I grew up in a house with mainly white walls, including my bedroom, even though my brother was allowed to paint his. My parents threw me a bone and let me put up a wallpaper border, and finally I left for college (which had white dorm walls). For the first few years Steve and I were married we weren’t allowed to paint the walls in our rental. So I’m kind of against white walls (including off-white) because of 25 years of color oppression, and when I say color it’s not like I would have painted my walls lime green and eggplant (although I do like that combo). When we bought our first house the first thing I did (even before moving in) was to paint the entire first floor because the walls were white.
Side note: I think people keep things white because it’s easy and goes with everything. If you’ve watched even one episode of any home-staging or flipping show you will learn that non-white pale neutral paint can do wonders to make a space look more appealing without over-personalizing it.
We’ve been in this house for a year and a half and downstairs is an earthy mix of browns and olive (except for the powder room). But upstairs is still almost all white and I realize that I’m never going to paint it myself at this rate. The foyer is particularly challenging because certain walls are two stories high and we have neither the ladder nor the inclination to be up that high to cut in. This week I hired a guy from our church (Sean Kenny – website here) to do the work. For the foyer I liked a particular maize color (warm, rustic yellow) in a Pottery Barn pamphlet. I was shooting for a warm, gold color to coordinate with the adjacent olive and brown, but I also didn’t want it to be too dark so I went with a paler shade of the maize so it would be more like parchment. I had the swatches up for days to view in different lights, asking anyone who came to the house to give their opinion.But when Sean started cutting in it looked absolutely sunny, like it should have been paired with French blue in a country kitchen. The reality hit me that pale maize = buttery yellow and was definitely not the earthy, subtle look I was going for. I tried to live with it for about 10 minutes, but even with all the lights turned off it was absolutely glowing with cheer.Now I am “that customer”: picky, can’t make up her mind, doesn’t know what she wants, clock ticking. So together we picked out a new color (khaki, very safe) and over lunch Sean took the paint back and had it tinted some more. Bless his heart, and the little paint-tintin’ hearts at Sherwin Williams. I love the new color.