pulling out my hair. very pale beige, ideally SW?

walkin_yesindeedJuly 6, 2008

I have posted about this before, so apologies in advance for any redundancy.

I am looking for a pale/"champagne"/cafe-au-lait beige for my MBR, which is VERY dark. I have spent lord knows how much money on testers over the last few weeks, trying all the BM colors people on this forum have had success with: Macadamia, Bradstreet Beige, Kilim Beige, Softer Tan, you name it, I've tried it. (I don't have a local BM; Lowe's has been trying to match these, with mixed success, but that's another issue.)

In pics here, these colors look neutral and gentle. In my MBR, they are very dark, especially at night.

So I'm switching to SW colors, since we have a local store and I have had it with Lowe's (although I'll still take Lowe's-oriented suggestions if anyone has them). I have just tried a 75% mixture of SW Reliable Beige and Sand Dollar, both very mellow colors during the daytime. At night, in low light, they're really, really dark. Aggggh.

Should I just go up to the palest color on the strip and try again? (the SW folks told me that the 75% mixture lands me between the palest color and the second color on the strip.) Does anyone have any other color recommendations? Should I find a candlelight glaze to put over it? would that make the color nicer at night?

DH is arguing that we should just paint it white and be done with it, and I am close to agreeing with him. What do you think?

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I can see where Kilim Beige and Macademia were too dark - but Softer Tan didn't work? That's a pretty light color. It was too dark or too beige?
SW had a whole separate sheet of off-whites, some with definate "color". Some have yellow undertones, some have green undertones, some have grey undertones. These would be similar to the first color on a paint strip, i.e. the level above Softer Tan.
I might start with something on that sheet and if you don't really want something quite that light, darken by 25%.
Personally I didn't care for SW's making a whole qt of "non-paint" for a tester but what can you do? Do they still do that? I hope your doing this on foam boards?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:29AM
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I don't know what your walls are now but often it's just the contrast between your current walls and your tests. What you've tested may well be too dark for your taste, but honestly, until you get a sizable area painted and leave it for a few days, it's hard to know. RedinCA (is that her name here?) always paints an entire wall before making a decision - I've never gone that far but it's a good idea - hard to visually block out what's there if you only have a small splotch. I always paint at least a 2 x 2 square - right on the wall, 2 coats, and paint several in different places in the room. One has to be in a corner so it hits both walls, one has to be up at ceiling height, one has to be up against our trim so I see it with that.... you get the idea. Sometimes the testing goes on for a while and the room gets intersting to say the least! I'm not familiar with SW colors and don't have their paint deck so can't help you there. And don't forget, your window treatments, carpet, rug or floor, furniture, bedding - all those other 'colors' in the room bounce a color cast to your walls. And once all walls are painted, they bounce off each other as well. More often than not, what scares people on one section of one wall, they love when it covers all 4 and their furniture and art is back in place. It's a backdrop, not the main event.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 9:17AM
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I probably should have painted a whole wall as suggested, but a big splotch of SW Kilim Beige also came across as very dark in our bedroom. In reaction, we put up "Divine White," the next value up that same card. It turned out paler than we wanted (SW's Navaho White came out a medium-toned old gold on our walls, so I didn't take the white in the name that seriously), but it is a nice beige and certainly qualifies as very pale. It's not as gold as a champagne, though.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 9:39AM
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You could go two ways.

If you really are sure you want to go that light, SW Navaho White (top color on the Blonde strip) is a very nice, complex color. We have it on our ceilings and it is perfect in the rooms we have painted gold, yellow, green and Cavern Clay.

The other way to go is just to add more lighting to your room. I'm a big fan of darker colors and am a little disappointed we went lighter in a few of ours.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 10:59AM
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Macadamia and Softer Tan are SW colors. You tried them already? Have you tried BM Elephant Tusk? It's a tanned ivory color.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 12:00PM
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Why not pick up a can of the white base, untinted, and a bag of popsicle sticks and a package of paper cups and start mixing dilutions of the samples you already have? When you get a color you like, take the (dried, obviously) popsicle stick to the paint store and have them match the color that's on the stick. Make sure they show you a dried sample of the matched paint, don't rely on the color while it's still wet.

