Color My World, But Paint My House Beige

I’m entering Phase XVII of Moving into a House:  Picking paint colors.

Not my finest hour, by a long shot.  I know that in a recent blog I wrote that my least favorite thing to do is to get estimates for work to be done in the house. Now that the estimates are coming in, I’m not allowed to complain about my next task, choosing the color.

But do you know how hard that is? If you answer no, chances are you have a room with an ugly color and you just don’t know it. Do you know how many times I’ve failed at this and picked beige (pink) for my son’s room, beige (gold) for the kitchen and beige (purple) for the living room? These beiges are ridiculous. They’re just not happy being a mainstream, generic color and are always wanting to be something more colorful.

We have rooms that blend into one another, so we’re talking about painting most of the house the same color. And that would be beige. Specifically “a nice beige,” which is what I tell the paint helpers at the paint store.They point me in the direction of those little strips of card stock with colors on them. There is an entire rack of beige, but they can’t fool me. Sure, on the card they look beige. They even have names like Beigey McBeigeington, Seriously Beige, Definitely Not Yellow Beige, and Pick Me I’m Beige. But once they get onto your wall, they do a Matrix-like morph into a rainbow of possibilities, none of which are even in the beige family.

We tried for a beige in our kitchen once. We wanted to hurry up and get it done before our son’s high school graduation party, so we picked the color and my mother-in-law and I promptly went out shopping. We returned two hours later to find my husband on the second wall, painting a deep yellowish gold. 

“What!? Hey, what happened to the beige?”  I dropped my bags onto the drop cloth.  “This is it,” he said.  “No, this is gold. This is Versailles Ballroom, Gone-With-the-Wind Drawing Room, Elvis’ Dream House. This isn’t beige.”

He went back to the paint store two more times, coming back with beiges that were less gold and more pink, less pink and more green. It was the beginning of our mistrust of a color.

This was so much easier in the days when we were poor and afraid. Back then, we painted every room in our houses white because we were scared if we painted them a real color, when it came time to sell the house a potential buyer might be sickened by a pale yellow or a sage green and refuse to love our house.

“You guys are boring,” my friend Teri told me. She and her husband had a purple bedroom with one brown wall. We thought they may as well just go bungee jumping without a bungee cord.

Part of the problem is that paint companies are having a little bit too much fun naming the colors. I picture the naming staff sitting around a conference table sniffing a little too much Ashley Gray. How else do you come up with Sultan Spice (which is red), Party Surprise (which is turquoise) and Hop Grove (which is . . . beige . . . ish.)?

People who paint those microscopic little Civil War and Lord of the Rings figures use Warhammer Paints. Having a sense of humor and knowing their audience, they offer colors like Snot Green, Elf Flesh, Tentacle Pink. I think Benjamin Moore should do that. Ever walk into someone’s house and go, “Oh, no, this paint is . . . what is this?” You want to ask the name of the color, but you’re afraid it might be Cherry Kool-Ade Followed by Stomach Flu, or Poopy Diaper Preceded by Stomach Flu, or A Color That Could Bring On Stomach Flu. 

But at least you’d know what you were getting yourself into. Right now, brick red is never ever called Brick Red. Not one single shade of it. 

It’s time to call a spade an Ace of Spades, which is a Benjamin Moore paint color that’s in the blue family, but looks beige to me.