Would someone please explain to me why it is so hard to pick out a paint color that looks good on your own walls? On HGTV, they constantly arrive with buckets of just the right Orange Peel, or Bird of Paradise, or Gingeroot paint, and no matter how awful it looks in the can, it always works perfectly. For weeks I’ve been carrying around paint samples, taping them to all four walls at different times of day; windows open, windows closed, lights on or off, high on the wall, lower down on the wall; next to the dark cabinets, next to the window. (Just FYI, I usually make decisions in seconds, but I wanted to get this one exactly, irrevocably right). I asked Darren and Ginsberg to weigh in. Ginsberg is an art major (we’re having her see a psychiatrist about it), so I trust her color sense more than my own. Through this whole thing, I had the word “beige” in my mind, but I knew if I ever said it out loud, HGTV would go off the air and my friend Joaquin with the newly refurbished house in Connecticut would quit talking to me. But you know that scene in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House? Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Myrna goes around with various color samples and explains to the contractor exactly which shades of paint he should have the painter use for each room:
Myrna: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong! Now, this is the paper we’re going to use in the hall. It’s flowered, but I don’t want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There’s some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room – in here – I want you to match this thread, and don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me…
Mr. PeDelford to Painter: You got that Charlie?
Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.
I should have hired Mr. PeDelford. I should have owned my secret longing for good old-fashioned beige. My walls are yellow. YELLOW. Well, it’s only the primer coat. Wish me luck backtracking.