Jessie Raymond: Partnering on paint color is painful

“What do you think?” I ask Mark, tossing a pile of paint chips on the table. “I might do the cupboards in a pale neutral. You know, something lighter than taupe but darker than bone, cooler than ivory but warmer than gray. Are you OK with that?”
He shrugs. “What the hell is ‘taupe’?”
Mark’s been no help whatsoever on this walk-in pantry renovation.
Fine, he’s done some stuff, like refinishing the floor, putting up the drywall, installing the window and building the cupboards. Now he’s working on the shelves and drawers and milling out some reclaimed wood for the countertops. But in terms of helping me pick out paint colors, he’s useless.
Weeks ago, we had some heated moments trying to plan the layout of the space. I made suggestions, he shot them down. He made assumptions, I objected. We yelled, we stewed, we (grudgingly) compromised.
I miss those days.
Now I’m stuck with the pressure of picking colors for — and painting — the cupboards and walls, colors that will someday, probably years from now, carry over to the new kitchen. Mark wants nothing to do with the process.
The other day, I handed him two paint chips and said, “I’m torn between Used Chewing Gum and Squirrel Belly. Which one do you like better?”
He peered intently at the chips. He brought them to the window. He held them at arm’s length. He looked back and forth between them for several seconds.
Finally, letting out a deep breath, he said, “Are you sure these aren’t the same?”
Honestly, it’s like he can’t differentiate colors beyond what you get in an eight-count Crayola box.
His lack of interest and his dog-like color perception mean I have to bear the burden of choice on my own. And I lack confidence.
I tend to head to Pinterest for inspiration. There, the trending color is gray. Luckily, I like gray.
But do I like gray because I actually like gray, or because currently all the prettiest rooms on Pinterest are painted gray? If I paint our cupboards gray, will gray instantly go out of style to be replaced by, say, brown? Will I like brown?
I don’t want to be a sheep. And I don’t want to be the woman with the outdated gray pantry. And given the labor and tedium of repainting cupboards, the color has to be something I’ll be happy with for the next 40 years or until I die, whichever comes first.
The stakes are high.
Recognizing that Pinterest doesn’t always reflect real people’s homes, I also check with what I call Reality Pinterest: online real estate listings. What color are actual kitchens these days?
Unfortunately, most houses, the kind that real people have lived in for years before selling, look a bit tired. While once upon a time I might have liked dusty rose countertops and white Formica cupboards, I’m looking for something a little more current.
Some listings do show recently remodeled kitchens, but they tend to share a familiar theme: gray. (Guess I’m not the only Pinterest watcher.)
Still, I shouldn’t be swayed by trends; I should pick whatever color I like. I’ve always liked a nice gray-green, something without the antiseptic unfriendliness of a cool gray or the muddiness of an olive. Just straight-up gray-green.
But what if I paint all the cupboards gray-green — like most of the rest of the house, frankly — and wake up one day in a year or two and think, “What is this place, an army barracks? Why didn’t I go with gray?”
That’s why I’m thinking of choosing a light neutral for the cupboards. I can go with something bolder on the walls and then repaint them if I get bored. The thought of painting these cupboards just once has already put me in a state of mild dread; I can’t handle the idea that I might someday want to redo them.
Yesterday, I tried one last time to get Mark to weigh in. “I think I’ve found the perfect shade for the cupboards,” I said, handing him the latest chip. “It’s called Bland Indifference.”
“Whatever you want. I don’t care,” he said.
That’s it. I give up. When it comes to getting Mark’s opinion on this, I’m waving the white flag.
OK, not exactly white, but something lighter than taupe, darker than bone.

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