picking paint is an art and a science

My first house that I bought was a tiny one and a half story that will turn 100 in 2 years time. It would have been my husband's nightmare. It was old, it creaked, it got water in the spring, the pipes froze in winter, the basement was in shambles, and the bedrooms had slanted ceilings that weren't meant for anyone over 5'4". It was my little dream home. It was so cute and quaint. And in the 700 or so square feet there were 7 colours. All different. All different shades, colour families, feelings, purposes, and I loved it. The entryway was a shocking warm yellow that made you smile upon walking in. I painted the dining room Cherry Cobbler red because I always wanted a red dining room. That has been my best colour choice this far in my life. It was the perfect red for a quaint dining room. There was a soft grey in the living room that felt cozy and calm with a black, white, and silver wallpaper as a feature wall. It was a bit chaotic now that I have time to think on it.

The next house I lived in was a flip that the hubster did with his brother. I moved in and helped to finish it by cooking and encouraging, and of course painting. Every single room was painted "renter's taupe", that's what the paint store called it. It wasn't white, which shows everything, but it was a paint that we could get in 5 gallon pails to cover the whole house twice for a good price and that looked nice enough.

From there we moved into a new build. It was beautiful but it wasn't a good fit for us. We never really felt like us in the house. It was mostly grey -- grey was the big colour at the time. We did the bathrooms in a deep green, and just because I could, I painted our bedroom a greyed out egg plant. It was a house that we knew we wouldn't be in for long and I had always wanted a purple room ever since I was little. It was a good choice for an east facing window in the spring and summer months. I remember the painter gave me the up-and-down-eyebrows when he saw the purple. I think we can all imagine what he was implying. I had read in some blog or magazine somewhere to paint your bathroom a colour that looks good on you. I applied this rule to the bedroom too, because why not?

When we were looking for a house after selling the new build our only requirement was that little work be done to it. The hubster is a perfectionist of sorts and I had learned to see potential and bones. Only because my husband can make it happen. The house we live in now had blue everywhere. Strangely enough, the only room that didn't have blue in it (kitchen) will be the room that I put blue into one day *when I can afford my dream kitchen*. There are three bedrooms, and they were all blue: two were a bright sky blue; one was navy; and just to mix it up, one room was half sky blue and half navy. I got rid of that room first. It hurt my head to look at it.

It also reminded me of my first house. I went so crazy with colour because I kept asking my dad for a purple bedroom when I was young and I would get this washed out-barely lilac colour that looked more blue than purple. So when I finally owned my own canvas it was time to hit it with pigmented colour! None of this washed out, is it blue, white, grey, or purple?? business. I wanted Red. Yellow. Unmistakable. Colour.

In my first house I learned that the wrong colour makes you go crazy. I had painted my entryway yellow, as I mentioned. And it was insanely bright. Yellow is a hard colour to get just right. It can be too sunny, too sickly, too soft, or way too bold. The first coat of yellow made anyone who entered my house yell in shock. The entryway screamed at people. It was not welcoming. It was an insane yellow. It took a few trips to the paint store to tone it down and warm it up to inviting mustard instead of I stained your walls and now I will stain your mind!

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

22-year-old-me would be so upset with today-me. I am deciding between which colour of off white to paint my living room and common areas. I've just grown to love what a good cream colour can do to my space. We have a lot of wood in our house, wood floors, wood trim, we even have a wood panelled wall (that will get painted over). The wooden trim keeps the cream from being clinical white, and white sends my brain into create mode. Cream just chills me out in the right way.

We have a really dark hallway, but a south facing living room, and I can't be bothered to figure out where to transition the colour so it's all getting the same treatment (All the designers reading this just gasped).

But what I learned from having tremendously coloured walls was that I couldn't have colour in my objects. I had to go calm with my accessories, and that's not at all who I am. I have an orange couch and a blue couch for goodness sake, how could I pick a colour that would match them both!?  This all points me to having a calm canvas to rest all of my fun and bright objects on top of, so they can sing. Your walls are back up singers. Not the star of the show. Unless you make them the star of the show with a great wall treatment or paper. So here I sit on an afternoon off picking a just-right-off-white; deliberating between (1) swiss coffee, (2) foggy skies, (3) cream delight, and (4) maritime white. Feel free to cast your vote in the comments.

That's all.


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