Conclusion: I Just Don’t Like Light Neutral Paint Colors (Except White!)

Let’s forget striped draperies, green fireplaces, black fireplaces, and everything else for a bit, and just talk about wall colors. You know how I say that I don’t like gray? Well, I think my issue might be with more than just gray. I think my issue is with all medium to light neutral paint colors, with the exception of bright whites.

When Matt and I moved into our condo in 2006, the walls in the whole place were painted a flat builder white. The place looked so lifeless, and I couldn’t wait to get paint on the walls. I searched and searched for the perfect neutral color to give the walls just a touch of color, but after bringing home sample after sample of various light neutral paint colors, I finally got so frustrated that I just chose one at random, painted the living room and kitchen, and lived with it for about two years before I really started working on the condo.

The color was awful, but I determined that the reason all of those neutral colors looked so terrible was because of the lack of natural light. After all, the entire condo only had four windows in it, and the two windows in the front of the condo (one in the breakfast room and one in the living room) were both underneath a second-story walkway, so the rooms always felt dark.

After a couple of years, when I finally did get serious about working on the condo, I remembered that frustration of trying to pick a neutral paint color, combined with the fact that the condo didn’t get much natural light, and decided on a soft buttery yellow for the walls. Yellow is the brightest of all of the colors, so I thought it would give the rooms some brightness. It did just that, and I absolutely loved the color on the walls — white trim (Behr Polar Bear) and light yellow walls (Behr Rich Cream).

Condo kitchen with light buttery yellow walls - Behr Rich Cream

Condo breakfast room with light buttery yellow walls - Behr Rich Cream

Well, fast forward seven years, and here I am working on my dining room and entryway in the house. And for about five months now, I’ve been looking for the perfect neutral paint color to go above the chair rail in those rooms. So far, I’ve got nothin’. The room that finally made me decide to do the picture frame moulding both below and above the chair rail in those rooms was this bedroom by Sarah Richardson.

Traditional bedroom with picture frame moulding walls painted white and gray, by Sarah Richardsonvia Sarah Richardson Design

But finding the perfect neutral to go above the chair rail in my rooms has felt like an impossible task. I’ve purchased about thirty samples so far, and considering that some of those have been the pricier Benjamin Moore samples, that means I’ve spent over $100 just on paint samples for my dining room in the last five months. I’ve tried some obscure Behr colors, but I’ve also tried some of the most popular neutral colors that are commonly used today.

Remember this sample board I did last October?

The two samples that I was considering — Behr Climate Change on the left, and Spun Wool on the right — just didn’t work out. The green one glows, and the other one has red undertones, so neither made the final cut.

That second color down on the right side is Agreeable Gray. That color is incredibly popular right now, and has been for at least a couple of years. I love how it looks in other people’s room.

Traditional Dining Room by Greenville Interior Designers & Decorators Stephanie Swander Interiors

Traditional Living Room by Dallas Architects & Building Designers Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, PLLC

Isn’t that pretty? It seems like it would be perfect! The problem is that Agreeable Gray has ever-so-slight lavender undertones in my room in the mid-morning light. I don’t know how, but it does. And I really dislike purple in any form.

I also tried the very popular Anew Gray.

Traditional Bedroom by Greenville Interior Designers & Decorators Linda McDougald Design | Postcard from Paris Home

That was too dark for my room.

Now I know some of you are thinking, “Kristi, you don’t like gray! Stop trying grays!” Right? But believe you me, I’ve tried just about every brown-toned neutral that Behr has, and I haven’t liked a single one of them. Here’s just a small sampling of what I’ve tried.

Behr’s Barely Brown, Jodhpur Tan and Race Track. Too light, purple undertones, purple undertones. No, no, and no.

neutral wall color options - Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter compared to Behr's Barely Brown, Jodhpur Tan and Race Track

Behr’s Castle Beige, Old Map, and Armadillo. Too drab, red/orange undertones, and red/orange undertones. No, no, and no. Plus, I live in Texas, and the way most of us Texans see armadillos is as roadkill on the street. Why in the world would I want something called Armadillo on my walls? (Seriously bad call on the naming there, Behr.)

neutral wall color options - Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter compared to Behr's Castle Beige, Old Map, and Armadillo I could seriously go on and on.

Behr Off White. Yellow green undertones, and not in a good way. No.

neutral wall color options - Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter compared to Behr's Off White

I have stacks and stacks of paint cards with nothing but brown toned neutrals, and I don’t like a single one of them.

So I went back to the drawing board (i.e., back to Pinterest) and just starting searching “most popular neutral wall color” and things like that. The color that came up over and over and over again was Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. It’s listed all over as a gray, but I decided to try it anyway. That’s actually what all of those paint samples are being held up against it the photos above.

Now for the record, let me say that Revere Pewter is absolutely BEAUTIFUL in other people’s rooms. I really love it.

Contemporary Dining Room by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators Michael Abrams Limited

I looked at probably over 100 pictures of rooms with Revere Pewter, and it’s a really beautiful color. So I tried it in my house. I painted it on a large sample board, and lived with it and moved it around the room over a two-day period. At first I really like it. Then it was just okay. Then I noticed that in the evenings, it turns really dark and brownish in my room.

So I had them mix a sample at half strength, and tried that. At first I loved it. I lived with it a couple of days, moved it around the room, and I still liked it quite a bit. I was fairly convinced that it was the color I was going to use.

Then yesterday, I put some of the Revere Pewter at 50% on a paint stick, along with the Derbyshire from my kitchen cabinets, and decided to head to the fabric stores to see if I could find a fabric for my dining room draperies. (As much as I love the black and white stripes, I’m open to other ideas if the stripes just won’t work.) As soon as I arrived at JoAnn’s and got out of my car with my paint stick and dining chair fabric sample, I glanced down at that paint stick and my immediate reaction was, “Ugh! That’s so drab! What am I thinking? That is going to suck the life right out of my room…and me.”

*Sigh* I’m so frustrated with this. How can I love these colors in other people’s rooms and houses so much, but really detest them in my own? And what is my issue with neutrals?! I can tell you…it’s all of the undertones. I see undertones very clearly, and it ruins just about every neutral paint color out there for me.

