• November 13, 2006

The Wrong Paint Color

Even with the best laid plans, sometimes the paint color just doesn't work

Restoration Diary,

Yep! After painting numerous test patches of paint on the walls, I still ended up with the wrong color.

The color is too light next to the golden dining room walls and woodwork.

My beautiful sage/silvery green has transformed into baby nursery mint green.

Even David, who has never met a color that he didn’t like, admitted,”Yeah. The color really doesn’t seem to be working. There is just something not right about it.” And that, my friends, means this color is just so very, very wrong.

Off to the paint store. Hallway color round #2.

Comments { 16 }
  1. Emily

    I think green is one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult) colors to paint a wall. It’s so easy for it suddenly to look minty, moldy or institutional. Or just plain ugly. This is not to say I haven’t seen some beautiful green walls. Just mostly that I haven’t. And I haven’t had much success myself. I started to paint my study green, but didn’t finish. It doesn’t really look bad. Just not good (ooh, ah, good). I’ve never had this problem with other colors. Even if they’re not exactly what I imagined, they’re still cool. But not green – it’s very hard to get green right.

  2. Aarlene

    We all know that’s just the primer coat, right?
    To get the best color you’ve really got to build some depth with more layers.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket!

    When y’all get the right color, it’s REALLY going to be the right color. Good luck

  3. Meagan

    Hi … I just thought I’d share my experience with gray-green.

    I looked, and looked for that perfect, not-too-minty and not-too-dark shade. After several test patches, I thought I had my match, until I went to buy the paint.

    In the light of the store, I could truly see the colors for what they were, and there, amongst all the other paint chips, I finally found it. I didn’t even do a test patch, and bought two gallons of the high-end stain-resistant stuff.

    The color is “Dusty Trail” from ACE Hardware’s paint line. I highly recommend it, because it looks lovely with our dark woodwork (it works well with the wood because it has a warm base tone). Our trim is quite similar to yours, actually.

    I think you might be please with it, too. It is darker than the green you have there, but I think you’ll get used to it (it took us a few days to adjust from the glare and contrast of the original renter’s white).

    Good luck!

  4. Laura

    Green-greys and blue-greys seem to be tough. They really change depending on the light source. In most paint stores, you’re looking at them under florescent lights which are very bluish, but at home, you mostly have incandescent lights, which put off a very yellow glow, and you need a color that goes handles that and daylight.

    I found that I had to use a large test patch on the wall and give it 2-3 coats, so I had the real color. And then I kept checking it. In the early morning light. In bright noon sunlight. In the evening, half-sun, half-lightbulb light. And in full dark with various combinations of our light fixtures. Very time consuming, yes, but so worth it when you find just the right shade! (In our case, it was a greyish blue that stayed blue without turning grey or green at night when we turned on the lights.)

    Also, don’t be afraid to go a little bit darker with color. As the post above said, it’s a little startling at first (esp. if you had white walls before), but the richer colors have a more warm and cozy (and less “baby nursery”) feeling. In our experience, darker shades with more coats seem to stay more “true.”

    Good luck!


  5. Mindy

    I have a suggestion about your green dilema. Check out your local pottery barn where they are giving customers a book of benjamin moore color swatches that are typical of a bungalow era home. I used a green in one of my bedrooms from that book of swatch colors. Check it out, you may like what you see.

  6. Anne

    We tested a few different color swatches on our living room walls before picking the right shade of green. We looked at them for several days in different lighting conditions before choosing. Just finished painting today and it looks great. Went a few shades darker than what looked good in the store – a nice sage shade, not minty, not too gray. Our place is a 1923 bungalow. Some of the trim is white (to be stripped at a later date), some is dark wood. I think yours could look great with a slightly darker shade.

  7. RPF

    Consider a warm color like the north bed room at the Peek house. It lighten up the area and was a very romantic color.

  8. Emily


    For what it’s worth, in my dining room I have woodwork very similar to yours and BM’s Powell Buff, which in my lighting comes out looking like your color (Shelburne Buff, right?). Anyhow, I just finished the kitchen a few days ago, which adjoins the dining room, and used a warm sagey color from Restoration Hardware (It was Sycamore Green or Sycamore Sage, definitely Sycamore something, not Silver Sage). It holds its own very nicely against the warm gold in the dining room and doesn’t look washed out or minty. Of course, your hallway lighting is probably different from my kitchen lighting and that can change everything. I should have pictures in a few days, but in the meantime, you might want to swing by Restoration Hardware and pick up a small sample can of the stuff ($5). You and I have pretty similar tastes and color preferences, so I’m guessing you’ll like this shade. Good luck.

