Toning down yellow paint :(

otis_proamateurAugust 4, 2008

We painted our entry BM Waterbury Cream this weekend and I am really disappointed. When I chose the color I was going off how the paint color looked in someone else's house and I didn't consider that her floor plan is huge and open where my entry walls are only 10 feet apart. The color just BOUNCES of each other and instead of being a soothing beige yellow it is INTENSE and mustard like.

Is there a color out there that I could possibly accent with to tone down the gold where it doesn't appear quite so glaring? If I could find a way to live with it (other than leaving the lights off 24/7) and NOT have to repaint that would be great.

Any other tips?

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Generally, if a color is only a little off, I just leave it as it is, but if it's so off that it means a lot of effort to get it right, I just bite the bullet & repaint. It's less trouble and it's more predictable than going with an easy-but-messy wash or a labor-intensive dry-brushing technique over the existing color, neither of which procedures are guaranteed to fix things, anyway. I figure if you're gonna spend the time & effort, you might as well just start over and do it right. That's my advice.

But in regard to your larger--and, unspoken--issue, here's an answer to a similar question that I posted to another forum just a few hours ago...


Well, since your husband isn't up to repainting your too-strongly-colored walls, this little tip won't help you much, but at least might help someone else.

I've never paid much attention to that 'one-chip-lighter-on-the paint strip' bit, but then, I'm a fan of dark colors, so if a color came out brighter or stronger on the walls than what I originally intended, I'd probably still like it, or I'd just learn to live with it, anyway. I figure life's hard enough already without obsessing over a bit of color.

I know a woman who's always repainting, and yet, despite all her hard work--and she's a total perfectionist--she's seldom satisfied with her results, either because the final color doesn't look like what she envisioned, or it doesn't look the same as it does at her friend's house--and, really, how could it? The chances of a single paint color (no matter how popular, or how beautiful) looking exactly the same in two different rooms or two different houses are about the same as the chances of a dress looking the same on two different women. Ain't gonna happen. The difference is that we KNOW it won't happen with the dresses, and yet we expect it to happen with paint. This does not compute.

Anyway, this poor, frustrated woman once sked me how I managed to get the color "perfect" every single time, and I told her the secret of happiness: realizing that success with color doesn't depend on what's in the can but on what's in the mind. Or, as I put it to her, "The secret of contentment is setting your standards really low."

And, of course, I was just making a joke, but it's true. If a color comes out darker than what I expected, I'm not in a big hurry to label it a 'failure'. Like they told us in sensitivity training back when I worked at Ma Bell, talk like that is hurtful: hurtful to the paint, yes, but also to yourself. Don't label, don't grade your efforts like that. Don't define yourself buy what you can't do.

So instead of beating myself up over a 'wrong' color choice, I look at a situation like that as an opportunity for letting go: letting go of the narrow idea that there is only one 'right' color for your room, more importantly, letting go of the will-o'-the-wisp of "perfection" in the first place. Face it: we live in a sad, imperfect world, and the endless quest for a non-existent perfection--the perfect gold paint, the perfect granite, the perfect c*a*n*d*i*d*a*t*e, whatever--is doomed from the start. Besides, in these green, environmentally responsible days, I like to go with whatever solution requires the expenditure of the least amount of energy, and in this case, that would be my living with the color just as it is & not repainting unnecessarily. I mean, are MY energy resources less important that what's under a frozen tundra somewhere? I think not. Anyway, I've backed away from the urge to 'fix' a paint color often, and I can tell you this: it gets easier with time.

BUT for those who are still merely thinking about painting--and for me, that phase can last for months--I can, at least, tell them to stop messing around with color boards that you have to haul around the room. The problem with a flat surface, no matter how big it is, is that you never get the cumulative effect that comes from color bouncing off & reflecting onto the adjacent walls, color that's getting stronger with every single bounce. That's how that subtle Wheaten Breeze that looked so ethereally lovely on the chip or on that sample board suddenly turns Screaming Mimi Yellow once it goes up on the wall.

