Choosing The Right Paint for Your House Isn’t Easy

July 7, 2021

When you decide to paint your house, it’s hard to choose from the hundreds of paint colors out there. Even when you use a paint swatch book, it doesn’t give a real sense of how the color will look on the exterior of your house. The colors might look different because of shadows or reflected color off surrounding surfaces, and this isn’t something you can always predict.

In 1998, we decided to have our house painted. I chose a light Cape Code blue, a color that I had always wanted for our house. I blissfully left the house on the morning that the painters came. They were setting up their scaffolds, carrying tools to and from their truck to the house – getting ready to make my dreams come true.

Later that day, as I rounded the corner on my street, headed home, I literally stopped my car in the middle of the street and stared at my newly painted house. And not because it looked amazingly beautiful.

The painter painted the front of the house, then wisely stopped. He told me later he didn’t think that was the color I was going for. Uh -No.

So after having a few samples of other colors painted on the exterior, we selected a pretty brown. Not what I originally had in mind, but it looked very nice. I really learned a lesson though: It’s wise to actually paint samples on your house, your walls, your anything-you-want-painted, because color swatches can’t give you a true picture of the result.

Fast forward to 2021 – last week. New house, new painter, but the same issue – our house needed to be painted. The painter, my husband, and I collaborated on a paint color. We wanted it to match the Tuff Shed we have on the property, which is a light gray.

We labored over choosing the right color. We looked at swatch after swatch, holding them up to the Tuff Shed to color match, discarding those that were too blue, or too green, or too dark, or light. Finally, we were all absolutely sure we had the perfect match. But I remembered my last experience. I could still visualize that almost fluorescent blue on our previous house. I initially agreed that our choice was a “go,” but at the last minute backed out. “Get a small can and paint a sample on the house,” I asked. “I’m sure it’s the right color, but I want to be sure-sure.” It wasn’t a small request. The closest paint store is a 45-minute drive one way. So one trip to and fro to get the sample can, then another trip to and fro to actually purchase the required amount of paint. But I didn’t waver, even though I really wanted to save our painter the time and trouble.

When the “perfect” color match was painted on the house, it was blue. Not the gray-with-the-tiniest-blue-tint of the color swatch, but more blue-with-the-tiniest-gray-tint. And, this time, blue is NOT the color that I was going for. I was so glad that I insisted that a sample be painted on the house. I had learned my lesson well in 1998.

So after a few more samples were painted on the house, we settled on the perfect choice. And I’m happy with it.

Now I can move all of my “treasures” that you see in the yard here, back to a safe place out of the sun at the back of the house, until I can turn them into something useful and fun. (Do you see Stella sitting there, keeping an eye on them for me?)

Next, we’ll tackle the yard.

Do you have any painting horror stories? Please share. I would love to know I’m not alone!

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