So I’m to the point where I’m just going to stop fighting my dislike of light neutrals. There’s something about the way my brain is wired that needs and desires color, so I think I’m just going to go with it. I had almost convinced myself to give Revere Pewter a try just to see how it looks en masse on my walls, but Benjamin Moore paint is kind of expensive, and painting that room around all of the picture frame moulding is going to take a long time. I tried the Behr version of Revere Pewter (from their color-matched formula that they have in their computer system) thinking I could at least save some money. Nope. Lavender undertones. It’s awful.

Which way am I leaning now for my dining room and entryway? Green. Very light green. The color that I think I’ve decided on is called Feng Shui. It’s a really light but bright green. I used Behr’s ColorSmart tool to “paint” one of their rooms with the colors that I’ll be using, and here’s how it turned out.

Behr Feng Shui paint color

The walls are Feng Shui, the trim and ceiling are Polar Bear, which is what I use on my trim and wainscoting. And I also tried it with a dark charcoal color on the fireplace so that I could see what it’ll look like if I decide to do my fireplace dark. I love it. This green also looks great with my kitchen cabinets AND with my coral buffet. (Not so much with my piano, so we’ll talk about that later. 🙂 )

Green is a life-giving color to me. It energizes me and refreshes me. So unless I can make myself fall in love with a light neutral color (which is highly doubtful) between now and a few days from now when I’m ready to start painting that room, then I’m going with white wainscoting and light green above the chair rail. I know that means that it’s back to the drawing boards for my choice of window treatments, but I’m okay with that. I just have to get these walls right.

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  1. Kristi, years and years ago I overheard an interior designer (it may have been Lynette Jennings while she was doing her Canadian show) say that any color could be YOUR neutral. Maybe green is that for you… the color that everything else goes with, the color that you can build your home around!

  2. Have you ever considered just painting your walls white? With all the other colors and patterns you’ll be using in the room, perhaps you are trying to make some color happen when you don’t need to? Just a thought 🙂 Then you don’t have to settle on a color you don’t love and you can keep the draperies as planed, which I especially like!

    1. I considered it for a long time, but the one and only reason that I don’t like all white walls is because my door and window casings don’t show up. They just blend right into the walls. And I think my door and window casings are pretty, so I’d love for them to show up.

          1. I agree with Erin and Carla. A creamy white with that bold black fireplace idea.
            Creamy White = Peace.

    2. I have been trying to find a neutral
      paint color for my kitchen, and yuck, I hate them all! The plan is eventually to paint my cabinets white on the top and a teal/green color in the bottom, so I need to paint the wall white, but it is so boring. Every room in my house is a color, and I love color! White seems so boring and gray is depressing. Everyone’s house is all gray! No thanks. I might just do bright white and forget it!

  3. Yikes! I’m sorry this is such a trial for you. I was looking forward to the black and white draperies but I know you will come up with something spectacular. I think the light green color will be awesome with the kitchen colors.

    1. Just found your blog and OMG it sounds like you and I are the same person. I have 14 rooms in my home and not one room is white or grey. I was looking for a neutral to go with all the Navy accents in my bedroom, yup they all turned pinkish, lavender, or just straight up muddy ugh. I have been toying with the idea of Contented by Sherwin Williams, yes I know it’s very green, not exactly the coastal look I was going for, but my room has a northern exposure with less natural light so maybe that will balance it out?

  4. http://www.mariakillam.com/. Her approach to colors opened my eyes. Paint colors have undertones. In summary, her approach is we have to pick a neutral with the right undertone to work. ie. Something that compliments the tones of floors, countertops – things you cannot afford to change or don’t want to change. I also use a favorite rug, textile as a place to start in rooms without tile, counters etc.

    1. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time here: http://www.kylieminteriors.ca/ She’s a color expert also, and talks a lot about undertones. My problem isn’t that I can’t see or understand undertones. My problem is that I can’t find a neutral paint color with undertones that I actually like and can live with. 🙂

      1. Since you are working on the dining room, then I’d suggest finalizing a rug that will go under the table and pick the neutral that compliments that. I’m confident that choice will support your plan to use stripped drapes and roman shades. Those 2 choices plus the location next to your kitchen.. the decision will be clear. Picking a favorite textile in the room works 99% of the time. IMO

  5. Since you liked it the first time, why not go with a light, creamy yellow again? I had one (Behr Eggshell Cream or something) in my first house as a place holder until I found my permanent color. Loved it SOOOO much, because it worked like a neutral, but was bright, fresh, and full of life. People regularly commented how much they loved it. For my new house, I decided I needed to have COLOR. I tried so. many. colors. I’m living with what I have for now, but it feels sort of dark and blah, so as soon as it is feasible, I think I’ll be hunting up more eggshell cream.

  6. You really are having a dilly of a time with the paint color. Maybe you should have gone on in the fabric store. I have found for me it is easier to get inspiration for paint from fabric and rugs. It can be almost impossible at times to find fabric or a rug to match a certain paint, but you can always have paint matched to the fabric or rug. I’m working on a pair of chairs that I intended to paint off white and use some fabric I already had. When I went to the fabric store for just the welting, I fell in love with some fabric I thought would work, got home and it looked horrible with the off white. So I tried some different finishes and found the perfect wash of light green to be my favorite. Point being, for me it’s easier to start with fabric. I like the light green you found, but wouldn’t proceed with it till I found something to go with it.

    1. Oh, I did go in! 🙂 I went to both JoAnn and Hancock Fabrics, and looked at every single decorator fabric they had in stock, and well as every single special order fabric. I spent about three hours looking at each and every fabric swatch that both places had. I didn’t really find anything, but I do have ideas. I already have my inspiration fabric, though. I took my dining chair fabric with me, and every choice for the room is being based on that fabric.

  7. I do not like the light neutral colors that people use in rooms these days. I don’t want a pillow as a pop of color, I want my walls to be the pop of color! I totally understand.

