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Chromatic angst

September 8, 2016

Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that I was admiring our blooming gardens and looking forward to a long stretch of approaching summer? Now, Labor Day weekend has come and gone, the roses are finishing their second bloom, hydrangeas are fading into autumn colors, and everything looks overblown and weedy. Why does summer pass so quickly, but winter drags its feet?

Black and white cat sitting under a pink rose bush

Checkers, roses, and crabgrass

Eric’s paid summer off has ended and he’s seeking employment again, figuring he might as well work as long as I still have to. He had such an ambitious to-do list back in June, when summer loomed long and full of promise: prep and paint the house, finish the basement reorg, clear out the storage units, clear out the attic, replace the backyard fence.

He soon learned what a laborious process it is to prep an old house for paint. It’s taken much, much, much longer than he anticipated, and he says he could work months more just on prep. But we don’t have months more. The paint must go on while we have good weather. By October, we’ll be heading into storm season and outdoor painting will be impossible.

After weeks of pressure-washing, scraping, stripping, filling, and sanding, the trim was ready for primer. I don’t know how to spell the sound that 103-year-old wood makes when it sucks up primer; you’ll have to use your imagination.

One day I came home from work and stepped out onto the front porch. The underside of the eave looked uncharacteristically bright and clean. “I may have to give it a second coat,” said Eric. “Of primer?” I asked, puzzled. “No—that’s the trim color,” he replied. WHAAAAT?? It looked—oh no!—white! Well, not stark white … more like cream white, and definitely NOT what I had envisioned. The Valspar “Oatlands Subtle Taupe” was too subtle.

Newly painted light taupe eave with exposed rafter tails

Is it white, or …?

But, by now we had already consumed a $170 five-gallon bucket of the stuff,  and I wasn’t about to ask Eric to repaint with another color. “I’ll learn to love it,” I declared. So far, I love it not, but it’s serviceable and it will stay. Before we committed to the color, I was vascillating. Should I go with something a little darker? My gut told me I should, but I decided to trust the test patch that I’d painted. So, Subtle Taupe it was. Damn—I should have listened to my gut. I am still trying to make peace with what I’m sure people will refer to as “white trim.” The fault is entirely mine … but it will be okay.

Weeks of weather too hot and breezy for painting followed, and Eric was limited as to what he could accomplish. Tick-tock, the summer clock counted down.

On another afternoon, Eric led me to our side porch paint testing lab and pointed to a patch of fresh olive green paint. It was the Mossy Aura from the five-gallon bucket … but it didn’t look like the sample I’d applied. It looked … kinda weak, more like split pea soup. No, no, this would never do! We were both disappointed. What, the paint crew at Lowe’s can’t mix the correct shade even with a computer??

Two shades of dusty olive green paint on siding.

You can see the problem.

We began to think that maybe we should go with Falcon’s Plume, the darker green, after all. I painted a test patch next to the Subtle Taupe trim. It would look beautiful, although the contrast between field and trim would be even greater than before—the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Still, the combination would be stunning. And after all, hadn’t we initially decided to go bravely dark?

Falcon's Plume

Original Falcon’s Plume test patch

So back to Lowe’s went the Mossy Aura. The guy in the paint lab agreed that something wasn’t right. That’s when Eric discovered that when you return five gallons of $170 mistint paint, not only do you get your money back, you get the replacement five gallons for $99! Woo-hoo!

The next day when I came home from work, I found this:

Dark olive green paint on house

Eric called this color “Boy Scout Pants”

Wow, that is … really dramatic! Keep in mind, you’re looking at a lot of competing colors here—not just our three new paint colors, but the current house colors and the colorful mums and chair pillows, too. Try to focus on the dark green, the taupe trim, and the dark red accent. Still … wow. It’s dramatic, yes … but, paradoxically, it makes the house disappear. The windows seem to float free. Well … okay, let’s do it!

Later that evening I blurted out, “I think it’s too dark.” Eric didn’t disagree. But could the paint mixer remix an accurate match of Mossy Aura? And if we need more than five gallons (which was likely), what would be the chances that we could get the same shade twice? It seemed that the perfectly matched Falcon’s Plume was the safer bet.

Lying in bed that night, I had a brilliant idea: The next day I would go back to Lowe’s, where surely our five gallons of Mossy Aura mistint would be on sale for a ridiculously low price. I’d buy the bucket, then we’d mix the Mossy Aura and the Falcon’s Plume and come up with the potentially perfect intermediate shade. Genius!

