When you pick the wrong paint color ...

9 years ago

... how long do you wait until you call the painters back in?

What's your tolerance level for just living with it? How long before you stop feeling guilty for redoing it -- perhaps even a few times?

And do you start all over, finding additional paint samples?

I had my bedroom painted BM Blue Denim a few months ago, and it's not as appealing to me as the 12x14 or so canvas I tested the paint sample on and "lived with" in different places in the room and varied sunlight levels. Hey, it looked great there, but it's just too much, a bit overpowering. I'm living with it for now--just the thought of having to move the bulky, heavy bedroom furniture makes me ill!

What are your tolerance/guilt/determined-to-find-the-right- color levels?

(And for the really brave folks who've been in this situation, maybe you'd share how many times you've repainted the SAME space! Just looking for a little levity through that part!)

Comments (24)

  • Happyladi
    9 years ago

    Many years ago I painted my living room, den, hall, and entry yellow. Yellow is a tricky color and I didn't like it, it had a strange greenish cast to it. I lived with it for just 2 months and repainted everything.

    When I started repainting I realized I didn't like the new color and had it adjusted after painting just one small wall. It took me all day from early in the morning until evening to repaint.

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  • mjsee
    9 years ago

    I usually do my own a month. If I don't like it after a month I'm NEVER going to like it.

  • jenes
    9 years ago

    Since you don't mention the expense as being an issue (and you mention hiring painters), I would go ahead and redo it. I would feel a little guilty, too, since I would feel like I was throwing out something new in a sense, but I know that the painters in my area are really hurting for business, so think of it as doing your share to help out independent business people during these difficult times.

  • roarah
    9 years ago

    I almost never like the color at first... never seems to live up to my expectations of the sample. If I still do not care for it after a few weeks I always change it. But a lot of the time after a few days to week I end up liking the color I initially did not care for. I would say that if you do not like it after a few months than you will never like it. So If you can afford to hire out again do so and if you can not afford to hire out it is not hard to paint yourself:)

  • colorblind1961
    9 years ago

    I made a HUGE mistake in choosing Bungalow Gold for my vaulted FR - when the painters were done, I cried - it looked like a giant gold stick of butter! They were back literally the next day painting over it with "Caramel" - a much better suited color for my very sunlit FR. Cost me quite a bit, but I could not live with it even for one day.

  • IdaClaire
    9 years ago

    Well, let's see ... I'm currently in the process of repainting my dining room. For the third - no, make that fourth - time. Not that I didn't like three of the colors I chose, but just decided I needed a change after living with them for awhile. The fourth time, though, I'd managed to get half the room done and then admitted that I didn't like the color (same as used in other rooms of the house) in the dining room at all. After making that admission to myself, I had a new color the very next day and was covering up the old. This may sound strange, but I actually feel a bit physically ill when a paint color in my home isn't right. All the more reason for me to correct things as quickly as possible! Look at it this way - it's a courageous act to admit that you've made a mistake, and taking steps to fix things will help you feel that you're righting a wrong. :-)

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya
    9 years ago

    This is why I don't like the phrase "it's just paint". It's not just paint.

    The good thing from this experience is that you've honed your expectations and tolerances more than they were before. Focus on what living with the wrong color has taught you and how much better prepared you are to go pick a new color. Because you are in a better position now than you were when you chose BM Blue Denim.

    It will be simpler the second time around. Moving the furniture is a pain, but I bet you figured out the BEST place to put the furniture while you paint so you'll only have to move it once. You've already prepped the walls so it's just a matter of rolling on new color. Probably still have tools and supplies ready to go.

    Thinking about a repaint is often worse than actually doing it. My guess is you'll get started and get into and think "oh, this isn't that bad". Even so, that's not the same as flippantly saying "it's just paint"! lol! :~D

  • beekeeperswife
    9 years ago

    hahahahah, you must be talking to me, right?

    It takes me about 1 minute after the paint is dry (I do let it dry) to make that decision. That blue in my bathroom kind of made me feel nauseous. (see auntjen--me too) I knew it wasn't staying. I just had to figure out what to do. Just painting it over with the primer made me feel better.

    If you don't like it, you don't like it. I find it very hard to have someone say "it will grow on you".

    When I had the living room painted that Wasabi, it was a bit scary. I just kept telling myself and dh, if we don't like it, it's no big deal for us to repaint it. Luckily that turned out as well as it did.