  8. It is hard to pick a paint color, neutral or not! Don’t talk yourself into something that just isn’t you; you wont be happy. I love green too. Just wondering how it goes with the coral/berry-colored buffet in the entry?

    1. I personally think it looks beautiful! That green is so light that it really reads as a neutral (well, to me, at least, but I love green so much that I think of it as a neutral 😀 ) But one of my main concerns was how it would look with the buffet, because I do NOT want to repaint it. I love that color. But the green looks great with it.

      1. I have always thought of green as a neutral. God put so many shades of green on yhis earth and every flower color goes with it. Dosent that make it nature’s neutral color? Lol

        1. My grandmother loved to mix blues and greens in her quilting projects, saying, “God touches the blue sky to the green earth and if He likes them together, so do I.”

  9. I think the bright white on your walls, striped drapes plus the other pops of colors you were planning on would be gorgeous. I love lots of color as well. After I painted the walls bright white in our den I can use all those beautiful, rich colors as accents. We love it! Your room speaks to me when I see the white walls, dark fireplace, and those striped drapes. It is so you! Who cares what others think. This is your home. I totally get your use of color and the dislike of neutrals and grays. I think the walls in a beautiful bright white, striped drapes, pops of color on your chairs, that luscious buffet and all the rest…. kitchen, music room, etc., will make for a STUNNING home!

  10. Kristi,
    I love your blog (just found it) and your style. The condo was amazing! I also love green and have to really force myself to try other colors but I keep green in my kitchen (SW recycled glass) and Keeping Room (SW Endame) and dining room also. I tried every gray and also hated the ones that actually look green in certain light. I settled on Sherwin William Lazy Gray and I love it in my family room. It is a dark room because of porches on both sides and I feel like this color brightens things up. I have now painted 2 other rooms this color and will be doing my daughter’s bathroom soon!

  11. I had the same problem as you and went through many pots of samples. Finally I went with Behr Wheat bread at 80% and love it.

    1. I went with Behr Wheat Bread too and I absolutely love it! I had tried SW Macadamia-hated it, was too yellow, BM Revere Pewter was too dark and BM Edgecomb Gray was really nice but had a greenish undertone. Used Edgecomb Gray in bedrooms and Behr Wheat Bread in all living areas.

  12. I just painted our bedroom gray (with a tiny hint of brown). It is called Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams. Since it was a bedroom I used flat paint and it looks like chalk paint. I love, love this color with white woodwork. Lowes is now carrying Sherwin Williams so I gave it a try. This was a one coat paint with primer added in. It is by far the best paint I have ever used (and I have used a LOT) thru the years. I don’t like anything about Behr paint. I have painted for family with it and I hate it. You have to paint up and down or it will show roller marks and it is way too shiny for me. I love everything you do so I know you will choose a beautiful color……Rebecca

    1. I, too, used Mindful Gray (SW) in my back hall and it really pops my white woodwork. I found it dark enough to be a “color”, yet neutral enough to accept any color as accents. However, it is too dark to use throughout the common areas of my house and am currently searching for another color I will love equally.

  13. I’m right on board with you when it comes to neutrals, especially greys! I LOVE grey walls, but finding the perfect grey for a space is so difficult as the undertones are so noticeable in different lights. Although the ones I am drawn to are the ones with purple undertones (probably because purple is my favorite color :P). I also find this with darker blues too – after many sample I’ve yet to find one for my home I like. I’m a warm/soft colors kind of girl. I don’t like dark wall colors, bright primary colors, or pastels. I do like the green you’ve chosen. While it wouldn’t work in my home, it is a wall color I’m drawn to :). Some may say I obsess over the colors of a wall, but they make such an impact on the room and just a few shades different can change the whole feel of a room!

  14. I had my living dining room gutted to the studs this summer and completely redone. I agonized over paint color and finally settled on a green called Ancient Marble by Sherwin Williams. I have to say I ADORE how this color looks on my walls. These rooms get a lot of light and this color just looks fantastic. I have had many compliments from people that have come in to work in my house (who have seen a lot of renovations!) tell me how much they love this color. I’ve googled this color on line but none of the rooms painted this color really look like the color that I have, I think it probably is because these rooms are so sun drenched. If you like green, this might be worth a look.

  15. It’s funny but I feel the exact same way. What first attracted me to your blog were the colors of your condo- my house is painted with the exact. same. colors. I had originally painted my bedrooms Seaspray and my living room Celery Sticks, both by Glidden. When I re-did my kitchen, I had full intentions of painting it a neutral tan or brown to tone down the colorfulness. I bought 5 or 6 tan/brown samples, and finally ended up with Soft Candlelight, a light buttercream yellow by Glidden.

    I LOVE the neutral decor I see online, but whenever I’m doing my own thing, I always lean toward color. Maybe the best we can do is to try our hardest to find neutralized versions of our favorite colors. Or just embrace the rainbow 🙂

  16. I haven’t gone quite that far yet, but fear it may be where I’m headed when it comes to picking a paint color for our cabinets. Our walls are a light blue (Valspar’s Seaside, which I love in our house), and we’re going with a bright white trim (including crown moulding on the cabinets I’m pretty sure), I’m thinking that I need a little bit of contrast, but also want the color to be pretty light. But I also don’t want it to contrast with the reddish undertones that we have in our flooring and will have after our cherry countertops go in. (The worst part about that is that I can’t use my colorblind husband for a second opinion since he’s hopeless with red/green undertones!) I’ve looked at what I feel like are dozens of different off-whites and light greys and can’t come up with a good solution – so far maybe Painter’s White by Behr, but I need to do some tests in all different lighting and see if it holds up against the undertones under our warm lighting. If anyone has any suggestions, I welcome them!

    1. I don’t have suggestions, but I had to laugh at your colorblind husband not being any help. Matt is partially colorblind, too! He can see fully saturated colors, but he can’t distinguish subtle shade differences. It seems like almost all medium to light tones colors just look white to him. And yet, I’m still constantly asking his opinion on colors. 😀 I talk about undertones, and he has no clue what I’m talking about.

