— Essentials —

It’s Paint Color Not Rocket Science

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Same colors, different light.
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I’m frustrated. It’s a wonder I’m not on the floor in the corner of a room somewhere, babbling to myself. You’d think I was looking for definitive proof as to the origins of the universe instead of the perfect neutral white paint color for the interior of my house. Cool neutrals, warm neutrals, those with a hint of brown, a touch grey or green, or a smattering of red or peach… How about a neutral color that looks good with travertine marble and doesn’t add 10 years to my face when I’m standing under a light fixture? Please… Tell me the truth… Am I asking too much?

I’ve about decided it would be easier to start each day with a martini. That way any paint color I choose would look wonderful.

After combing through Pinterest, Veranda and most anyone’s website who calls themselves a designer, I found a Wall Street Journal article by Aleksandra Crapanzano called, “Searching for the Perfect Parisian Cream Paint.” She writes:

“If given the choice between a glass of skim milk and a spoonful of crème fraîche, any Parisian worth her fleur de sel would choose the latter.”

Yes! That’s what I want! Not a stark white—I know white is fresh and modern—or a muddy shade of beige… Excuse me… Putty. I want a rich, creamy white that looks decadent and calorie-laden like it could have been mixed in the kitchen at Angelina’s in Paris. Remember Angelina’s, Essie?

You know what I really want? I want my things retrieved from their 10-year sabbatical in storage. I want my mother’s chair and a similar chair of my grandmother’s covered in something smashing.

Yesterday a girlfriend FaceTimed me while I was barefoot, in my bra and panties, painting color swatches on the wall. Not one of my good bras, mind you, but the athletic bra I wear to the gym. Wait a minute… I wonder if my gym bra is the color I’m looking for? It’s no longer new and white, white. What if I take it to my neighborhood paint store and see if they can match the color?

Love, Brenda


  • Diane McDonnell September 30, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    We have terra cotta accent walls in our house and Megan suggested a creamy white like you are describing. It was by Ralph Lauren. It was the perfect white. Good luck!

    • Brenda Coffee October 4, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Diane! Happy to see you here! Thanks for the suggestion. I know Ralph Lauren makes terrific paint. xoxox, Brenda

  • Diane McDonnell September 30, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    We have terra cotta accent walls in our house and Megan suggested a creamy white like you are describing. It was by Ralph Lauren. It was the perfect white. Good luck!

  • Esther Zimmer October 1, 2016 at 4:19 am

    Oh, Brenda! You gave me a giggle – LOVE the line about starting each day with a Martini – but you’re also right to pursue the exact shade you want to live with. Sorry it’s so frustrating though, what a shame we can’t discuss options over some more of those delicious desserts at Angelina’s – I’ll never forget that lovely first meal together! Much love, Essie xxxx

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Essie, Or we could end the day, like you and did, with a bottle of champagne at the George V! That was fun! Love, Brenda

  • Paula Kiger October 1, 2016 at 8:09 am

    SO FUNNY! It really is a mind and spirit boggling process!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Spirit boggling! I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re so right, Paula! xoxox, Brenda

  • Sherry Macdonald October 1, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Hi Brenda, I know what you mean, I change paint colors in at least one room every year. It takes me weeks to pick the right color. I think starting the day with a martini might make your butt bigger, might not be a good idea.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      LOL!!! All those calories! Thanks for talking some sense into me, Sherry!

  • Susan McCauley October 1, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I used Benjamin Moore’s “Kitten Whiskers” and am so happy with it … it works with any colors you have

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      I checked out “Kitten Whiskers,” Susan. It’s a pretty color. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Susan McCauley October 1, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I used Benjamin Moore’s “Kitten Whiskers” and am so happy with it … it works with any colors you have

  • Barbara October 1, 2016 at 11:07 am

    This cracked me up! I know the struggle and frustration, I do, but what makes it more difficult is how the colors change with the light. When you take that into consideration you have to be able to like it any time of day because it won’t look the same in all light. So, maybe choose the time of day you will be looking at it, most often, and go with that knowing it will change in candlelight or daylight. Was that any help at all?

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      Wish I could say a resounding yes. I have considered it. Think I’m too much of a perfectionist. I don’t want to view my wall colors as naughty children that only behave certain times of the day. LOL! xoxox, Brenda

  • Marjorie October 1, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Hi there,
    You might want to take a look at Maria Callum’s site for help with your paint choices. She is a local designer and international teacher who focuses on undertones. Her archives make for great viewing.
    Cheers, Marjorie

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Love this suggestion, Marjorie! Will do. Thanks!

  • Kathy October 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I used Vanilla Ice Cream, Ben Moore for that look and feel. It’s very soft and pretty in daylight and in the evening.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Love the name, “Vanilla Ice Cream!” I’ll check it out. I’ve always thought it would be fun to name nail polish and paint colors! Brenda

  • Marjorie October 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    It’s Maria Killam…

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Got it! Maria! Thanks!

  • b+ (Retire in Style Blog) October 1, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I love the “creme fraiche” too…which one was that on the wall again? 🙂

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      It’s on the walls in chi-chi Paris apartments… I have yet to find that color for real! The WSJ author didn’t share that “minor” detail with us.

  • Mithra Ballesteros October 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Oh the angst! It does drive one to drink and I feel your pain and raise you an olive. You could check out my Pinterest board titled “I Struggle with Paint”. But I have no advice other than to pay for the samples and live with calico walls until one color steals your heart. Good luck!

  • 1010ParkPlace October 3, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Mithra, “Raise you an olive.” LOL! Another friend called it my “paint collage,” as though it were an art piece in and of itself. Think I’ve found the color, and guess what? Except for the bathroom, it’s not a creamy neutral white!! It’s been one of the samples all along. A consultant for the McNay Museum suggested it, and it was the first one I put up, so I believe she’s right. Looks good with art and in different light. xoxo, Brenda

  • La Contessa October 3, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I donot do white SO no help here!

    • Brenda Coffee October 3, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      I don’t do white, either, and can’t imagine why I thought I could. Trying to be openminded I guess. I’ve wasted a lot of time when I should have been embracing color, as I always have. Brenda

  • Jen Lawrence October 4, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Love this! I did Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream at the old cottage where we wanted to showcase the view. Ballet white is a winner too. Or you could do F&B Brinjal and go with dark and moody eggplant. Just sayin’… xoxo (And martini idea: genius. As I type, I have contractors mulling over grout colour. I should pour them both a drink!)

    • 1010ParkPlace October 4, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      LOL! Not that I’m really laughing at your or your contractor’s dilemma, it’s just therapeutic to know I’m not the only one making these decisions. BTW, I think my favorite color choice is F&B, but when I tally up how much it will cost to prime and then paint all of my walls…. I’m going to need a part time job to pay for it… That or just keep the martinis coming until I forget about the price. xoxox, Brenda

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