In need of an intervention

Is it possible to request your own intervention? Because I need it. Perhaps it has become clear through some of my posts, but I have a tendency to get hung up on things. Like REALLY hung up. Once I set my mind to solving some issue, I become obsessed with it. All free time is spent thinking about it, researching it, pondering on it and generally getting bored with myself for not being able to think about anything else.

This happened a couple months ago with lights for my kitchen. The lights I was obsessing over finally came and you know what? They are great, but they aren't like the holy grail of lights or anything like that. But that was one of those things where I scoured the Internet for weeks until I found something I liked, and then I kept looking to make sure I didn't like anything more. It also happens annually with Japanese maple trees.

So today's obsession, I'm sad to report, is one I'm revisiting. You'll recall my question for the "perfect" white (by the way ... stop looking. It doesn't exist. A pretty good white or a usually good white is about as good as it's gonna get so save yourself some therapy and just use it) here. Thinking I had solved this earth-shattering mystery, I chose Benjamin Moore's Cotton Balls. Then I painted the back door with it (after buying a full gallon, of course). And when I was finished I stepped back and thought hmm ... well that's quite bright, but I have grown tired of my current gray-undertoned trim and I figured it was just brightening things up. Then I painted the new banquette the same color. And wow, that was REALLY white. Like uncomfortably white.

But after all that work, was it so bad that I couldn't stand it? Not really, but it was just something I knew would bother me forever so better I deal with it now before I start hitting the trim in the house and eventually the cabinets.

And that's when it started getting really bad. The hours I've logged on the Internet searching for specific paint colors would be enough to get some sort of master's degree in color theory. I keep paint samples in my purse and took them ON VACATION. I notice white everywhere I go. Today I fought the urge to take my paint samples up to the trim of a random house I passed to see what what they used. My house is starting to resemble a patchwork quilt as I test colors all over (at last count I had them in four rooms, plus the stairwell and on a large piece of drywall). Larry, the paint guy at the local True Value store (my favorite store) that sells Benjamin Moore paint now knows my name and asked me today how the Bavarian Cream sample I bought Friday worked out. When I told him it was a bust even HE told me I was overthinking this white thing (the same thing my husband and mother told me earlier in the day). I have enough tester pints of different whites that when it comes time to paint my new closet (which will be the world's smallest walk-in closet, but probably will end up being the perfect white) I could put on 20 coats if I wanted to.

A few of the places I have samples of paint in my house (and this isn't all of them):

Part of my problem is that I'm way too influenced by other people's comments on color or by the name of colors. One color I'm considering is called Mascarpone but someone commented that it was "very creamy" and now I'm worried that it's too creamy. I looked for awhile at a color called Pointing by Farrow & Ball (which has no stores in my state) because so many people declared it "perfect" but then realized it's way more creamy than I want. Designer Sarah Richardson uses ICI Natural White in every house she does and I seriously almost just ordered a can of it because I figured it must be perfect. Well, I doubt it is. None of them are.

Even photos don't help. I'll look at a picture of a kitchen online or in a magazine and decide "it's perfect" then I find out what color was used and I realize I've already sampled that color and I don't like it. Whites are fickle: they photograph horribly and are entirely dependent on white and the other colors in the room.

What I want is a color that does not read as "cream" or "white white." When someone looks at it I want them to say "oh that's white" not "oh, I love your cream trim" even if they do. And it needs to look equally good in my light-filled, eastern-and-southern exposure kitchen as it does my rather dim living room.

I narrowed it down to two: Cloud White and Mascarpone. Cloud white seems not off-white enough and Mascarpone seems possibly too yellow. I jumped out of bed at 7 a.m. this morning as inspiration struck: I'll just mix them together and have the perfect color. And you know what, it might be perfect, or at least pretty good. And then my husband reminded me of how this journey all started: I wanted a "named" color so that I would never have to worry about keeping track of custom mix or about paints from different brands not matching (I'm planning to buy a higher quality paint for my cabinetry). 

I might still try Sherwin Williams Dover White but unless inspiration strikes with that color, I'm thinking Mascarpone is the way to go. Maybe.


  1. If your only problem in life is which white to pick -- then you have no problems at all....ha ha! Good luck -- I am sure you will love which ever one you choose!

  2. I found a blog recently from a "color expert" that I just love that might aid you. Maria K. has all sorts of great articles about chosing colors. A couple from her sidebar are entitled, "The Best Trim Colors, NOT Cloud White" and "White Kitchen Cabinets". I have spent a lot of time at her blog, so you are forewarned....

    Hope you find your white!

    Christine in Alaska

  3. Christine, do you want to know what is even more pathetic? I didn't mention in my post. Not only did I post about Maria here: but I also did a color consult with her! Yep ... and she told me to use Mascarpone and yet I sit here still questioning it. There is no hope for me. And you know what ... I'm buying a quart of it tomorrow because I think it might be ... THE ONE.

    It just proves that I have some sort of mental block.

  4. Erin,
    You used a color consultant to pick out a white? I hate whites mixed up the trim on our doors and baseboards and the difference is huge. never thought a white could be so different from one another.

  5. I did, Randy. Granted, we talked about a few other color options for the room, too, but the primary discussion was about white. There's so much white in my house that I feel like it's the biggest color decision I'll make, not to mention it is such a huge PITA to paint trim that I'd like to get it right the first time.

  6. I would say Marscapone is right in between cloud white and Ivory white and the reason why cloud white is so popular is because it is off-white. Not screaming white and not cream.

    Loved your story, I read every word of it!!

  7. I loved reading this!!!! I am exactly the same way...on every level...from keeping the few chosen samples in my purse on sampling the hell out of the outside of my ultimately trying to mix two colors but then realizing that I need just one color to make life finally deciding on mascarpone as my outside white which was brought to my attention early on but I somehow managed to hate it initially. still working out the details of my exterior but its nice to know Im not the only one...

  8. I am hysterical reading this! I realize I am a few years late replying, but had I not seen your photo, I would have thought I wrote this in my sleep!! I, too, have purchased every white paint known to man (woman) and finally decided on the perfect (not!) white. I wound up using Simply White and in some areas definitely has a yellow/pink? Some areas it's perfect. Since my painter has suggested an intervention (he has repainted the great room (12 foot ceilings) three times) and I have now run out of painting money, it will have to stay for now. People think I'm crazy when I say I'm having a problem with finding the perfect white paint, but that's only because they have not tried to. So, it will stay for now. But in a month if I still hate it...

  9. I realize I am two years late posting my comments, but I am hysterical! Had I not looked at your photo, I would have thought I wrote this in my sleep. I have every white color known to man (or woman) and after having the painter re-do the entire great room (12 foot ceilings) three times, I have decided to live with Simply White for now. I was looking for just a bit of off white but I am now seeing a definite undertone (yellow? peach?) but have to live with it for now (ran out of money paying the painter!). It's not bad, it's just not exactly what I was hoping. So, if I still hate it in a month... I will redo. And then have an intervention.


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