      1. haha, yeah. My husband is fully red/green colorblind, so those colors all look like varying shades of beige/brown/grey to him. It came in really handy when convincing him to let me paint one of our bathrooms a light pink – he says sees it as a pale beige and forgets that it’s pink most of the time. But we pretty much can’t trust him to match or complement colors ever since if there’s anything but blue in it, he gets it wrong! (Even blue/greens or blue/purples he messes up!)

      2. They now make glasses for colorblind people. My son got a pair as a Christmas gift last year, and once he told me about them, I ordered some for one of my older boys. All three of my sons are color blind. There is a gene that carries colorblindness, receding hairlines, and missing permanent teeth. All three of my boys suffer from these things. A doctor researched it since his son, born the same day as my youngest had the same symptoms. The glasses come in many styles, and look like sunglasses. The are not cheap. Somewhere in the $300 to $400 range, but worth every penny to see someone who could not seen green actually see it for the first time.

      3. My husband is “tone blind” too! He never told me until this past year and I have been asking his opinion on verything from hair color to paint color. Gah! It’s kinda funny because he faked it and he isn’t too bad.

  17. Boy can I identify! But I’m not sure your striped draperies won’t go with the light green paint. It might just be beautiful. Another factor you can consider is what style you intend to decorate, because I think sometimes the design influences the color….e.g., can you keep the light green in a more modern/traditional, youthful style without moving toward something that is “older looking”? Afterall, you picked a dark charcoal fireplace. Could you find a more charcoal and white striped fabric for the draperies?

      1. Oh Kristi, I feel your pain.
        Is this a similar color to your bathroom color?

        With the warm tones of your wood floor, I like a coolish tone on the walls.

        I used to get SO worried about paint colors, too! I agonized over it.
        But my new philosophy is…your walls are just a backdrop. The color ALWAYS
        changes once you put in a chair, couch, rug or artwork! So now, I put less time in picking out the color and just “roll with it”.(pun intended). I also can paint a room in 2 hours, so it’s not as big of a deal😊haha. I LOVE PAINTING.

        1. I don’t think it’s deeper in color. It’s just a completely different green. That green has much more blue in it, which clashes with my kitchen cabinets. The green I chose is more of a yellow green, which complements my kitchen cabinets.

          1. I don’t understand you worrying about clashing with your kitchen. They are two different rooms. Didn’t you say you are going to put a door up anyway?

            1. No, I’m not putting up a door, and they’re right there next to each other and open to each other. I chose my dining chair fabric because the green matched my kitchen cabinets, and you can see my cabinets from the front door. It all needs to complement each other. I can’t have clashing greens in any of these front rooms.

      2. I think green as a neutral goes perfectly with the black and white striped window treatments and I LOVE that it will tie in so beautifully to the kitchen. Kind of gives it a nice overall cohesiveness.

  18. I just used sherwin Williams off the rocks. It’s gray with a very slight light blue undertone. I love it.

    Try a sample

    1. Mary did you mean to say On the Rocks? I searched both Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams sites and couldn’t find anything called Off the Rocks but there is one called On the Rocks. Thanks 🙂

  19. Hi Kristi, I remember Alexandra Stoddard stating in one of her books (maybe it was Open Your Eyes) that she did not like dirty colors on her walls. At least I think dirty is the word she used, or something like that. When I read that, I took it to mean brown in all of its saturations and shades and tones. For some of us, brown is not a neutral, it is just brown. Like when you are confronted with yards of brown stained trim and brown stained panelling and brown cabinets and brown carpet (in a home my husband and I just closed on – sigh.)

    The moment I saw Climate Change in your first photo, light green occurred to me. You did try Crisp Celery (one of my past colors) and it did not work for you. I can’t wait to see how the Feng Shui works for you. It looks pretty.

    1. “Dirty” is a good way to describe how it looks to me as well. And for me, it seems to be every shade of brown, beige, gray, taupe, and greige. They all look like varying shades of putty, stone, mud, or dirt that has been spread on my walls. If I’m going to pick a color from nature to bring into my home, it’s not going to be stone or dirt. It’s going to be leaves and grass, with a bit of sky and water thrown in. 🙂

      1. I’m so happy I’m going to have your blog to follow while we deal with this house. It will be years, not weeks or month, before we are done if ever!

      2. I find this interesting! I used Mindful Gray on a long wall with white wainscoting and woodwork. Rather than stone or dirt, it reminds me of the stormy Atlantic Ocean here in Connecticut. How much our life experiences shape our perspectives … even on color interpretation!

  20. Hi Kristi,
    I know you know this, but remember that the light you look at your sample colors in is what you will be seeing. When you fell in love with the Revere Pewter at 50% in your house, that is what it will look like when you put it on the wall. When you looked at it on a sample stick (different material than your wall boards) out in the direct sun in the great outdoors (different light than your living room) the color will naturally look different. You should at least try it on your walls, not necessarily all the way to the trim, but paint a space large enough between trims to give it a true chance in the room. Outdoor sunlight, on a stick is not a fair comparison for such a pretty color. I’m just sayin’ because you have tested so many in your room and Revere Pewter was something that truly caught your eye for any length of time. I am just as obsessive about color as you are.

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking. And I think it’s better to have my fabrics decided on first, then have a paint mixed that goes with it.

    2. Yep, I was thinking that too. Personally, sometimes I feel that the focus is too strong on each individual component without considering the effects of the entire room together. It’s nice that you could try it on the sample room but you will have the table, chairs, chair pads, rug, drapes and artwork all to consider. A nice neutral brings cohesion to the grouping. Picking neutrals is really hard, I can see undertones also. I recently found a nice off white for my hallway walls (I wanted to accent my white trim also). Sorry I don’t have the name of it here at work but it’s a Benjamin Moore and looks like melted vanilla ice cream. I really don’t have any opinion on the green you chose these are just my comments on neutrals in general.

    3. Yes, I did keep in mind that the color I see in my room wouldn’t be the color I saw in bright direct sunlight. The problem is that it’s one of those “once you see it, you can’t unsee it” kinds of things. When I looked at it again in my room this morning, all I could see was the dull, drab color that jumped out at me yesterday, especially when I held it up to the green I’m considering. (The Revere Pewter at 50% is right under the Derbyshire green on the paint stick.)


