I used to live with white walls.  My thought was that with white walls I could inject color using my collections (see my article “Decorating with a Collection”).  I liked to rearrange my furniture it seemed every week; at least that is what my husband, Robert thought.  I would move my collections around because I get bored quickly.  That brings me back to my white walls; if I used color on the walls I would be limited to what I could do in a room.  That would never work for me!

Confession time (sorry Mom!), as a kid, my sister and I shared a room.  The walls were a dark lavender, with light lavender curtains, dark purple carpeting, and you guessed it – purple bedspreads!  It took me a long time to like purple again.   As if this wasn’t enough to cure anyone not to use color when painting… I painted my sister’s home.  She had five kids and each one chose a different color for their bedrooms.  One was a sunny yellow, another a light blue, another a light green and yes one in that dreaded lavender.  I called it “The Easter Egg” house.

While Robert and I were house hunting in Oklahoma, we would drive around the neighborhoods and this one house remained in my thoughts.  As it would get dark outside and the lights in the house would come on, this one living room with a huge picture window would come alive with a rich burgundy color that would draw me to that house again and again.  Well… (long pause here), I was wrong about color on the walls. 

So I took the plunge into color with all abandonment.  I chose a deep burgundy rose to paint in our living room (the color was pulled out of an area rug).  I was excited as I went to picked up the paint and talked with the expert at the paint counter.  Did I need to prime the walls?  Should the primer be tinted?  How many coats would I need for good coverage?  What finish did I want to use?!? 

 White walls definitely did not require all these questions to be answered or for that matter; ever thought of!  With the help of the paint expert, I headed home to conquer my living room walls with great gusto!  I painted a tinted primer and Robert kept saying he didn’t like the pink walls.  I assured him it was only the primer and not to worry.

The next day I did the first coat of my beautiful burgundy rose color in a semi gloss.  Color is not as forgiving as white; you need to be careful cutting in all the windows, corners and ceiling.  There was a lot of trim and moulding work in our living room and I was struggling (did I say I was a perfectionist?), but I kept on painting.  I could already tell that I would need to paint yet another coat – which of course Robert felt he needed to point out as well…

Third day, third coat of paint and I wasn’t enchanted with color any longer; what is wrong with white?  Our living room looked like a rosy, faux leather vinyl colored box!  We lived with it for a week (that was as long as we could tolerate it), thinking it would grow on us.  A couple of tears, an admission of defeat, I made the trek back to the paint store.  Talked with a different expert; I guess I knew enough about painting that you couldn’t just paint a different finish on top of another without doing something to prep the walls first.  Yes, I needed to prime again.  What?  The primer doesn’t need to be tinted?  Color will cover in one coat?  (Can you believe it, I was still using the same color with a eggshell finish this time.)

Back home I went with my arsenal of knowledge and tools ready to conquer the walls!  The white primer gave me some peace, but the color beneath was peeking through and yet I just kept painting.  Next I painted the burgundy rose, eggshell finish on the walls….

Can you see where this is going?  The white primer was showing through!!!  I ended up doing a second, which was really the sixth coat of paint to get the walls just right.  Were you counting?  I was!  We did like the results and yes, I did paint other rooms with color.  I am smarter about the whole process now though.  

Three houses later I still paint our walls with color as part of my decorating.  I have become very good at cutting in the trim, mouldings and ceilings; I don’t even need to tape any longer, but I still use it.  That must be the perfectionist in me!