  9. Catherine

    I know what you’re looking for and I can’t find it now either. It was a Behr color and compared to the other paint chips in the store it looked more silvery than green. My husband and I painted the living room in our old 1782(rental) house that color and it was great at setting off our collection of early to mid 20th century hand colored photographs, mostly of Maine landscapes. Huge help there I know.

    Another green that I’ve used twice now and love. . .is Behr Grasshopper Wing. It’s a good saturated olive-y green that I’ve used in my office at both places, oh right, the new one being our 1925 bungalow. I have a mission desk, chairs and nifty lamp from eBay, and we’re supposed to be working on built-in shelves. I want to use the Silver Studio’s Peacock Feather (also available as Liberty “Hera”) fabric for roman shades. . . there are just more pressing issues than curtains for my office at the moment.

    I’ve been lurking on your site since shortly after we moved in April and wanted to use this opportunity to tell you how apreciative I am that you share your story of your house and the process. Numerous loose parallels make you feel like a familiar friend. By day I’m a curator of an historic house museum (Federal era), and I have two Jack Russell terriers. . . I especially loved your living dog house. Puppy Winston is adorable!

    Best wishes!

  10. Martha


    Loving the upstairs restoration as much as I’ve loved watching the downstairs evolve!

    I’m writing in sympathy for your green dilemma. I painted my dining room a “beautiful sage/silvery green” that turned out to be so very “baby nursery mint green” that my eyeballs almost popped out. And that was my realization AFTER three coats. Ahem. Anyway, I went a bit more gold/olive and one shade darker, and it turned out to be exactly what I was after. My mom thinks I’m insane for reaching for that one particular color, but I think she’s insane for not reaching far enough to get it Exactly Right. …Takes all kinds, I guess!

    I echo everyone else’s sentiments–you’ll get it right, and hang in there!

  11. Carrie

    Hi Heather,

    This is not a post for the website, but a wonderful resource that I thought you may enjoy (if you have not seen it already). http://www.antiquehome.org. It is a little hard to use, but has information that researching bungalow fanatics like ourselves dream of. It has scanned floorplans from several catalogs (Sears, Aladdin, Sterling, Radford, etc), and the “millwork & houseparts” section has a scanned catalog for kitchen cabinets, doors, millwork, windows and other amazing built-ins! I am sure that you will enjoy it!

    Oh, it also has period color suggestions and such, which may help with your stairway dilemma :-)


  12. Denise

    Love your site, and I’m with you about your color concerns. It took me 6 different colors and 3 brands of paint before I got my dining room right, but the right color is just so right, and nothing else is.

    I ‘m working on a 1918 Cape Cod Colonial Revival. I put in soapstone and mahogany (big splurge) for the kitchen countertops. The soapstone is a gray green, and the wood is reddish, so the two colors compliment each other beautifully. I picked up the gray green on the walls with Behr’s “Rhino”. It looks great with the stone and the wood, especially when seen through the dining room, which is golden yellow. Everyone who comes into the kitchen loves the color, (and its name). We seem to have similar things going on color-wise, so you may want to check it out; it may work for you.

    Keep up your great work and please keep posting!

  13. peg

    We’ve started to renovate our craftsman as well, and I’ve found that Sherwin Williams has a beautiful line of authentic craftsman colors for indoor as well as outdoor. Best of luck to you! Peg

  14. Sue

    Benjamin Moore Historical Sherwood Green. You will love it!

  15. becoming-home

    Ha! This is the story of my life..

    I’m painting our master bedroom BM “silver sage” this weekend, I hope to avoid the fate of your halls :)

  16. Katie

    I have been trying to decide what color to paint my living room. It doesn’t get a ton of light and has only one window. It is a nice orangey color now, although I think I want something more retro, or different all together. I stumbled across this blog that helped me choose the right color. Thought I’d share it:


    I decided on Devine Color’s Le Pot D’Or.

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