Friday, June 6, 2014



For those who haven't thought much about paint, be aware that the look of a shade of paint can change wildly depending on lighting conditions, what other colors are nearby, or even the viewer's vantage point. Sometimes the differences can be a little hard to believe. Color chips can also vary quite a bit from real McCoy. Even pictures of rooms painted in a specific color can mislead because not all (or any?) photos capture the true color. Moral of the story: always paint samples and look at them at various times and in varying light conditions.

Getting ready to paint 17 sample cards.

What is more fun than choosing paint? Even though the majority of our house, inside and out, is going to be white, we have still been having fun choosing colors.

John is a huge fan of Darryl Carter and his choice of whites. But if it wasn't for the really helpful legwork that My Notting Hill did to figure out which Benjamin Moore colors correspond with their Darryl Carter collection, we would have been out of luck.

With few exceptions, all of our interior walls will be the same version of white and the trim will be a less matte version of the same white. In the past we used Benjamin Moore White Dove to very good effect. (In our last rental, to try and mix it up a bit, we also used BM's Balboa Mist, which was a lovely gray, but ultimately too cool for our tastes.) When we moved into our house in 2010 we covered up the many unpleasing colors with White Dove as soon as we could.

The big question now is, will we use White Dove again? Here are the Ben Moore choices we considered.

You can click on the picture to get a better look. We weren't considering all of these.
The Benjamin Moore Whites we thought about using included: Simply White, Cotton Balls, Mountain Peak White, Moonlight White, White Dove, Swiss Coffee, and Cloud Nine.
The picture above was taken in indirect, morning, natural light.

The same chips under direct incandescent light.

Before we decided which one to use for the interior. I got sample pots of each of them and painted 8.5" x 11" cards. Then we also painted samples on various walls at the house. Painting a bunch of different whites over another white is a boring task. No drama in it and sometimes the differences are so subtle it is hard to tell the difference. After all the sample locations had been painted, we each used little pieces of painting tape to mark the white we liked in each type of light. That exercise helped clarify which whites we were drawn to more than once and in more than one type of light. With the help of that process we decided on Moonlight White (OC-125/2143-60) which is Darryl Carter's Huntington White (DC-02). It is lighter and brighter than White Dove and Swiss Coffee but still has some of the warm creaminess of those two.

With our interior white chosen, we moved on to the exterior white and the color for the front door and shutters. The brick portions have a lime wash finish that will be re-applied and the existing and new clapboard and all other trim pieces will be painted white.

Existing front door in Farrow & Ball's Hague Blue. The door surround is in Wimborne White.
(Existing white on window and window panel are NOT in Wimborne White.)

About a year ago we decided to test out a color on the front door that we had had our eye on for some years. Since we knew the door was going to be replaced, I used my less than stellar painting skills to give Farrow & Ball's Hague Blue in glossy finish a test drive. At the same time, I painted the door surround F&B's Wimborne White. While we still like the Hague Blue, we didn't like it on the front door as much as we thought we would. It gets slightly teal-like in bright light and sun.

The Wimborne White on the other hand was a huge hit. So creamy and gorgeous, I wanted to paint the rest of the house in it. Since we don't plan to spend a boatload using F&B for the exterior white, we painted all six of our Benjamin Moore whites on the front door pilasters. We quickly settled on Swiss Coffee. Not only did it look nice, but it is also quite close to the Wimborne White.  That was easy. Front door and shutters were also easy. We are doing super high gloss Black from Fine Paints of Europe.

Fine Paints of Europe Black high gloss.
It looks like you could dive in and swim in these.
The only other variance from these white and black chosen for the exterior will be to add a little--I really hate to use this phrase--pop of color, for the mudroom door on the side of the house. The door will be two thirds glass and would look gorgeous in the Fine Paints of Europe Black, but we are drawn to something greenish.