I do also agree with Parma that you probably also need to add more lighting for evening. Consider full-spectrum or color-corrected light bulbs such as Verilux, GE Reveal, Sylvania Daylight for less color alteration. (I'm also with her on the love of deeper color - but then I like denlike, cozy spaces anyway.)

Third, choose the color based on the time of day you're going to spend the most time in the room. If you and your DH both work full-time day shifts, there's not a lot of point in picking a color that looks its best when the room is at its brightest because that's not when you're going to see it, pick your color at the time of day when you're going to be there to enjoy it. If that means you're choosing the color at 9pm under artificial lighting because that's when you're most often in the room, so be it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 3:26PM
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Thanks, everyone, this is useful.

Marys1000, I'm not sure Lowe's was getting the colormatching correct. Softer Tan was dark, and so was Shaker Beige -- so I'm pretty sure they got it wrong, based on what I've seen here. But I am not confident of their ability to match a gallon any better than they did a tester, and there's no BM store nearby, so I am going to limit myself to SW and Lowe's/Behr colors from now on, given these bad colormatching experiences.

What do you mean by SW testers being non-paint? I just went and bought two of their huge "testers", and slapped a great big swath of each color up on my walls (DH hates it, but I keep telling him this is the only way to make it work). Is there another, better way to sample SW paint? Should I make the foamcore boards (not using the tester paint??), or do they sell them?

Deb, you're of course right, and so far we're just testing near our bed, in the darkest part of the room. We're also trying to find a decent backdrop for our bedding, and I think I'm making myself a bit cuckoo over how closely it has to match. (I don't want it to match exactly, because I don't want to be tied to that bedding pattern forever: I just want it to be a decent backdrop and not clash, because that would really bug me.)

Rosie, Parma, those are good suggestions, and the next time I'm in SW I'll grab some chips and stick them up on my walls to see how they do. Also about the lighting -- pretty clearly we need some more light in this room!

Mari, I agree about the mixing and matching. I have already tried this, not with much success, but I think that's the next step. I just hope it works. I am not very confident of or impressed by the color-matching attempts Lowe's did for me, which makes me wary about giving it another shot.

More comments/advice? I'm all ears!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:52PM
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My bedrooms are kilim beige. and the baths in those rooms have no windows and it is still a light neutral. Maybe you should try a bigger area. If your sample is on white it will look very dark next to that.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:54PM
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I painted my bedroom BM Alphano Beige. It looks lighter in real life than on the BM sample card. Just enough color, though, to be interesting, just neutral enough to go with everything.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 10:02PM
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How about using some of the samples you have that were too light and mix them with some that were next up, but too dark.

Yes you are mixing your own color, but like a paint chip you can just get it matched. Paint it on a piece of paper and bring in.

I ended up going this route in my bedroom as I couldn't find one with the right undertones.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:26AM
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walkin: Check out this thread. Scroll down to redroze's posts. She used BM Natural Linen in her bedroom, which I think is a lovely neutral--the same tone as Shaker Beige, but much, much lighter. I know you don't have BM near you, but maybe the color can be color-matched?

Here is a link that might be useful: Naturals Thread

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:49AM
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If you like the Ben Moore Natural Linen that OS suggested, SW will be able to match it from their computer. They keep all of the BM colors stored so you would just have to tell them the name.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 12:00PM
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The quarts or whatever size can that is, that are "samples" at SW are not real paint - i.e. they don't put the same solids in to make it real paint. So you can't use them as paint, you just have these big cans of....something. I gave mine away so I never thought to ask how you are supposed to dispose of them - so maybe its more ecologically friendly to do it this way. They aren't that much more in cost than BM's little sample pots so I guess its not that big a deal, I just found it annoying to have so many rather large cans of leftovers.
However I'm also not sure that they always read true color wise, at least not on foam board. I ended up with Macademia in my LR at the advice of my painter. I had ruled it out because the sample on foamboard did not look good to me. I loved it up (but realize its too dark for your situation)

As for putting samples on the wall - it just requires more prep for sure when you finally paint. You should lightly sand it all sample spots, prime the spots, then prime the whole wall. I had so many sample spots up that it started to look diseased so I went to foam boards. I always did 2 coats on the foam board. And I have the primer tinted to 75% of the color I'm going to use.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:11PM
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You wrote of some colors you thought were too dark, but did you like the tone of any of them? If there's a color that you thought was the right tonal range, how about having it mixed 50/50 or 25/75 with SW Extra White. That's often a technique decorators use when painting a ceiling - IOW they take the wall paint and mix it with white.

