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  • Writer's pictureHeather Rauh

The Path Less Traveled By

Updated: May 23

Treading an Unworn Path

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;" - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Two paths. The black one, or the traditional one. There are so many beautiful paint colors out there, and I WANT THEM.

But alas, this is one house, not many. So I must choose one paint path.

I will travel down the path of black paint. I can only see so far down this road when it then bends in the undergrowth of the unknown, but I will take it.

The journey has begun. It is a daring color. Stillllll not considered the norm.

I can feel the tension in the air when I mention in passing to a neighbor, "We are going to paint the house black!"

No one is rude. They are kind and polite. And yet the absence of "Oh! I bet that will look great!" is unmistakable.

Some still do encourage of course, but how can you really support going with black paint if you haven't seen many? You can't. And it is unfair of me to ask people to give what they cannot.

Everyone is waiting to see the end result before deciding to claim it as good or not. I'm confident they will love it!


Why I Find Choosing Paint Colors a Torturous Experience

The choosing. The big decision. The deciding moment.

I find this both fun and torturous.

So torture with a smile! Totally normal.

Fun because:

color is a pure delight to me. I love the saturation, the layers, the infinite combinations of different colors in different spaces.

It is one of the easiest ways to transform a space into something beautiful.

So much to love, and make you smile.

But TORTURE because:

friends I will be honest, I have chosen the WRONG paint color many times. I remember picking the interior paint for our first property -- it looked sooooo bad! Sigh.

I had invited a friend over and even bought snacks. I might have been a little excited. I had my color wheel out. I thought I was nailing a neutral off-white, but not grey color. Picked the paint color in an hour, told my painter, and we were off.

Turned out to be this mix between light grey and pale lavender, but with a strong blue-ish tinge to it. And it was on ALL the walls.

All of them. And the cabinets.

We were scraping together pennies, so I couldn't afford new paint or to pay someone to repaint it. So we were stuck with it. I hated living in that house because of the paint.

It was only 5 years later that it got repainted because the whole place was renovated after a bad tenant situation. So I guess I should thank the tenant since I'm now liberated from the blue/purple-poop paint color.


Doing It Different

So in an attempt to learn from that HUGE debacle, and others that followed, I needed a new approach.

Here are the main guidelines I use now in choosing a paint color. It is not perfect of course but it helps me mitigate the risk of another major muck-up.

1. I Take My Time

Part of the issue with the first situation (and others) is I'm in a hurry. I'm a gal with lots of responsibilities, and I have to keep things moving otherwise I will drown.

I find speedy action enormously helpful when, for example, doing the dishes for a 10 mins sprint before bed. But the sprint approach has bitten me in the butt hard when it comes to choosing paint colors.

Slow and accurate has served me better than fast and wrong when it comes to painting.

2. I Get Clear on What I Want First.

When I chose the interior paint color for our first property I wasn't sure if I wanted white or grey. So I ended up trying to choose something in between because I wasn't clear on my goals.

I often share with my real estate clients that clarity is power. Getting clarity

on what I want first has made the next steps and choices far easier.

Like a good millennial, I turned first to Pinterest to make sure that black was what we wanted.

It cemented the choice. We wanted black-black paint. Not off-black, not dark brown.


Furthermore, after looking at the photos my husband pointed out that what we wanted really was a black-out.

Black-out = Black...

  • walls,

  • window trim,

  • gutters,

  • roof trim,

  • soffits,

  • the backdoor,

  • the cinder block retaining walls,

  • and even the chimney.

That is a LOT of clarity. And a lot of black.

3. I Research

Pinterest was great for initial envisioning but did not deliver a color formula

That involved research on YouTube videos and in-depth articles.

Warm vs Cold

The Paint People educated me that black can be warm, cold, or neutral. And most insightfully, all paint looks different in harsh bright light than it does in the shade of a tree or the softer light of the evening.

The Paint People put together his video comparing 5 of the top paint colors. He covers the warm, cool, and neutral basics, plus points out that sunlight is a cool light, which further impacts how a paint color feels.

So whatever exterior paint you pick will lean cool because the light from the sun is cool. Subtle, but important.


And in this video, Tod with Tribble Painting Company compares two different sheens of Tricorn Black side by side. Flat and eggshell.

I found this sheen enormously helpful because the sample paint cans only come in one sheen -- satin. Which is not what gets used on the wall. So seeing a demonstration of how a low LRV (light reflective value) would look brighter in a higher sheen helped a lot too.

4. I Painted Samples on the Walls

The last big mistake I made before was thinking the sample chip in the color wheel was accurate. It is close for sure, but it is nothing, NOTHING, compared to putting paint on a wall.

If I had bought a sample and painted it on the walls of our old property I would have ditched it right away.

***Pro Tip: Miller Paints sample cans are 1/3 of the price of Sherwin Williams, and they have a color match for almost any color you could find at Sherwin or Home Depot, etc.

So if you like to try lots of different colors before choosing, then this is a great way to keep costs down.


Brass Tacks

So a dozen sample cans of black later and my walls marked up to high heaven!

In the end, it came down to these 4 blacks. Watch to see the winner!

***Share your opinion.***

We want to hear it! It helps everyone grow.

Which black would you have chosen?

  • Silent Sea

  • Tricorn

  • Black Magic

  • Caviar

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