hired started with the trim, which — like all the rest of the trim in our current house — is white (or various shades thereof). He asked if I wanted a white that skewed gray or leaned yellow, and I said gray.

By the time he got to the paint store, however, he had misremembered, and he painted all the trim with a yellowish cast. The job went on hold because I couldn’t get around to deciding on a wall color (if you can imagine such a scenario), and while I probably wouldn’t have paid attention had he not specifically asked, every time I looked at that trim it irritated me, because it was too yellowish.

(We currently have a yellow kitchen and are likely to have a yellow kitchen once more, and some of the walls at work are yellow — but those are all actual yellow, not yellow masquerading as white.)

So there Lynn and I stood yesterday, looking at various walls with five stripes of neutrals and not loving any of them. It was easy to rule out the Zen Pebble as just too ugly and the Apollo as too dark. Finally Light Navajo White, which is not white at all, went on the “no” list — it is a warm color, but too tan for us.

That got us to Frost and Illumination and a discussion of the High Hide White now covering all our ceilings. (Dusty counseled we use a “flat” finish for the ceiling, and Lynn likes the way they all look, but it’s rather dull and, well, flat to me.)

And that’s as far as we got. We think we’re supposed to have an action plan for Dusty and his crew for this morning, but we don’t. Sort of. There are real colors that have been nailed down that could perhaps keep them occupied for at least a day while we dither some more. I also decided that I’d like to try the Frost on three walls in the laundry room (Key Lime on the fourth, greener than any pie you’ve ever eaten — I think Martian Skin might have been a better name), which would also let us see if we want to go that gray in the rest of the house.

I haven’t told this to Lynn (you’re reading it here first!), but when I finally had my current bathroom painted last year, I went to Ace and asked for a basic white, and they gave me a gallon of “Chalk” (the remaining three-quarters of a gallon of which has already molded, sadly, because we could now put it to use). I think I might have them try that on three walls of my new bathroom, because it’s a dark, small space that doesn’t need to feel any more enclosed than it is.

That would then let us look at a fairly bright white and a more subdued, grayish white on full walls, which would hopefully inform a broader decision on the remainder of the house.

We keep reminding ourselves that our current house is largely white, and we don’t notice this much because of furniture and book cases and artwork. It doesn’t feel like this decision should be so hard, and of course, interior paint is not that difficult to change, so it’s not an irrevocable decision. But it would just be nice if we could look at one stripe of test paint and say, “That’s it!”

Because after we settle on our paint, we have to have the trim/door color decision. We did get one vote for the natural pine, but it looks just a tad raw and unfinished to us. Lynn pointed a stain color from among the samples Dusty left us that she liked, and I went past that to a darker stain, kind of like the bookshelf in the picture above.

Then there are floors and their color, and still a couple accent colors . . . it feels never-ending, and like we’re going nowhere, fast.


2 thoughts on “In Neutral

  1. Our walls are Navajo White (not Light). It is a yellow-based white. Pardon me for saying so, but I think it looks nice. Warm and Welcoming. Which, of course, we are.


  2. Picking colors is always hard. Despite hours of sample viewing & reviewing, and pondering some more, the end product has never resulted in what I thought I had picked out. Never, ever. The good news is I always liked the unintended results. Does that help? Good luck.


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