What color is my house?

The walls, that is. The interior walls. I don’t know!

Actually, it’s not “my” house, my residence–it’s my rental property, whose walls I personally painted every square inch of in a most pleasing, warm, “designer” color. But I can’t remember what color it is!

I still have the Kelly Moore swatches from which I picked the color in 2004. I even have the receipt from Kelly Moore for the purchase of five gallons of #26. That has to be the color I chose for the walls, right? But the swatch looks nothing like the color I see on the walls in 2011, the color I gambled on, the color I love. This bland color “Oyster” cannot be the color of satisfaction that I see on my walls.

As the responsible owner and maintainer of this property, from my initial remodel through three tenants, surely I kept a record of my original color choice? And most definitely I have at least a partial gallon of it in my inventory of supplies. I’m that organized! Because I know there will always be paint touch-ups to do between tenants.

But after the most recent three-year tenancy, I am horrified to find that among the many cans of paint, I have not one labeled to indicate it is THE wall paint. In fact, I have several cans of paint of various mystery colors and applications. Interior or exterior? This house or that one?! This lack of documentation is uncharacteristic of me and just plain irresponsible of a landlord and businessperson.

But chastisements aside, I need paint. I need more than “touch-up” paint. I’ve just had drywall repair done in one of the upstairs bedrooms, the result of water damage from shingles that blew away. I have to have the exact right color of paint. In this large of an area, it will be noticeable if it’s not.

Despite my original receipt for #26 Oyster, the day after Christmas I went to Kelly Moore and confidently requested that they mix a quart of #231 Spanish Sand. The name Spanish Sand has a much warmer feel to it, don’t you think? 

And the swatch more closely matched the color in my memory, the color I had risked my neck to paint on every inch of a two-story stairwell. In that house, the light is so changeable. The paint seems to vary from wall to wall as light hits it from different angles at different times of day. But Spanish Sand had to be my color. It’s warmth matched my feeling of satisfaction that I had chosen a good color, my gamble had paid off the first time.

Later that day I began to apply the paint to the repaired wall. The very first stroke of paint raised my suspicion. Several strokes later I told myself that it would dry to a lighter color. By the time I finished the area, I knew that it most likely would not.

What could I do? At this point, I could only wait for it to dry. I had plenty else to do to restore the house to its pre-tenancy sheen.

OK, so I bought the wrong color! I guess you could say that at least I ruled one out.

Saturday I went back to Kelly Moore. I took the 2004 receipt in hopes that they would tell me their numbers had changed! Or that they had mixed this paint incorrectly. I still couldn’t believe that #26 Oyster was the welcoming color that covered my walls. They told me the best thing would be to bring them at least a quarter-size piece of the painted wall so they could match it. Right. And where exactly should I cut into the drywall to deface my beautiful walls?

It occurred to me that I could get such a sample from behind the thermostat. So the next day I unscrewed the thermostat to find that I had only painted around it. No paint sample there. But there was the security system keypad. Had I painted around it? or removed it from the wall to paint underneath?

The wall underneath was painted! So against all common sense, I cut a wedge out of the wall, which widened the gaping hole already there for the wiring. I can always put it back later, the Kelly Moore guy had said. Painters do it all the time. The small drywall sample threatened to crumble into less than quarter size, so I gingerly laid it aside.

After a full day’s work at the house, I brought the sample home to compare to the swatches. Silly me. It was immediately apparent that my beloved color was in fact #26 Oyster. Forgive me if I still prefer to think of it in terms of more appealing imagery.

And I found that I did still have a partial gallon of “Oyster”. I knew it! I would not have left myself without at least a dried-up can of each of the colors that adorn my two houses. As to why I hadn’t labeled them more clearly, well, that was a $16 mistake.

Anybody need some paint in Spanish Sand?

The colors continue tomorrow…

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