So you need to take into account that ricochet factor before you pick a paint color. Here's a trick I learned in interior design school: paint a 6x10 sample of paint on a flat board, and then paint the inside of a Kleenex box the same dimensions. Compare & contrast. You'll be surprised.

You'll also never go back to flat color boards again.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Magnaverde, funny how very insightful and correct you are in your assumptions. I must say, you should look into motivational speaking. I am a perfectionist and very obsessive. I always feel that nothing I do EVER turns out the way I had invisioned it. In my need to always find fault and look for solutions to achieve that "perfect" look, I usually end up causing myself undue stress and irritating all those around me. My poor husband!

I recognize this about myself but I sometimes lose sight of the obvious. If I were to be honest with myself, I know that NO color would have ever turned out "perfect" in my mind and I could repaint it a dozen times and still never be happy with it. I am going to live with it and learn to love it. Thanks for the honesty, you may have saved us hundreds of dollars in paint, hours and hours of time and labor and maybe even marriage counseling.

And I very much intend to use the kleenex box from now on ;)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 12:47PM
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OP, I'm so happy if what I said helped. Decorating isn't nearly as hard as some people make it. Best wishes to you and your patient husband. M.

Magnaverde Rule No. 4O: Sometimes, the easiest thing to change is our attitude.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 1:33PM
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A gem from Magnaverde, as usual! I just love reading your posts. The words just flow together. You are a man of many talents!
that said, otis, I have been in your position too. We painted paneling in our FR what we thought was a pale brown with a little yellow mixed in. What it turned out to be was this bright yellow that bounced off the walls like crazy! I like it in daytime as the yellow is toned down. Changing the bulbs in our lamps from the CFLs to GE Reveal helped a lot with the night time situation. You might want to try that too!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 1:39PM
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I once had a client who flipped out - and I mean flipped out - because the paint color looked different from one wall to another as it changed planes in the corner of the room!!! She stood in that corner, looking at the paint and wanted me to fix it so that they looked the same. After that I began figuring in an unseen PITA factor to bids if I got a whiff of future problems!

Magnaverde, as usual you've combined decorating and life lessons in a most effective manner. We all want homes that feed us, nurture us and represent what we hope is the best us. But life is too short to obsess over perceived imperfection - as you said, repaint if it's truly distressing or move on and live with it. An unexpected color choice may open our eyes to beautiful things for our homes that we might otherwise look past.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 1:49PM
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Thanks again, MV, for your words of wisdom.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Do you have a piece of art or furniture that looks beautiful to you against these walls? You may love the way the color sets off a table or a vase. A lovely focal point may draw your attention and allow the paint color to fade into the background. Also consider changing the lighting - different light bulbs or a lamp that creates interesting lights and shadows. Play with the space!

With all that said, yellows are tricky. They can begin as a lovely glow then become a garish glare. I've repainted yellow walls myself after seeing how the color looked in the room - and been glad I did. If you live with the yellow for a few days and it still disturbs you, then you will probably be happier finding a new color for your entry. Look at the samples at different times of the day and night (always in the space you are using it) and be sure it pleases you in different lights. Also notice how it looks reflected against itself. If the color looks too intense when you bend the chip, then the one shade lighter trick comes into play. Sometimes repainting is the only way!


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:47PM
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What a timely thread!! Magnaverde, Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. You have no idea how much you helped me!! My DH and I are building our home ourselves and have been for about the last 5 years. We are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We put down the hardwood last weekend, and this weekend we are installing the cabinets. Well, yesterday DH painted the kitchen, hall, laundry, pantry and bathroom with Olympic Evening Glow while I was at work. I was thinking I was getting a soft yellow. It's not. It's much brighter than I expected and I am stressed out about it. the ceilings are 13' high on one of the kitchen walls and repaintint it will be a huge chore. After reading your words, I have decided I will live with it and learn to love it. It's not exactly the look I was envisioning, but it is a pretty color and I think I can chose kitchen accents that will look wonderful with it. I have always have boring off-whites in my house and this is the first time I have gotten brave enough to add color, so maybe it will just take some getting used to.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:26AM
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