    So, to answer your question, how long does it take to know? The answer is "as long as it takes the paint to dry".

  • Carol_from_ny
    9 years ago

    I've found over the years that if I liked the paint before I put it up and then hated it afterwards the culprit wasn't always the paint but sometimes the way the room was put back together.
    If the paint is light enough I might try putting a glaze on it to tone it down or use another paint technique to change the the look. Another alternative is to only repaint three of the four walls preferably leaving the biggest amount of wall space and repainting the three smaller walls in the room.
    I do all my own painting and after all the different houses we have lived in that I have single handedly painted and that I have helped paint I can pretty much tell by the end of the first wall if it's going to work or not. When I do make a mistake I try and go for the fix that will make me the happiest without busting the budget.

  • Sophie Ingerslew
    9 years ago


    I just painted my kitchen a green I do not love. I don't know what I was thinking, my kitchen is french country and I should have gone for a gold color.... Anyway, it took me a few days to decide I do not love it. The thing is I already had the BM store owner come for a color consult ($75) and I didn't love the color she chose either. I am thinking of hiring a professional decorator for this. I actually found one in my area through the Color Me Happy Blog and asked her for an estimate. She quoted me $300 for the whole house, which I finde expensive, but I am desperate. I can choose color, but I am struggling with the lack of natural light in my home. Anyway, that means I have to live with this mistake for a few months until I can save my pennies. Again, I don't love the color, but it looks better painted than not so I'll live with it until the end of summer (hopefully).

  • htnspz
    9 years ago

    I know by one wall into painting that I hate a color. I start off thinking it's okay if it survives the room. Then, I give it a few days to see how it mingles with the light and then if it passes, it qualifies for "liking it". I love the color if I walk into the room and find I love the color it makes when it mingles with the sunlight. I love it, if I look at it and I'm not sure what color it is, because it's so multidimensional.

  • blubird
    9 years ago

    Close to 8 years ago I had painted my kitchen with a green that I had used and love in an upstairs bedroom. I hated it in my kitchen - it had too much blue as an undertone - which, of course, my husband could not see. When I had my kitchen redone last summer I repainted it with my living room green - which had a yellow undertone (again, my husband could never see the difference). To me, however, it's a world of difference and it absolutely affects my mood in the kitchen.

    My husband and I literally do not see 'eye to eye' with regard to color. We've discovered that color perception may be related to eye color - he's got blue eyes; mine are brown.


  • beachlily z9a
    9 years ago

    The painter was here the entire month of May. One person painting ceilings, doors, walls. Everything! The only color I want to lose is the kitchen. Light orange doesn't do it when I want a yellow. My husband has told me twice in the last two days, just have it redone. I haven't thrown a fit, just stated that I would prefer a different color. Light yellow or gold. We'll see. The painter gets back in town in mid July. By then, I'll have the color picked out. I think.

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya
    9 years ago

    Eye color - not so much I'd say Gender absolutely.

    Far more men have significant degrees of color vision deficiencies than women do. In fact, women see an extra wavelength of red that men do not.

    We have something else to consider. We are all TRIchromats. This means we see color three-dimensionally. Broken down further we see color three dimensionally not because of two eyeballs and one brain, rather we can see color from two points of view at the same time. (This is why I am always bashing theories from fine arts. Like the whole use a color wheel to construct color schemes for your house horseh1t. Fine arts is a two-dimensional color world and everything it knows and how it applies what it knows does not translate or apply *seamlessly* to three-dimensional architectural color. A degree in fine arts does not make you an architectural color expert by default.)

    There is growing confidence in scientific communities that there are TETRAchromats. Tetrachromatic means you see color from an added, extra cone cell. One study suggested that 2 - 3% of the world's women might have the kind of fourth cone that lies between the standard red and green cones, giving, theoretically, a significant increase in color differentiation. (From Wiki)

    No way of knowing. No way of measuring. However, one has to suspect why - or more accurately perhaps HOW - so many in the population have become more aware and keen to color in their environments. Particularly women.

    The consumer of color is more savvy and informed than ever before -- the fundamental understanding and depth of relationship to color has changed. Could even say it has evolved.

    Are there tetrachromats among us right now? Is the reason why one person is more sensitive to color characteristics and the slightest difference in nuance due to where humankind is on a timeline of evolution? Are all of us -right now- standing on the edge of what is next for humanity and how we will be able to interpret our environs? Are the heightened color vision/sensitivities in women leading the way?

