a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Aug, 2012

Reno update #36 – panic attacks about paint

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

Our renovation has become all-consuming for me and I can think of little else. I woke with a start at 4:00 this morning wondering if our dining room is too small. (Is it? Did we make a mistake? Arrrrgh!)

I had a whole lot of home-related things on my plate yesterday and by the end of the day I was feeling like a wrung-out old sponge.

I did manage to buy light fixtures for our bathroom vanity. I picked them up at the Electrical and Plumbing Store in Bell’s Corners. We’ve purchased a few things here and I’ve always been very happy with the service. The prices are right too.

I managed to fall in love with the last two of these fixtures and so I negotiated a bit of a deal… which was lucky for me. I also bought a shelf/towel holder for our walk-in shower. I’m worried that it might be a bit large for the space. Because of the placement of studs in the wall, the actual shower unit (taps, rain head, and a rail with a handheld shower) is farther away from the far wall than I would have liked, but we’ll see if we can make it work.

The other biggie we accomplished yesterday was regarding paint choices.

The architect and I spent about two hours pouring over a thousand different paint chips from Benjamin Moore. BUT, at least we had a starting point. I picked the colours using one of our favourite paintings from Alison Fowler. The painting will figure prominently in our main living area, so I thought this might be a smart idea.

So yes, paint colour selection. My eyeballs were hurting after awhile and I’m pretty sure I was developing a nervous twitch. It was incredibly challenging for me to narrow it down to something that I thought would suit our space.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but this is what we ended up with:

Paint colours for the house

Not pictured above: this soft grey for the master bedroom and a darker grey for the family bathroom. Also missing from the photo, a shade of turquoise Sarah picked for her room as well as the white of Emma’s bedroom. (Related: did you know Benjamin Moore has a colour-picking app? There’s one for the U.S. and one for Canada. It’s not perfect, but it’s neat. You should check it out.)

Choosing paint colours is not for the weak. It boggles my mind how utterly different colours can look in different light and in different settings.

The blue in the photo above is intended to be for my office and for an accent wall. It looked lighter, greyer and softer in the architect’s office but when I held up that tiny piece of paper up to The Actual Wall I was shocked at how bright it looked. It’s sky blue! Am I brave enough to have a big wall in the middle of my home painted sky blue?

I think this is the crux of it. Paint choice is like a personality test. It takes serious guts to think outside the beige and apply something that is not considered a neutral. I profiled a home for article once in which the family chose to paint their ceiling a very rich dark purple. PURPLE. And it looked incredible. I wish I had the confidence to do something like that. I’m all about picking nice neutrals and maybe livening it up with throw pillows. Gah. How boring. But then again, on the flip side, we DO have to live in this house.

I had a particularly difficult time choosing the greys. Greys are notoriously hard to get right, especially in a bedroom or bathroom. Too much blue and it looks cold and sterile. Too much yellow and you might as well be calling it brown. There’s a good article about it on the HGTV website you might want to check out if you’re interested in this kind of thing.

I just want to curl up in a ball and be done with it today. I’m still so worried that we didn’t get it right and it’s giving me heart palpitations. Yesterday I had pint-sized paint samples mixed from the palette we chose. Each one covers 25 square feet of wall – two coats. I left it at the house with instructions regarding what colour goes where. I guess we’ll see if we got it right soon enough.

What else is new?

  • the exterior doors are on – BLACK – and they look fantastic
  • the drywall is almost entirely done
  • the kitchen is in the works – we saw a sample of our cabinetry and it looks great
  • the stucco is being repaired, siding is almost done
  • the side porch and garbage enclosure is coming along really well and I’m quite happy with it
  • the back deck is dreamy
  • interior doors have been chosen and ordered
  • the new basement floor has been poured
  • trim goes on very soon
… and my to-do list is still very long. Sigh.
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10 Responses to "Reno update #36 – panic attacks about paint"

1 | sassymonkey

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:52 am


The nice thing about paint is that in the big scheme of home decor it’s actually pretty cheap to do over again if it doesn’t look right. Or at least that’s what I tell myself every time I pick out paint colours.

2 | Sonya

August 23rd, 2012 at 12:06 pm


When I was pregnant with my first (and suffering from crazy insomnia) my husband and I got the first coat of paint on the baby’s wall (blue) only for me to decide I absolutely didn’t like it. I sent him back to the store a couple of times that week so we could try out different shades of blue on the wall (I think we went through about half a dozen!). In the end I decided I liked the original colour and we went with that. My husband will not let me forget how crazy I was that week! I blame it on the lack of sleep ;) And I still love the colour…

3 | Chris

August 23rd, 2012 at 1:59 pm


Sassymonkey is exactly right. Compare and contrast with the cost of, say, changing your countertop selection after it’s been cut.

That’s why it’s usually the last thing you pick…

…it was the last thing you picked, right?

Boring is good too, because you’re less likely to want to redo it in a year.

4 | Alison Pentland (@FeeFiFoFunFaery)

August 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm


I feel your pain. I moved a month ago into what is basically a construction zone. I like the vibe of your colours and the birch trees in the painting that inspired you. The fixture you picked is quite interesting and looks very old-school. We wanted deep neutrals for our old-school home and one colour I wanted to share was Lamp Room Grey from Farrow and Ball. Changes room to room and with the light. Very interesting! It will come all together for us both … won’t it?

5 | Stefania

August 23rd, 2012 at 7:38 pm


We saw your door today when we drove by. We were in the ‘hood. :-) The house is coming along and looking fab.

6 | binki

August 24th, 2012 at 1:12 pm


Miss Fish is not grey/beige. Paint at least one room in your house a bold fun colour. I’m thinking your office would be ideal. A nice vivid blue sounds good.

You will not regret it. It will remind you (and those who visit you) that you are not vanilla. You are extraordinary.

7 | coffeewithjulie

August 28th, 2012 at 11:38 am


I’m confused why your architect was helping you pick paint colours … but regardless, I love them! And I think that blue will be both soothing and inspiring. Show us a photo of the black door :)

8 | andrea

August 28th, 2012 at 7:37 pm


Thanks guys! I appreciate your support. I am feeling slightly less panicky about it at this moment. :)

Julie: he’s helping out because he’s a pro! Did I tell you he designed a special shed for our garbage and advised us on tile choices too? Many architects will do this kind of thing.

10 | laurel

August 29th, 2012 at 6:57 pm


If you pick a more ‘vibrant’ colour and are worried it’s too much, start with only 75% of the colour mixed-you will still have the right hue but not as intense and you can always go back and add colour to the can but you can’t take it out. You are right, it will look ‘more’ on the wall than on a chip.

Also, you are right-picking colours is not for the faint of heart. I do it a lot and some of my friends get me to help them…I have the BM designer series with chips of everything!
We did a lot of grey, grey blues here and one we love is grey cloud-we get a lot of compliments on it. It’s odd as it looks different in each room it is in which we like.It’s colour but doesn’t take over which is key as I change decor a lot. We also silver grey for the same reasons!
Can’t wait to see the finished project!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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