Left to Right, all Farrow & Ball: Pigeon, Lichen, and Blue Gray.
Going to the Farrow & Ball showroom here in DC was really, really helpful in narrowing down the choices. In addition to Pigeon, Lichen, and Blue Gray, we were also thinking of French Gray and Vert de Terre. Looking at photos above I think I would eliminate Blue Gray, but as I said at the start of this post, pictures can be deceiving, so at some point we will paint samples of all three before making our decision.

Now, back inside to choose something other than white.

Our butler's pantry will be in a circulation area near the formal dining room and the family room and kitchen. Because it will be set in a niche, we have the opportunity to do something bolder without it being intrusive. In reality it will read more like a wet bar than a butler's pantry and we'd like it to be a little glamorous. The backsplash on three sides will be raised panels, and all will be finished in high gloss paint. It will have a dark, high gloss, wood counter, polished nickel faucet and a gorgeous hand chased nickel basin from Waterworks. We want to use a dark blue here, but the light level will be low so anything too dark will end up reading black.

What isn't easy to discern in this image is that the cabinets are set into a niche and will be surrounded by walls and trim in Benjamin Moore's Moonlight White.

On the left Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue. On the right, Hague Blue.
The cabinets will be in a rather dark spot with little to no natural light. My guess is that the tones at the top of the Stiffkey photo are more representative of lighting conditions. But again, this will need to be sampled on site.

Another bit of high drama cabinetry will be the double vanity in our Master Bath. We think we want to do some shade of black or dark gray.
Walls, medicine cabinets, and wainscot will all be in Benjamin Moore's Moonlight White. Floors, counter, and shower will all be in Carrera. All metal is polished nickel.

We decided on something in the black and gray family.

We've narrowed it down to these but have yet to sit down together and really hash out the choices. There is no way we are painting that many samples. I think if you click on the picture you should be able to read all the titles.

Lucy decided to help me sort.

It's been awhile since Lucy appeared on her own blog.

As we thought about colors for the library and the kitchen cabinets we were definitely drawn to warmer grays. After sifting through many paint chips, I ended up painting samples of ten different colors.

These are samples I painted myself, not chips. Shown here in natural, indirect light. In this picture they all look much grayer than they do right at this moment as I type this. So much different it is hard to believe they are the same colors.
All colors are Benjamin Moore. 1. Whitestone, 2. Sea Haze, 3. Cement Gray, 4. Rockport Gray, 5. Stonington Gray, 6. Revere Pewter, 7. Pale Oak, 8. Edgecombe Gray, 9. Gray Owl, and 10. Smoke Embers.

For the kitchen, we ended up narrowing more easily than I thought we would. Turns out we again chose (without looking at paint names) Smoke Embers which was our favorite several months ago when we painted them on our old kitchen cabinets. The new cabinets are limited to lower cabinets on two walls and one wall with lower cabinets and uppers that start right at counter level. The open shelves will be painted in the wall and trim color.

Samples painted on our old cabinets.
All Benjamin Moore: 1. Smoke Embers, 2. Rockport Gray, and 3. Revere Pewter.

Samples painted on our old cabinets.
All Benjamin Moore: 1. Smoke Embers, 2. Rockport Gray, and 3. Revere Pewter.

Benjamin Moore Smoke Embers for cabinets with Benjamin Moore Moonlight White for walls, trim, and open shelves. Carrera countertops and matte white tile for backsplash and wall behind shelves.

We had played around with some darker colors in our old library and weren't really happy with the result so we will have to be extra careful this time. We are still considering some of the Benjamin Moore grays shown above but we also spent quite a while at the Farrow & Ball showroom contemplating some of their colors for the library. Whatever we choose, it will be a monochrome room with all walls, trim, shelves, and cabinets in the same color.

Farrow  Ball colors left to right: Shaded White, Hardwick White, and Light Gray.
With all the stud walls still exposed, it is hard to imagine being able to paint. But I guess that will come soon enough.


  1. Thank you for sharing. This posting kind of reminds me of the process we went through in Elk River........NOT!

  2. Nice post.Although i didn't understand every bit of it.Now i realize that there are a lot of things to consider while choose to paint your home.I always call commercial painters to decorate my home though...:)