I agree that sometimes going up one color on a color strip doesn't always do the trick. Sometimes you want something in between two colors on a strip.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:14PM
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This might not be helpful because you want SW paint, but I like BM Natural Wicker and BM Everlasting. I just painted my upstairs hall, which is small and dark, with Everlasting. I love it.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:17PM
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I really like SW Maison Blanche. It might be a little dark for you, but its a great neutral color. It looks like a slightly different color in each room, so you might want to give it a try.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:35PM
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I wanted a very light cafe-au-lait for our master... had already picked out tile and carpet. We did SW Agreeable Gray - I love it. It's actually a brown based gray.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 9:02PM
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These are wonderful suggestions, thank you all! And DH is on a trip, so he won't be around to see me shell out yet more money on samples...

But speaking of samples, how do you all do this without despairing? I am not sure what to do! Lowe's got various BM colors wrong. SW doesn't use real paint, so the colors are potentially off. How can I figure out what the heck goes well on the wall when the samples I'm buying aren't right? How can I be sure that either SW or Lowe's could successfully match a color I come up with? (oh, and my local SW employees say they can't match BM colors... Lowe's is the only place nearby that can, and even they can't get them all, and as I said, can't get them right even when the pigmentation formula is in their #$&*(% computer...)

Does SW do a pearl finish or candlelight glaze? I'm wondering whether that might help lighten the final color, if I can find the right tone but can't get it quite light enough.

I am still feeling very much like "pulling out my hair" as in the post title. My wall is a patchwork of different wrong beiges. My room is full of makeshift furniture -- Craigslist finds awaiting reupholstering, thrift-shop pieces of different styles with different paint finishes -- and the previous owner's bright brass ceiling fan which doesn't match or even complement my black/wrought-iron curtain rods and deep-bronze hanging lamps. Etc etc. It all feels so mismatched and unharmonious. The idea of finding a simple paint color that can grant the room at least a bit of grace: somehow it feels beyond me! I just feel like I am barking up not one but several wrong trees at the same time. Should I just stop thinking about it and try to ignore the visual/aesthetic chaos for a while?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:26PM
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There's a BM dealer in Farmington, Albuquerque, Gallup and Santa Fe: Bond Paint Company. Are you in or near one of those towns? They sell BM paints.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bond Paint Company

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Thanks, Michelle. Our closest BM dealer is in El Paso, about an hour away, and given my total indecisiveness about all this (on top of finishing my book manuscript and all the other cr@p I need to get out of the way before I start teaching again) there's just no way I can add a 2-hour round trip commute for paint. (: But you are sweet to look into it for me.

BTW, I occasionally think about your student. What ever happened with her?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:40PM
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Order some samples from the Bond Paint website (in order of what I think you might like):

Pale Oak (my LR)
Natural Linen
Ancient Ivory (really pale)
Carrington Beige (a bit more color than Natural Linen)

Then, if you like one of them, you can just have a gallon sent to you. :)

Re the student: She straightened out her act. Made a "74" on the final exam. Go figure. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:50PM
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I think one of the advantages of building a new home (plus working a lot etc etc etc) is the lack of mental and physical energy to agonize over any one decision. I picked out so many paint colors - never tried even on sample on a wall before ordering the paint. We get many compliments on our home but most people comment on our choice of colors.

I love many of them but the SW Agreeable gray - chosen from the sample wheel was the best suprise. It is very very light. It's hard to describe but it just makes me happy. Every time I walk into that room I think - wow - this is a great color...

Here is a picture. It looks darker in this photo then it appears in person.

