The discreet charm of paint colours

Comet’s ear – usually black – has been given a temporary albeit accidental dye job.

After realizing that we could realistically be putting our house up for sale in the next few weeks, I’ve been in hardcore painting mode. Funnily enough, as painting is among the cheapest and fastest upgrades anyone can do to a house before selling it, painting is likely the only upgrade we will do.

I redid some of the trim in the hallway earlier this week and forgot to put up a wet paint sign (and to teach the dogs how to read), and since Comet needs to be around people at all times, things got a little hairy (get it?) in those close quarters.


Exhibit A: The bottom left-hand corner shows the damage done to this poor pup’s ear. Sorry, bud!

My first big task, though, was the barely-used, nearly-bare spare bedroom. The colour in there was reasonably appealing, but it was kind of scuffed and dull and left over from the previous owners, so there was no backup paint. We went looking for a medium neutral to replace it and settled on ‘Progressive Taupe,’ which it turns out is a lot like ‘Regular Taupe’ (which interestingly doesn’t exist), but it believes strongly in the right to same-sex marriage and has dabbled in veganism.

It was absolutely satisfactory for the bedroom, but in the big, open living room and dining room, we wanted something lighter and brighter, so we went one step up on the same palette to ‘Painter’s White,’ which has now been applied all of the walls in that room. In turns out that to painters, white is actually grey. If grey is the brightest your life gets, maybe it’s time to reconsider your career choice.

The trim colour – ‘White On White’ – sounds (and looks) a little more uplifting (it’s basically just white), but also a little bit like race-inspired violence.

And the very similar white that needs to be updated in the kitchen is called ‘Swiss Coffee.’ I have never had a coffee in Switzerland, but based on the colour of the cabinets, my guess is that they don’t actually drink coffee, they just drink milk in coffee shops. Either that, or the person who named it must have asked for coffee with a cream, and the person taking the order must have just heard, “Hi, could I please have… a cream.”

The point is this; there are a lot of different hues and shades that people might want to look at every day on the inside of their homes. I understand that a paint namer’s job is probably a tough one – there are only so many ways to describe yellow, after all – but I think what he or she comes up with is generally ridiculous and non-descriptive.

There has to be a better way.

When I tell my mother that we painted the bedroom ‘Progressive Taupe,’ she has a pretty good idea of what I mean, because taupe is in the name. (Although, again, ‘Regular Taupe’ probably would have sufficed.)

But ‘Painter’s White’ is most definitely not white. Although Google suggests that a renaissance tapestry is often a multicoloured, vibrant item, ‘Renaissance Tapestry,’ it turns out, is a slightly purple deep grey. Meanwhile, ‘Espadrille,’ which is a shoe, is a slightly less purple deep grey. When I think of destiny, I usually think of a strong medium blue, but apparently ‘Destiny’ is a muted rosy pink. And ‘Discreet Charm’ is the lightest deep purple I’ve ever seen.

Aren’t my descriptions superior?

If I called mother back up and told her that instead of going with ‘Progressive Taupe,’ we went with ‘Slightly Less Purple Deep Grey,’ she’d get it. If I told her we were going with ‘Espadrille,’ however, she might ask me why I’m putting  normally casual flat, but sometimes high heeled shoes originating from the Pyrenees on the wall.

All I’m suggesting is that maybe these ‘charming’ paint names are a little too discreet.


7 thoughts on “The discreet charm of paint colours

  1. oh, heather,i’m still laughing, you definitely chose the right profession….and for those who don’t know me, heather has my potential responses to her potential statements down to a tee.
    our living room is ” barrister’s white ” ( cream , and i don’t know what that has to do with members of the legal profession,it’s not even the colour of their wigs ).
    the trim in the kitchen is “kitten white “, which looks suspiciously akin to the regular white trim in the dining and living rooms…………….confusing, isn’t it ?

    • When I first read your comment, I thought you said that the white in your kitchen is “Kitchen White,” which sounded very, very appropriate. Now that I think about it, that would probably be an excellent marketing strategy.

      “No, sir. Kitchen White is to be used exclusively for kitchens. If you’re planning on putting white in your dining room, you’d better also get a gallon of our Dining Room White. You won’t be disappointed.”

  2. I guess I’d better grow up soon, as I’ve always said that naming paint colours is my ultimate profession when I grow up. Sounds like this profession needs practical help. For those of you who don’t know me (sorry Dianne for stealing your words) Heather has not a clue about what my potential responses will be to any of her potential questions. Maybe in time. 🙂

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