However, in the morning, the DIY gods punished my money-saving plan by killing our stove. I didn’t intend to go stove shopping that day, but the retail gods came to our rescue and put all the appliances at Lowe’s on sale. Score!

New Samsung range

Welcome to the family, Samsung!

We snuck into the paint department, hoping the staff wouldn’t recognize Eric as the original owner of the Mossy Aura. Of course, they didn’t care and they weren’t paying a lick of attention to us. We snatched up our own paint for $30! In other words, we now had ten gallons of paint, which would have cost $340, for $130! But wait, there’s more! At the check out stand the cashier presented us with a coupon for a $30 rebate, which we can use on the Falcon’s Plume paint. Make that ten gallons of paint for $100.

That is, if the two mixed together resulted in the perfect shade. I’m sure some folks are thinking, “Why don’t they just paint the house, already!” Yes, maybe we are a little bit obsessive about our paint colors. In fact, we are the Goldilocks of pickiness. At the other end of the spectrum is my friend Cathy, who wrote about me in her blog:

She made a potentially boring topic about picking paint colors quite interesting to someone who let the next door neighbor pick the paint color for her house (I said “surprise me” and went on a trip).

Wait—paint color  is potentially boring? Not endlessly fascinating? Our eyeballs are pretty calibrated when it comes to color. We want what we want.

Now, to test our custom blend. We carefully measured a 1:1 mixture of Mossy Aura and Falcon’s Plume, and applied a generous test patch to the wall. BINGO!! That’s our perfect color! We christened it “Falcon’s Aura.”

Custom mixed olive green house paint

Not too dark, not too light–just right!

Just light enough

Falcon’s Aura vs Boy Scout Pants

Every time I go out to look at it, I’m happy. Yes, I’m absolutely, positively certain. Did I mention we got ten gallons of paint for only $100?

Falcon's Aura on the side porch

Falcon’s Aura on the side porch

Falcon's Aura on the front porch

Falcon’s Aura on the front porch

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

 

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From → Exterior

10 Comments
  1. WOWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love your new Falcon’s Aura color! it’s just perfect! and what an amazing set of circumstances with how it came about [for so cheap!]. that’s so smart to sneak back in and buy your own paint back – i’m not familiar enough with paint stores i guess to even think of doing that! and your new stove is pretty snazzy too! and checkers is adorable. you need more cat pictures/posts!!!

    • Thanks, Alison! I am still tickled about getting such a good deal on the paint. I’ve since heard that people scam the stores that way, but at least our idea was honest! I will make an effort to include more critter pix. I agree, there can’t be too many! 🙂

  2. I love it! It’s such a great color and looks wonderful with the trim, which in my humble opinion is perfect. I wanted to thank you for the details you gave in that post prep supplies for the house. We are redoing our patio overhang and I forwarded your post to Mr. B. who bought the paint peel product. You can tell how much time I invest in actually knowing what the product is called!
    I only wish winter would “drag its feet” in exiting around my neck of the woods…sadly it is fleeting here and I am convinced I should move to a cooler climate!
    Have a great weekend.
    Karen

    • Karen, I’m glad my ramblings have proven useful to someone! 🙂 I hope your overhang project goes well. If only we could average out our winters: I could send you some cool gray days and you could send me some sunshine!

  3. You are brave. I would scared to mix the paint, but it looks great. We are hoping to paint this fall too. But we will pay someone to do it!

    • You are smart! A couple of years ago we were going to have the house painted by Eric’s daughter (who has been a professional house painter), but then she wasn’t available. Besides, we have to DIY ourselves to death.

  4. We painted last fall but didn’t quite finish up. Hmm. I totally get all your ruminations over paint. I’m a nut case about it and I would always custom mix it myself if I had to. Enjoy your new stove. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    • I’m glad you get it, Jo! When you posted about painting, I cringed when I saw Charlie on his ladder-scaffolding … but now Eric is up there in not-quite-safe positions and I understand. Glad they are both safe (so far).

  5. Barbara H. permalink

    Oh, the trials of finding the right color. Sounds like you know what you’re doing and what a deal on the 10 gallons! Helps relieve some of the new stove pain, though the new stove is quite a beauty.

    • Every time I look at the hybrid green, I love it. Whew! Seldom do we score such a deal!

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