I think at some point you have to go on faith and remember it's just paint!!!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:58PM
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Here are a couple of pics of my LR. You can see the "Pale Oak" in the background behind the chairs:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Okay, here's the "Ancient Ivory" (in my kitchen). It has more of a yellow undertone, but it is NOT yellow. I've tried to catch it in different light for you. :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:20AM
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On another note: I don't know if you're still looking for microsuede fabric, but here is some ultrasuede fabric on sale: ultrasuede is the highest quality and is practically indestructible. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Ultrasuede Fabric

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 2:23AM
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More on Ultrasuede (see link). If you're interested, you should probably contact the fabric folks and verify that they are selling true Ultrasuede and not an imitation. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Ultrasuede Website

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 2:26AM
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Take a look at Believable Buff by SW. I have it in my hallways and foyer. I have been very happy with it and repaint all the time. I haven't repainted this yet! It is a great neutral. Kate

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:14PM
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Organic, Ponydoc, thank you so much. I've got a nice list of colors to look at now. Not sure how I'll get around the sampling/colormatching issue, but, as you say, it's just paint! I just want *something* up on the damn wall at this point. Ran across a real estate website in which a realtor/stager recommended SW Sand and/or Nomadic Desert for homes with oak trim, so I'm going to try those and see how it goes. And I love the Pale Oak and Agreeable Gray.

And OS, thanks -- I am kind of off ultrasuede b/c of what Mari (I think it's her, anyway) delicately refers to as the "butt issue" -- imprints when people get up. Back to looking at velvets or linen-based tweeds. I thought of you this week, actually: scored two 1970s small-scale Pennsylvania House wingback armchairs on Craigslist. I'm going to have to redo them, b/c the current color is a heinous pink-peach... anyway, my next post will surely be about upholstery fabrics!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:56PM
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I used BM Muslin OC-12, base 2B primer P-712, I put it in our master bath, I think it is a nice very light beige with no pink or yellow undertones and looks good with white trim. I would send a picture if I knew how, will try to have son come over to help.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 2:12PM
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Aaaak! I was wrong! Our hallway is SW Antique White. It's a nice, pale beige neutral.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:19PM
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walkin_yesindeed - I've used SW sample jars of paint - painted them on a piece of plywood, then purchased the real thing. I found the sample to be very close to the real thing, even if it's not real paint.

SW does a lot of different finishes. If you want a pearl finish, you'd probably like either satin or eggshell.

They also have a paint called Cashmere Low Luster which have a lovely, glowing, smooth finish. Doesn't smell at all when you're using it. It's good for a bedroom, den or area that's not going to get fingerprints, stains, etc. I just used it in my bedroom and am very pleased.

If you want really good scrubbability and also a nice finish, the SW Duration Matte is nice. Great for bathrooms. The matte finish is just a step shinier than flat, but not as shiny as satin or eggshell or the Cashmere Low Luster.

At the SW store, they have samples of the different sheens so you can compare them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 6:24PM
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I so appreciate everyone's comments. I went last week and got multiple chips of the same colors, taped them together (so my sample spot is a whopping 4" long instead of 1x1, but still, every little bit helps). Jagl, that Maison Blanche color is really lovely, and so is China Doll, which is quite close to it. But in the end I'm guessing we'll do Moderate White, which is a white with lots of tan in it. Marys1000, thanks for the tip about that brochure full of off-whites -- that's how I found the Moderate White. And I'm liking Sand for my kitchen and DR, so perhaps I'm close to making a decision. I think I'll live with it for a few days. Randita, thanks for the help with the finishes! I've heard good things about the Cashmere paint, but my boys (and husband!) are capable of marking up walls in places where you wouldn't think any marks would get, so I should probably go with eggshell for the bedroom. Much appreciated.

You guys are great. Thanks for the input and the pics. I'll post again when I finally make my mind up!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:26PM
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Ponydoc - your colors are beautiful! Will you PLEASE share them? I love the Agreeable Gray, but also love your pale yellow and bluish color in the adjoining rooms. We are painting our whole downstairs, and I'm having SUCH trouble with colors - I'm going for the Better Homes and Gardens "cottagey/neutral palatte." I was going to do Kilim Beige throughout, but after seeing your colors, I think it's too boring...I SO appreciate your time!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 9:52PM
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fraren, you may want to start a new post directed to Ponydoc as this question is likely to et overlooked.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 10:42PM
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It's a decortors and painter's favorite. I used it basically in my whole apartment before we moved and will be using a lot of it upstairs in the new house.
It does NOT turn yellow. It's the softest whitest cream with no weird undertones. If it's too dark for you (can't imagine it, but it depends on your lighting), you can have them cut it by a 1/4..

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 10:53PM
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Ponydoc- is there a little grey in that color? It's really nice.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 10:56PM
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