      The Revere Pewter at 50% also has slight lavender undertones. I’ve seen that from the beginning (just at 50% — I can’t see it in the full-strength Revere Pewter), but I thought I could deal with it. But the more I look at it, the more it bothers me.

      1. We have Revere Pewter in both an interior hallway with no direct light and our kitchen with windows and it is just beautiful in both places. It is a crisp, clean grey. I’ve never looked at it and felt that it looked dirty. It is also the only grey I’ve used which doesn’t read green or brown or lavendar. At all times and lights it just looks like the perfect grey. I really think you should paint it on a wall before you disregard it completely.

  21. Okay. First, I think the green works for you. You seem to love green, so, go for it! Also, I think the green would look great with Black/White striped window treatments!

    Secondly, white walls with white moulding…gorgeous. So, if you decide to go with plain white…I think it would look great!

    Third, my bedroom is painted Sherwin Williams Versatile Grey. It is a beautiful color! I am not a huge grey fan OR a brown fan. But, something about this color is like soothing velvet to me. (It might be too dark for you to consider for your room, though. But, I thought just in case you hadn’t seen that color, I’d mention it to you.) 🙂

    1. I too love green, and I also think it would look wonderful with black and white striped curtains! Other than maybe yellow or orange, I think black and white stripes would work with any color!

  22. Oh Kristi, I feel your pain.
    Is this a similar color to your bathroom color?

    With the warm tones of your wood floor, I like a coolish tone on the walls.

    I used to get SO worried about paint colors, too! I agonized over it.
    But my new philosophy is…your walls are just a backdrop. The color ALWAYS
    changes once you put in a chair, couch, rug or artwork! So now, I put less time in picking out the color and just “roll with it”.(pun intended). I also can paint a room in 2 hours, so it’s not as big of a deal😊haha. I LOVE PAINTING.

  23. That’s funny, as I was reading the first part of you post, I was thinking you need a very pale green that plays neutral. Then I got to the end. Too funny.

  24. Picking the right paint clour is sooooo hard for me too! I’ve repainted several rooms 3 different times, until I was finally happy. Even when you find a “neutral” that works in one room, often it looks horrible in another!
    That said, I always think green is one of nature’s neutrals, just look at any garden!

  25. One of the reasons I love your rooms so much is because of all the colors. If your house had the normal neutral walls with pillows and curtains as the pops of color, then it would be the same as many other decorating blogs that I got bored of. 🙂

  26. Paint colors! Why do we have such a problem with paint colors? I have 9 sample jars and a gallon of paint for my bedroom and STILL did not get the color I wanted. The one thing that stands out in your blog is your love of color. Follow your instincts – they have always served you well.

  27. I’m with Linda… I think the stripe curtains would still work with your green wall! And the photo you posted looks great! Coincidentally too, I mentioned in a comment that our fireplace wall was a dark charcoal like the colors you are considering for your mantel and surround… well one of the other walls is a light bright green! And we love it! This wall is not touching the charcoal, but I find the mix of the two with other bright white elements is really pleasing.

  28. i am surprised no one has said this it was because you were outside that it did not look good I bet if you take the green (or any) paint color outside you would not like it. any color on the paint card at the top (one or two on the card) are neutral colors. I like butter cream colors in my home.

    1. Oh, I do know that I was in direct sunlight, and it would look different in my home. But it’s one of those “once you see it, you can’t unsee it” kinds of things. I just looked at it again in my living room, and all I can see is the dull, drab color I saw on the paint stick at the fabric store yesterday. :-/ I can’t unsee it now.

      1. Kristi,
        Thank you for being so transparent with your paint struggles! It helps validate the rest of us who have been or are in the same boat! I think you are done. Listen to your spirit, pay attention to your energy when you consider the green. You said yourself you are not a neutral (in the gray, beige sense) paint person. I think the black and white striped fabric will look great with the green, really modernize it! BTW, I am not a green person, so I am not pitching green, I just hear you! Here is my recent personal experience: I just painted my whole (small) house in BM Decorators White-walls and ceiling in matt, trim in high gloss. It shows every flaw in the old wood work, and in my house with low light, it is blue and cold (and blue is my favorite color) !
        So many decorators consider it a perfect white-but in my house it isn’t! I should have listened to myself, paid attention to my body language, because I just stopped painting the woodwork when it was almost done..I had to force myself to finish the kitchen cabinets! I I should have stopped after I painted the first wall, first room because I wasn’t excited…and when I AM excited, I have tons of energy for a project! I should given myself permission to stop and find a color better suited for me. Give yourself permission to not use Revere Pewter and go with the green!

  29. Take a look at the Ralph Lauren color Parchment.

    I bought a gallon at the mis-matched counter and painted three walls in my entry. I liked it so much I had enough paint color matched at Dunn Edwards to do the rest of the house, except accent walls.

  30. Honestly, that green does not look any better than any other neutral. Just go with bright white and use you fabrics, furniture etc as your vibrant colors. You will have enough color with all your fabrics. The one you are putting on the chair is busy enough for a whole showroom, let alone a tiny dining room. Just go with bright white. I am sure you like you window trim, but I think this is more about “look what I did”. I thought you were painting your doors black? That will certainly show off the trim around them. You want your home to be a show place. This all the updated new looks. The green looks like you gave up. If you don’t want to use white then go with a dark color on top and white on the bottom. That is what you are doing in the music room.

  31. I found my all time go to neutral color. Whiskers by Porter Paints. It very pale off white but pops against my white trim and wainscoting.
    Oth r wise I say the same as the woman above. Green may be your go to nuetral. If you love it…go for it

  32. Dear Kristi,

    Look at Farrow & Ball; their paints are nuanced and subtle but amazing too.
    LaurelBernInteriors blog has transposed all the Farrow & Ball colors onto the Benjamin Moore Color chart on her blog. That might be possible because F&B are uber expensxpensive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I feel your pain. I love blue paint in other peoples homes. The same with grey. But not for me. The only blue I can handle is pretty much any paint with Periwinkle Blue which definitely has a purple undertone, but I love it.