    If ya ask me based on the incredible range of tolerances and acuity I've witnessed over the years, I'd say plausible.

  • flyingflower
    9 years ago

    That's one reason why I do all my own painting, lol. I painted this home office and hated the color so much I repainted it again a week later. Most of my repaints are do to mishaps like the time I just finished painting and as I was cleaning up I tripped and fell against the wall! Another time I painted the kitchen ceiling which is a huge ordeal because you have to tape and plastic all the cabinets. After I removed the plastic and breathed a sigh of relief the chore was finally done I looked up and saw a bubble. I touched it and it popped and peeled. It was a disaster. Had to tape and plastic the entire kitchen all over again and repaint.

    When I make a mistake I have to fix it. I usually know right away it's not going to work and I better not waste time trying to talk myself into liking something I'll never like. It will only nag at me until I do.

    Designers do say to live with anything new for 3 days before deciding you want to get rid of it. That's because sometimes what you think you hate is just shock seeing it done differently. Give yourself time to get used to it and if you still don't then bite the bullet and do it over. For me it's worth it because decor matters to me. DH never wants me redo anything, that man will live with any mistake no matter how awful because he's thinking with is wallet and I'm thinking with my emotions. I usually win out because I won't stop talking about how much it bothers me. BTW...this doesn't just happen with paint. I had our entire granite backsplash knocked out the day after it was installed. When I shook DH awake at 6am crying "I CAN'T LIVE WITH IT!!!" he buckled and said OK OK just let me sleep! I love my travertine backsplash. ;-)

  • grumpydave
    9 years ago

    In my previous house I painted my living room seven times back to back to back. I was never entirely happy with the seventh choice but I decided to stop the misery and live with it anyway.

    BUT! One important thing I learned painting all the rooms in that house is to NEVER judge the paint color until you've removed the blue painter's tape. Several times I was disappointed with a color at first but when I removed the distracting bright blue tape it suddenly came together. It also helps to get at least some of your furniture or decorations in place too.

    I think there were one or two colors in the middle of my living room job I could have been happy with if I'd only given them a chance.

  • memazz
    9 years ago

    We had our living room painted green after doing a lot of remodeling. I didn't like the green from the time the painters were putting it on the walls but tried to give it time. We eventually repainted it a beautiful soft cream color but it took a couple of years to bite the bullet and do it. Plus, I was gun shy after the green mistake and was nervous about selecting a new color. The funny thing is now when I look at pictures of the room when it was green it actually looks good (and everyone else liked it at the time) but when I was in the room I just really disliked the color. In retrospect I would change the color much sooner (a month or so) because that green paint became my focus for all that was wrong with the room and I stalled out on doing more decorating because of it.

  • ellendi
    9 years ago

    Color is so difficult. We painted our bedroom twice and my daugter's room twice. For me, there is no "just live with it." I know it feels wrong from the get go. Since we are not the type to change our paint often, my DH knows that when the "right" color is up, it will be for years. And, I will like it for years.
    I have a favorite living room paint, BM205. Each time we have painted we use it and I still love it. We have BM Shaker Beige in the foyer and hall. I love it and will continue to use it here and any other place in the future.

  • katrina_ellen
    9 years ago

    It depends how bad it is. I moved into a house last year and immediately repainted the kitchen an off-white. I thought it would lighten and brighten up the room - instead it just looked dingy. I had to repaint that about 3 months later. The bedroom looked like a cave when I moved in - burgundy cave - I didn't know what to do in the room so painted it off-white. Well, again it looked blah. I repainted about 6 months later. I can wait a while because I don't have that much time to do it in, but if I did have more time it probably wouldn't even take me that long. I have gone years not repainting a room and don't like it the whole time - its not worth it.

  • Saypoint 7a CT
    9 years ago

    I am also very uncomfortable when a paint color is not right. I've been doing my own repairs and painting my whole life, so repainting is just the cost of the paint and the time/energy to do the work. I have in the past repainted the same room 4 times within a month or so trying to get the right effect. I have repainted a kitchen 2 different colors in one weekend, and a third color within the week. Cured paint? What's that? LOL

    Every time I make a mistake, I learn something. I just repainted my bedroom 3 times over the past few weeks. The first two colors were actually quite beautiful, but they weren't what I had in my head for the room. I kept tweaking it until I finally got it right the third time. Now I have to repaint the master bath in the same color, and do all of the woodwork in white cloud.

