Painter’s Remorse – it’s a real phenomenon, this is a true story, it happened to me.
At the time my partner and I built our first home he was working in an architect’s office. The
architect’s wife just happened to be an interiors consultant and within the blink of an eye had
whipped out a dossier of colours for our contemporary suburban dwelling. No agonising over
decisions except to say ‘yes’ and get on with the build. The results were impressive.
Our second house was a different story. Although there was still only the two of us, this was an
expansive house with a room for everything and large open spaces with walls that seemed to go on
forever. No longer having access to the colour consultant, the sensible option seemed to be white.
Relief was fleeting however, as we stood in front of the towering wall of paint sample squares all of
which were white. Three thousand tiny squares all white – ok, so perhaps I stretch the truth a little –
there were only two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine, but to paint-colour novices such as us,
the enormous range was somewhat overwhelming.
We each grabbed a handful of colour squares and beat a hasty retreat to mull over our options.
Through a process of elimination, and several glasses of wine, we narrowed our selection down to
one – the perfect white.
Or so we thought…
As perfect as it looked on the tiny paint sample, once the carpet and tiles had gone in, we realised
that all whites were not created equal. Unbeknownst to us, we had in fact chosen a cool white with
a grey undertone, which when paired with our oatmeal coloured flooring clashed like rival teams on
a football field.
We lived with our shame for six years before we sold.
So how do you choose the perfect white for your home?
Some people like to apply the gameshow approach to colour selection:
50 / 50
Survey the Audience
Phone a Friend
50 / 50 involves stealth – grabbing every colour square from the tower of samples and working
through them as if you were having an eye test at the optometrist. In pairs of two samples you force
yourself to make a choice ‘Do I like the first, or second?’ Continually playing each sample off against
one another until you whittle it down to one. Time consuming, and by the end, all of the whites look
Survey the Audience – this is the popular choice of members of renovation groups on social media.
The contestant posts three or four photos of their colour options and asks people to vote. But do
you know your audience? For all you know, the voters might be the kinds of people who would pair
a grey white with oatmeal toned flooring. Then there is the issue of viewing the colours on a screen.
Have you ever been into a large electronics store with the televisions lined up on display and the
same program playing? Do they all look the same? Are the picture quality and display colours
identical? Probably not – we are all looking at the same colour, but how they appear on screen
could be quite different.
Phone a Friend – ok, reassurance can be a good thing, but do you really want their opinion (and will
they be honest) or do you just want someone to pat you on the back and tell you you’ve made the
right decision? Unless your friend is an interior designer, or has exceptional taste, you might end up
with a colour you’re not happy with just to preserve your friendship.
How to avoid Painter’s Remorse:
If you’re in the market for whites, there is plenty of inspiration available on line. Instagram,
Pinterest, Facebook, are a renovators or builder’s delight. Find pictures that resonate with you in
terms of your style and don’t be afraid to contact the author to ask what paint colours and brands
With this information in hand you can contact The Big Paint Sample and have your large format,
reusable colour samples delivered straight to your door. You can compare them to each other in
multiple rooms, under different lights, and even roll them up and take them with you when you
select your flooring, tiles, and window coverings – peace of mind that you’ve made the right
decision, and you can live in harmony with your selection for years to come.