    I painted my last house interior based on a pair of chairs done in floral linen. The background color was a taupe, and I ended up cutting it 50 percent and it turned out beautifully. And that was ten years ago. Maybe you should select your color from a color in your fabric!

    I do feel you pain, we all do. LOL Keep us posted!

    Pittsburgh Paints has a color called Almond Straw which I saw in a model home in Texas and loved! It is going to be my new Great Room Color.

  33. If you’re still struggling over colors, I would recommend looking at emilyaclark.com again. She has some colors I think you will like.

  34. There’s no rule that says you can’t do striped curtains with green paint. How many times have you said it’s YOUR house and you (and Matt) are the ones who are going to live with it? The curtains would probably pop even more against the green. You know you are never satisfied until you go with what really speaks to you and you love stripes AND green so why fight it?

  35. Kristi, please look at PPG Toasted Almond…no undertones, Sherwin Williams Livable Green….agree with you on light in the room..painted dining room 8 times, and foyer about as many and these colors work in and out of shadows. …so feel your frustration. .Lka

  36. Another idea, and I’m not sure as I’m thinking how it would turn out, but how about the opposite from the music room, black on the bottom and white on the top?

  37. I have a similar problem with taupes. I love taupes and that…dare I say it…”Pottery Barn Look” when I see it in catalogs and magazines. It always looks great in everyone else’s house, especially with the monochrome palate of everything else they choose for the room (which few people have, realistically). Then, I start looking at paint chips and I hem and haw and negotiate with my wife (who tends to like the opposite of me when you get as detailed as slightly different shades of the same color) and we settle on a color. I order-up a gallon, slap a coat on the walls and it’s either too gray or two tan. I hate tan. With a passion. The way you feel about “builder grade white,” is how I feel about tan–especially when it starts to have pink or peach undertones. Yuck. To my eyes, there’s a fine line between brown and tan (with odd undertones) and I can never seem to find that line. I like gray well enough, but when you’re after taupe, a taupe that looks completely gray once you have it on the wall isn’t right either. And grays, as you pointed out, can turn pink or purple.

    I think you’re right that lighting has a lot to do with it, also. Photos from magazines have controlled lighting, designed to make it look just right and if it doesn’t, they can Photoshop it. But in reality, the color on your walls is going to change throughout the day, no matter how many windows or what kind of lighting you have installed. So if you like a color in broad daylight, you may not love it while sitting down watching TV at night. Someone needs to invent color-correcting paint that responds to light like those glasses that convert to sunglasses when you go outside. 😉

    One thing I have found is that the color matching system at Home Depot can help with this. If you happen to have a fabric that’s going into the room or a photo from a magazine or a door from a piece of furniture, you can just bring it to Home Depot and have them color match it. It takes away the guessing work of, “Does this color go with this one?” When we painted my daughter’s room, we bought a zoo animal bedding set, but I knew I wanted neutral walls (mostly so I didn’t have to re-paint baby pastel colors when she grew out of it). I took the fabric down to Home Depot, which had a nice neutral beige background, and had them color match it. That way, the walls matched the fabric background (rather than clashing with it by being a half-shade off) and I was good to go. When she upgraded to her big girl bed, her bedding choice was a bright teal that had no problem going with the beige. Win-win.

    1. Hi Justin! I feel your pain, my husband is not colorblind like some other spouses on here, I’m starting to think that color blindness may help with marital harmony. In our first non-starter house, we had a two story living room and foyer (I refuse to say “great room”) and together we strove to choose a “warm ivory”. I bought a five gallon bucket of said ivory and he climbed a Little Giant ladder to paint it over the dirty grey from the builder (that was the 90s and the grey was because the first owner was the fan of a pro football team that has grey in it colors.) Well by the time he had a big swath painted, I could see that it looked like a peachy flesh tone. I kept my lip buttoned because he was 20′ up a ladder and we had spent over $100 on that bucket of paint. We managed to sell quickly anyway.

  38. I also tried Revere Pewter because I was looking for the perfect “neutral color”. At my place, it looked too blue… too cold, I only like warm color it seems…

  39. My first reaction to your green was ” too minty”. I’m not convinced it’s the one. But seeing it from a photo is way different than being in the room. I had my bedroom painted a lovely sage color (uh oh –gray undertones) and I love it to this day. Good Luck. I’m still in search of a kitchen color that will go with honey oak cabinets (talk about yellow undertones!)

  40. If your black and white drapes go well with your chairs (haven’t seen them in a long time so do not remember) I would keep them. I do not think your green is going to throw that off. Imagine your dining room outside. You would be surround be all shades of green. Then think about people who’s homes have beautiful black and white striped awnings and floral cushioned chairs on the porch. It all works together. Keep your drapes, although I am not sure of the dark fireplace.

  41. Each wall I plan on painting will have it’s own foam core color boards with eight or nine different colors so I can see the light on each wall at different times of the day for several days. That being said, when I found Behr’s Wheat Bread I knew that was the one for me. It’s a mystery to me why they named it that because it isn’t like any wheat bread I’ve ever seen. I painted the master bedroom, south facing with two windows with not a lot of light, first. It’s very calming and neutral. I loved it so much I had the master bath painted that color in my remodel. The master bath has an eastern exposure with one of those very large arched glass block windows, so there is a lot of natural light all day. The result was beautiful, bright, neutral and is a perfect match to my Belagio Light 12×24 tile. I love this color so much that I want the rest of the house painted with it. It’s probably considered a griege (beige/gray) and I would say that it’s a pale taupe, again depending on the room lighting. There’s enough contrast with my white baseboards and molding for it to be striking. We plan on selling this house in a couple years so I’m confident this will be a color someone else could come home to and not fee they immediately need to change. By the way, my contractor prefers Sherwin Williams paints and had them do a perfect match to Behr’s Wheat Bread.

  42. I came to a similar conclusion until…..i found farrow and ball. Expensive, yes! But sooo worth every penny for REAL pigments!!! I have a north facing living room/ dinning room with panels like your room and no neutral from the benjamin moore or behr lines looked good on the walls.

