top of page

Color Game : How Can Choosing a Wall Color be so Hard?

May 31st is D-Day for my rooms. Jesus and his merry band of painters will arrive at 7:30 a.m. When Jesus was here last week to finalize our plans, he looked at all the color swatches painted almost everywhere. "Oh, these are all white." Well, there is cream and light gray and beige and taupe. But, in all honestly, they do look pretty much all white. I was already having doubts about white paint but I'm getting ahead of myself. Last month, I figured I needed profession help. Samantha Moss Home Color + Design popped up in Yelp. She's a color expert. If I still lived in Portland, I'd have my friend Liz come over and we'd figure it out. She and I see color the same way. But I was intrigued by Samantha and set up a house call in late April. Within five minutes, I knew Samantha understands color in ways I can't. She talked about Light Reflectance Value which is a scale commonly used by design professionals where 0 = absolute black and 100 is pure white. She walked around the rooms. She asked me what I like and don't like. Then she said, "I'd paint these walls off-white." I guess I was waiting to hear that would be OK because I wanted off-white. With all the big windows, the rooms could handle off-white which would bring the outside in. But which offf-white to choose?

Samantha recommended Benjamin Moore's White Dove as the wall color, Simply White for trim and kitchen cabinets and Iron Mountain as the kitchen island color. As we talked, I thought White Dove, a very popular wall and trim color, might be too light. Samantha walked me through other options. Three other combinations were chosen including Ballet White, Classic Grey and Swiss Coffee for the walls. Acadia White was also suggested as I thought I wanted creamier. We talked color for an hour. I could have talked to her all day. She said I was truly a Benjamin Moore girl as they offer a far larger selection of off-white colors.

Samantha left large paint samples for me to ponder. I'm having the entry, kitchen, sunroom, hall, staircase, and what's called the family room painted. Also, all the trim in the whole interior plus 21 doors. As you can imagine, I want to get this right.

Then I ordered paint squares from Samplize as Samantha suggested. They are painted with the real colors from the paint manufacturer and printed on a textured paper that resembles what most people have on their walls. They have a sticky back and can be moved around with ease. They are about $5 each and for another $5 you can have them delivered overnight. Looking at Ballet White (top) and Simply White (bottom) didn't make me fall in love.

As it turned out, I've been hoarding off-white paint chips for years, including Behr's Crisp Linen, a favorite of Leanne Ford. Some of these are more color than I wanted. But I didn't want white-white either.

Samantha suggested painting the kitchen cabinets Simply White (the trim color). While I think that would be beautiful, turns out painting the cabinets will cost $6,000. Yikes! I do like the current cabinet color (Kelly Moore's Autumn Haze) and White Dove (painted on the wall) seems to look good with the cabinet color. I'm still not in love with the quartz and Samantha made a great point. She said there's purple in the quartz and it conflicts with the cabinet color. Suddenly, that made perfect sense. Off-white cabinets would be more calming. If only I had an extra $6,000.

Samantha suggested painting the island a different color - a charcoal grey called Iron Mountain. I truly am in love with that idea.

Still not completely happy with the wall colors, I tumbled down a rabbit hole on Friday. I went back to the paint store and got 2 more sample quarts. The taupe wall color in the bedrooms and baths makes me happy. Maybe I could have it lightened (trying minus 25% and 50% of original color) and use it on the main floor. Then, it turned out that the recommended Ballet White sample looks to be about the same hue. Hmmm.

Nine sample quarts later. Hey, this is adding up.

So yesterday, I woke up thinking I need to choose a color and be done with it. I knew that Acadia White was too yellow and Swiss Coffee too pink. Here were the finalists - (l to r) Benjamin Moore Classic Silver, the taupe (in our bedrooms) in 25%, 50%, 100% strength. Two Samplize samples are on the right including Benjamin Moore's Ballet White (top ) and White Dove (bottom). And this wall is painted White Dove as a test as well.

As I write this, I realize I've spent way more time than I needed to. I'm going to use White Dove which is the first color Samantha mentioned during our consultation. These rooms have had more color on the walls than I realized, so it will be an adjustment. As my Clark's Pest technician recently said, "Not everyone can pull off yellow." Maybe 20 years ago I could. After the floors were installed, it was clear the walls were looking dated and worn out. Time for a fresh look. I'll be back with the rest of the story after the job is done. In the meantime, I'd love to know your wall colors (just add in the comment field below). After all, I still have a week to change my mind.

see Samantha's contact info and portlio at

Samantha's based in Oakland, CA but also does consultations by phone.

for paint sample sizes (8-1/2 x 14) :


What's New
bottom of page