    I've also found a color I loved, and used it in three different houses. BM234 was in my LR in NC, my foyer in VA, and again in my LR in CT. I also used the same green BM Tree Moss (503 I think) in the master bedroom in one house, and again in the laundry and foyer in my current house, but I think i may repaint (it's been 9 years) with the bedroom color I just discovered, BM1570 Gray Mist. It's a gorgeous soft grayed blue green. My husband thinks it's blue, I think it's green, we're both happy.
    The only thing that has stopped me from immediately fixing a bad color choice is lack of time and/or energy to do it over.
    I recently went into one of the local paint shops, and they had three pallets of "oops" paints they were trying to unload. I sometimes feel like I have more leftover cans of mistakes than the paint store has. I'm going to put some out at the tag sale this summer, and then donate the rest to the high school drama club for scenery painting.

  • franksmom_2010
    9 years ago

    What always intrigues me, is WHY do we choose the "wrong" paint? Is it that you just chose a color because it was popular or recommended, and you never really loved it to begin with? Didn't paint up sample boards to see a larger swatch of it? Chose a different sheen, so the color translates differently? The effect of having the color magnified on all four walls made it too much, or changed the effect of the undertones?

    My paint choices for walls has always been pretty limited (I'm a white and beige kind of girl) so delving into using actual colors on the walls just fascinates me. And it's a bit frightening, as well. We've never had so many choices!

    I'm planning to paint the dining room a very soft taupe color, and just narrowing down that has been an adventure. I don't want too much or too little contrast with the other things in the room, and I don't want the walls to scream out "COLOR" but I do want to differentiate the space, make it feel a little warmer, and give a backdrop that will make the furniture and accessories come to life. I don't want it to read yellow, pink, or gawd forbid, green. I thought I had found the perfect color, and my Mom came over and saw the sample boards and said "You're painting the walls gray?!" Back to square one!

  • susanlynn2012
    9 years ago


    I hired a painter and tried paint samples and nailed it right with the BM Bone white that I love in every room of my house. I even repainted the home office from BM Linen White (was way to yellow with the fluorescent lamps in my office) since the BM Bone white is so neutral and calming to my eyes and goes great with white trim.

    I did not like the Ralph Lauren Deep cream in my three bathrooms and Master Bedroom but I added accessories and soft white sheers over the Honeycomb blinds that I ordered too dark and now I like the bedroom's blinds and walls. However due to the lighting in the bathroom and the bone skins, tub and toilet, I hated the Deep Cream that appears so lemony screaming at me. I finally had it repainted a month later to BM Navajo White that is less lemony and a touch darker and goes better but the painter did a bad job and there are running marks down the wall as he rushed to do the job with another job that afternoon and put the second coat on before the first coat dried. I have been living with this mistake for a few years but glad at least the color does not get on my nerves. I am going to have it repainted either BM Bone White or maybe BM Muslim. When I have time, I will try paint samples. I wish I could paint the Master Bathroom myself but the ceiling is too high.

    I may repaint the powder room and the middle full bathroom one day myself but I am still doing hand therapy since I fell in January and my thumb and elbow are not recovering that quickly. Thank goodness I don't have carpel tunnel syndrome and can type well but my thumb has a lot of pain and I can't lift it and my elbow's pain is still bad. I was diagnosed with thumb tendinitis and elbow tendinitis and the hand therapist thinks I also have some nerve damage on my arm. She is wonderful and helping me. So one day when I am doing better, I will see if I can repaint those two rooms myself but I can live with the colors in those two rooms since I am not in them much.

    I painted a spare room BM Philadelphia Cream and it is too yellow for me but not as bad as that Deep cream was in my Master Bathroom (which amazingly is not bad in the bedroom due to the furnishings, lighting and accessories.... I don't mind the color at all there)but since I am not in that room that much, I can live with it.

    I would live with the color for a few more days and if it is too much, since it is your bedroom and you need to be at peace when you sleep, I would repaint it. Paint is so difficult to choose.

  • jhendler
    4 days ago

    OMG, I am so grateful for this thread. I've had these experiences and am in the middle of one right now. But I always feel ashamed that I struggle so much and redo the paint. It's so good to know that I'm not alone!