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I love gray. I especially love my gray walls in my primary bedroom (I call it driftwood; Valspar calls it Montpelier Ashlar Gray). I love that I’ve used gray in other parts of the house, like the guest bedroom (Benjamin Moore’s Sea Pearl matched to my tried-and-true Behr – it’s almost white, so it’s a blank canvas for pops of color) and powder room (Martha Stewart’s Gull matched to Behr – it appears pearly on the swatch but it seems kind of greenish in my bathroom, again a backdrop for art and color soon to be injected).

I didn’t discover I loved gray until after I’d painted my living room walls. Twice. I’d first chosen a warm beige that I thought was beautiful, but then it went sallow on my walls. The house was already sick with old lady (both in smell and attitude) and in dire need of a makeover, and my first color choice made it look even sicker. So, I went back to the paint store and went the opposite of buttery tan – I went with a cool sand color. Valspar’s Sandy Shell, to be exact.

And I loved it… until now. I’ve found the perfect tan that I spent hours and hours obsessing over and picking out the perfect shade. And now, I’ve lived in it for a year, watching it turn my living room into a cave. Here’s a photo from last Christmas, taken during the day, and the living room still seems dark. Boo.

By painting the guest bedroom and powder room nearly white, it’s slowly dawned on me that the house needs a lot of help looking brighter. There is little overhead lighting (as you may recall from our kitchen lighting upgrade). And by playing the ol’ Sesame Street game (sing it with me, “One of these things is not like the others…”), it became obvious that the tan on my walls is what’s dragging our living room back into the dark ages.

So, I’m back on the hunt. I’m going to try to find a brighter, neutral color that will work with the rest of the cooler tones I seem to be drawn to in the rest of the house. That way, my rug color choice, whenever I wind up buying it, will be all the more exciting instead of feeling so monochromatic.

The drawback to all of this? Well, the good news is that paint is cheap, but it gets expensive when you have to buy four gallons of it. Why four? Because the walls in my living room extend into the downstairs entryway…

Which then go down the hall to the kitchen…

And also go up the stairs (photo taken before we ripped out the carpet)…

Here’s what I’m thinking, though:  I kind of want to paint my stairway a different color. Tone-on-tone, but different than the living room. Just ’cause. I don’t even have a good explanation. The dilemma I will face is making the change subtle, and not “why did she do that?” when it’s all said and done.

Breaking this to Scott wasn’t easy; he looked at me like I’m crazy. I know it’s because of my paint-induced freakouts over living room walls that left me crying and feeling like I was in over my head. Yeah, basically the first freakout of owning my own home was over my living room wall color. Dramatic and irrational, but there you have it. I haven’t brought any swatches into the house to let him settle into the idea. This is happening, but not until summer when I can leave the doors open while I paint. I mean, we’re talking a lot of walls here. That’s a lot of paint fumes, even if you use low-VOC Behr like I do.

I may or may not head down the yellow brick gray road, but I’m definitely thinking bright and cool. I would love to have the warm, dark floors and beige/cream furniture really pop and look super relaxing and fun.

What do you think of my potential paint endeavor? Have I gone of the deep end looking for paint colors number three and four? Has anyone else experienced this, or are you all perfect paint people? Surely there’s someone out there (ahem, Michelle) who knows what I’m talking about!

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  1. Hahaha, oh boy can I ever understand the paint freak out moments. Our living room has left me with such a horrible case of paint aisle anxiety that even walking into that section causes me to break out in hives (true story). BUT I say go for it….jsut paint right? If you end up hating the stairwell a different color you can always go back and paint it again right?

  2. You know what's cool? Really bright green!

    I'm right there with you in the agonizing department, but like Michelle said, it's a $25 mistake if you hate it, and it might turn out to be soooooo gorgeous.

  3. You could do something really fun in the stairway, even stripes or 2 tone. Its a small area so a small job and not too expensive. If the hubby isn't keen maybe bribe a girlfriend to help :)

  4. I think I went through 5 paint colors until I stumbled onto my secret weapon– Laura Ashley Haystack. You will not believe how amazing this color is. It is very neutral and sort of boring on the chip, but on the walls in those dark corners it just **glows**. Best paint ever for my townhouse with windows on only two sides (it really hard to find a color that looks good under all lighting conditions). Bonus, it looks amazing with dark wood floors, aqua blue, silver and GRAY accents.

    1. Have been looking for more Laura Ashley Haystack, but Lowes does not carry it anymore. Where can I find it?

  5. I am wondering what you decided to do with the paint? I am having a paint dilemma myself and think my husband is going to go NUTS when I tell him I do not like the color we just painted the kitchen. I have hundreds of dollars worth of paint on these walls! You know the saying, “if these walls could talk!” Well, i have taken that saying to a whole new level! It's just so hard to pick a color that looks good in all lighting! And right now I feel like I am living in a mud hut thanks to the Taupe i painted in the kitchen.

  6. @LisaI'm still planning on painting it gray, but I'm not quite sure which color. I need to get a move on with it though – so much to do in so little time!

  7. I know what you mean about the paint frustrations! I am wondering if you could give me the paint codes and which kind of paint you used for “Benjamin Moore’s Sea Pearl matched to my tried-and-true Behr” ? That is what I need to do a re-piece of furniture! It would perfect with a dark grey that I want to paint the top of the piece!!

    1. Most of the time, Home Depot has all of the Benjamin Moore colors in their computer database already. You can probably just ask them by giving them the name or code of the BM product! I’ll see if I can find mine, but that’s your best bet if you want to try to get it quickly. Also, OC-17 is another Benjamin Moore color that is used a LOT and is the perfect light neutral gray. If they don’t have Sea Pearl, they’ll have that one!

      1. Thank you!!! I had no idea about the Home Depot…. that’s a great tip plus ilive only a few blocks from one :)