Sunday, July 8, 2007
Butter Pecan and Cream
No, this is not about a recipe. These are colors I am thinking of painting our bedroom. (FYI, Cream is the yellowish one on the lower left, and Butter Pecan is the lighter one in the upper left corner.)
I have become submerged in house paint. I have entered the House of Color (also known as the Benjamin Moore store on 24th Street) and have not yet emerged. Now I understand all those long boring conversations I had with my friends when they were painting their houses. I can see how painting one's house could become an obsession. I feel pretty certain, though, that once I figure out which of the 42 off-whites Benjamin Moore offers is the right one for my living and dining rooms, I will be able to lay this particular obsession aside.
At least I've ruled out colors other than white. Maybe in another life, or another house, I will paint my dining room Cinco de Mayo red and dance to "La Cucaracha" on the table. But for this house, and this incarnation, it needs to be white, or possibly yellow. I've also ruled out the other paint companies, mostly because B-M offers nifty little 2-ounce paint samples to try out the colors at home. Based on the collection of samples I've amassed, however, I figure I've already invested more than $50 in them. (Why stop at Whisper Violet when I can have Northern Cascades, too?) That doesn't include the quarts I had to buy of the paint they don't offer in 2-ounce samples. I have thriftily returned several samples that I never opened, the ones I got home and wondered why I bought, such as Lighthouse. Perhaps with that one it was the literary association, since I kept thinking it was To The Lighthouse. The problem now is that I've made such a nuisance of myself at the House of Color going back and forth with my tiny samples that I'm sure I caught Jose rolling his eyes when I went in the doors the last time. I actually went to a different B-M store yesterday, just so I wouldn't feel inhibited while I perused the samples.
I don't recommend consulting the B-M website, a many-colored hall of mirrors that I became trapped in briefly. Want to go on "an exciting journey of self-discovery?" Try the Color Scheme interface! (Or don't--you can discover more about yourself riding the bus.) I found myself clicking on photos of rooms and coloring them in fascinating combinations, until I realized twenty minutes later that none of the colors really look like that because they are composed of pixels of light on a computer screen and not pigment.
We have somewhat of a deadline for choosing the colors, since Grigor the Bulgarian Painter (see Still Life With Lemons) is coming with his crew to start painting a week from tomorrow. When he came to give us our estimate, I had painted my samples onto 2-foot squares of foam core so I could move them around the house. He asked, "Why don't you just paint it right on the walls?" I didn't have an answer for that. The foam core seemed like a smart idea when I did it. You'd think since he also paints paintings (as in art) he would be eager to consult with his clients on color choices. But when we were trying to decide the color of the exterior of our house--which he ended up painting Hacienda Clay--he wisely refrained from expressing any preferences. A woman's house is her hacienda, right?
When I started with the samples for the interior, I was prepared for problems in the area of The Husband. When I explained to him my concept for our living room, a Sheraton Beige with some kind of ivory trim, he was skeptical, so I decided not to spring Wheatfield on him for the bedroom just yet. But when I painted Indian White (my second choice) and Linen White (his first choice) directly onto the walls, we saw that there wasn't a huge difference between them. It seemed like we could find something in the middle. But that's when it got tricky. When paint goes on a wall, it looks a lot different than on the color chip. The surface is different, the color of the surrounding paint is different (in our case, greyish, flaking plaster is the surrounding color). So holding different paint chips up to the painted patches only made me more confused. Was Capri Coast really that much different than Pompeii (I will go to either place right now--Benjamin Moore, take me away!). And which one was going to be lighter than Indian White but darker than Linen White? He dug in his heels on the Linen White, so I countered with Cream for the bedroom. We had a tentative deal, but the next obstacle was the color for the coved ceiling (typical 1920s California bungalow). We had to go lighter than Linen White for that: Decorator White? Atrium White? Super White? Before I knew it, he was on the B-M website and telling me I should check out Montgomery White and Concord Ivory.
I'm still not sure about the Linen White. My instinct is to go a little darker on the walls--say, Antique White or Navajo White--with Linen White for the ceiling. Looks like I have at least one more trip to the B-M store before next week.