    With Farrow and Ball Elephants breath and limelight changed everything!!! In the summer the walls subtly change shades 3 times a day, in the winter up to 4 or 5 subtle different neutral, scrumptious, colors. Its breath taking amazing!!! Dont even get me started on how limelight reflects and looks during candle light dinners!!! Or the depth it gives to panel walls.

    Elephants breath is more deeper tone (what agreeable grey is trying to reproduce but cant bc of the lack of real pigments but is still a good budget friendly option) but really doesnt read gray, i use it as a color to anchor my room on the lower walls closest to the door, entry way wall. The other walls in the dinning section are in limelight.

    If i could afford it, id do the whole house in these two colors!!!

    Samples are pint size, and if you prime your wall (you totally should so all your walls are exactly the same blank slate that Farrow paint sits on and the pigments reflect) , one or two can do a room. Much cheaper than a gallon, but even if you need gallons you’ll NEVER regret it.

  43. I, too, am not a fan of gray or taupe (or green, sorry!) paint on the walls. I feel your paint pain! I do believe with your coral buffet, yellow piano, and green kitchen, your eye needs to rest. Bring in that Simply White!

  44. Every time I paint, I love the color on the chip, love the color in pictures and other people’s rooms, but hate the color as i sample it on my walls or as I’m cutting in. The undertones are so noticeable when the room is not finished. For example, my bedroom is a steely blue gray. It looked purple as it was being cut in and I was adamant that I hated it and wasted my money. When the while room was complete and dry, I absolutely loved it. Since you’re starting with white, I say try one full wall with the color before you nix the neutrals.

  45. I love the idea of a green as a neutral. That’s what I have in my home. I ended up with it by accident. I had a paint chip that in one light read as a khaki color but when I brought it into my living room, I realized it was green. So that’s what I went with as my wall color.

  46. I love the green paint you chose and think it fits you and your house perfectly! I also think the black and white drapes will go fine with it. However, what may be throwing you off is the darker fireplace. What would it look like if you left the fireplace white with the green walls and black and white drapes?

    There is one thing I remember reading about you when I first saw your blog and that was that you said that you didn’t go with trends that everybody else was doing. You didn’t want your house to be be like everyone else’s house. That has me wondering why you keep trying to go with neutral paints or the most “popular” paint colors out there that everyone else is doing? That doesn’t fit the Kristi that I’ve been seeing for the past couple of years. From what I’ve seen, you love color and pattern so that is what you should stick with.

    Paint colors are so hard to choose! I’ve been trying for months to find the perfect blue/green or aqua color for my living room but the colors are either too blue, too green, too light, too bright or too dark. I have a dark room with very little natural light. I see a color on the computer that looks perfect, go to get the sample card and it looks nothing like the color on my monitor or I buy the sample of paint but come out with one of the results I’ve listed above. I’ve bought a LOT of sample paints and even mixed them trying to find the perfect color. I feel your pain on this one!

    Whatever color you decide to go with, it is YOUR home and you have to live there so don’t worry about what anyone else has to say about it! I’m sure it will be beautiful, like always!

  47. I’m reading your post and said Oh, my! Glad to see you know what you want. Green is the favored color of some of the most creative people

  48. I hate picking out paint colors! They never seem to match what I see in my mind. We just did our living room/dining room/hallway a very neutral (similar to the look of your picture with the grand piano). Its light, bright, and clean, but definitely boring. I need some tips on bringing color into the room with child-friendly accessories with a grown up look. We decided to stay neutral for resale purposes in the near future and its better than what it was. I’m anxious to see how your rooms turn out!

  49. I used Benjamin Moore’s Tranquillity (bought it at Sherwin Williams) in our living room. I love it in every light. It goes really well with my black fireplace, white trim and green TV cabinet/dresser piece.

  50. I just have to chime in and say “go with green”! It’s YOUR house, pick whatever makes you happiest, be that a light grey, neutral green, periwinkle blue, or hot pink with zebra stripes! 🙂 Personally, I like pastels and rich, bold colours like orange and mahogany brown, as dated as they may seem. Your home should be your sanctuary, not a place you feel compelled to make look “modern”. Trends are only there to give us inspiration, they don’t rule us! Feng Shui looks so bright and clean and happy.

  51. Many, many thanks to all who have posted links.
    Undertones have been the bane of my painting life. The chemical composition of “paint” is complex…the main thing I have learned is “solids count”. In most (but NOT all) paints, the more expensive the paint the more solids it has. When looking for a dark, rich color I have found one coat of Ralph Lauren covers better than 3 coats of SW or BM (haven’t tried Behr).

  52. What I find interesting, Kristi, is that nearly all your inspiration pictures are neutral walls with neutral furnishings. Some have a bit of color here and there but most are monochromatic. I think these are steering you in the wrong direction for your wall color.

    I love colored walls but I envisioned your dining room with white walls. It would flow from your entry and music room, would be cohesive with your kitchen that is so visible from the front of the house. It will be bright and cheerful with all the colorful fabrics and, I am sure, artwork.

    I have painted many a room green, but light green can often look insipid or changes in the light to something quite unintended. Bad green is ghastly.

  53. Am I the only one who’s wondering what you’ll do to the piano? 🙂 Oh I so hope you don’t change the color. You loved it so much – it was what you always wanted.

    I loved the green you picked but wonder what it looks like at night. I love greens, (I have theee shadesbin my house) but it’s the changes with artficial light that do me in sometimes. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  54. All neutrals will have undertones, the point is to play up what is in the room to compensate for those tones. If you have a lavender undertone, use more yellows in the decoration of the room to neutralize the walls. If you want to play up the undertone, decorate with lavender decorations. The reason why all those pictures look so pretty is because the rooms aren’t empty. They’re finished and filled with much more interesting colors that complements the walls.

  55. Have you considered Behr Castle Path? It’s a nice neutral somewhere between the brown/gray neutrals, but has a definite green undertone. I could see it going nicely with the black wall of the music room & your white trim would really pop. I’ve used Castle Path & one shade lighter, Sandstone Cove in my past 2 homes & have been very pleased. Just thought I’d mention it in case you hadn’t sampled that one yet 🙂

  56. Kristi, you don’t have to stick with Behr paint to audition Behr colors. I’ve often used a cheaper paint to audition colors, and after I’ve found my color, I go back to the brand whose color its. I realize that some of the undertones might be a little bit different because of the differing chemistries of the paints used, but I have not found them significant enough to make much of a difference. That’s what I would try if I were you.

  57. Hi Kristi,
    Have you ever tried BM Coastal Fog? I LOVE green like you and have it all over my house. Coastal Fog is a grayish light green and all my green art work, chairs etc., go beautifully with it. I also have Revere Pewter on most of my main walls. It’s beautiful and goes so well with ANY color…green looks terrific with it. I never thought I’d get into the grays as I live in the Seattle area which is gray most of the time. But, mixed with warm colors and a lot of texture from Seagrass rugs and warm hard woods, it really does feel warm and light. Anyway, perhaps give Coastal Fog a try if you haven’t already. :). Love your thought process. It makes me realize I’m not the only crazy one! Ha Ha! Thanks for all you do and share.

  58. I love that green. And not to add to your confusion, did you try Behr Cancun sand? It’s a creamy light yellow. It would go great against your Kitchen and your curtains. I also use polar bear white on my trim.

  59. Have you ever tried tinting your own paint? It’s actually pretty easy to cancel undertones using plain old acrylic art paints. I’ve completely changed gallons of paint to new colours (I worked in a little paint store for years so I’m pretty magical at making any paint into a new colour!) A bit of basic colour theory and a set of primary colour acrylic craft paint is about all you need to customise your own paint. Just go slowly, add a few drops, stir, and paint onto a card or directly onto a small spot on the wall and let it dry…keep adjusting until it looses those undertones!

  60. I’m like you with colors. I searched high and low for a straight gray. I’m surprised you didn’t find “Dolphin Fin” Behr, I believe. I put it in my dining room. As close to plain ol’ gray that you can get! I wished I had found it before I painted my other room “Half Dollar” by BM. Or was it Silver Dollar? They do have both! Either way, it had light blue undertones. During the day my walls look baby bluish! Dolphin Fin stays the perfect gray!

  61. 1. I am a color consultant. I have found that the middle of the spectrum: yellow, green and grayed or toned true blues work great as NEUTRALS. I have used all three in that way
    2. For the readers who suggested white, it falls totally flat in any room lacking natural light/ no sun. I have painted my LR which is shaded by a front porch in warm green, mid toned creams ( like BM soft chamois, linen white), toned blush pink and LIGHT WARM/ not green UT. They have all worked well
    3. IMO, Behr paint is not cheap because it requires 3 coats to cover well. Plus it is quite runny compared to SW Emerald paint and BM regal or Aura. They don’t drip so less accidents and cleanup.
    4.I agree that MariaKillam.com has the best color advice!! She explains and gives real examples of every neutral undertone and COLORS THAT WORK
    5. Neutrals are considered by color experts to be far more difficult to pick than colors!
    6. Using color as your starting point does not work. Picking Color without context is useless. pick your rug, fabrics and maybe your artwork first!!
    7. I agree with Kristie that grays, green beiges, navy blues (look black) are not ideal in darkish spaces.

    1. I use Behr exclusively, and I’ve never in my life had to paint three coats of paint on anything…especially not a wall. I almost always use two coats, but it very often covers in one. In our condo, I had painted a room black. Then a year later, I decided I wanted it white. It covered with one coat of white paint, and required no primer. I did add a second coat just for good measure, but everyone kept telling me that I would have to prime and then use several coats of paint to cover. That wasn’t the case at all.

      I’ve used SW paint three times, and I’ve hated it each time. In fact, the first time, I took it back and got my money back because it was so awful. BM paint is expensive and sticky. I used it on my kitchen cabinets, and regretted it. To each his own, I suppose, but I’ll stick with one or two (never three) coats of Behr.

      I’m not picking paint as my starting point. I have my fabric, I’ve already chosen a rug, and anything I do in there has to coordinate with my kitchen. Those three things are my starting points for choosing a wall color in the dining room.

  62. I feel your struggle Kristi! I’m currently searching for a good grey for our black furniture/red accent/bare minimum natural lighting bedroom- I only have a day to make a decision since our painter is doing it while we’re out of town this weekend, and no time to color swatch with samples…but I finally got my stubborn husband to agree so I’m frantically searching. I wanted to suggest what we did for our house (although you might have already tried it) since you wanted the window casings to pop a bit: Malted Milk (I think Behr? We got it from Home Depot) is a neutral, almost-egg white/sandy color and we did our trim in Neon White (again, not 100% sure on the name but it’s stocked at HD on the shelves) and 3 years later I’m still in love with it. When we moved in the walls were just a shade or 2 sandier, but I felt it needed a lift and the malted milk was the perfect solution. Good luck!

  63. I, too, have been trying to find a neutral shade and fully agree that it is a major pain. Every paint chip sample has it’s own issue: too yellow, too ashy, too pink, too blue, too orange…. I suspect this phenomena has to do with the way the paint companies coordinate color groups (by hue). They build around particular undertones and jump a couple of notches to a deeper or lighter/brighter version of that same hue. To stay within the coordinating group the hue has to shift one way or the other and so there is no real “neutral”. (A true neutral would be a blend of several undertones and not lean too heavily in any one particular direction.)

    To simplify matters I would stay away from previewing colors online. As convenient was it is to browse for color choices a computer display just won’t reproduce them accurately. Unless you have a graphic art calibration tool — a physical device typically used in a graphic art or photo studio — it’s not possible to “see” colors accurately due to differences in display calibration.

    Color is entirely relative to the light it is under and the colors that surround it, which is why what works in one room or setting may not apply to another. For the above reasons, I agree with a previous comment that sometimes it is easier to find a color on something else entirely — such as a fabric — and have it matched. That way you aren’t stuck with the incremental “jumps” the paint companies make in effort to design coordinated palettes.