Spring fever made me go a little nuts on Sunday. I bought some paint samples and started splashing them all over my kitchen walls.


"What are you doing!" my teenage son said in alarm. "Now you have to paint the whole thing."

"Exactly!" I said.

The kitchen walls have been bugging me for a long time. They're beat up and grimy, thanks to years of him and his friends putting dirty hands on them and bumping trucks and Xboxes into them.

But they're also the wrong color. They used to look white. But after I replaced my kitchen countertops a couple years ago, the walls took on a cold, greenish cast that fought with the warm, earthy tones of the countertops.

My walls now needed a richer, warmer tone, I decided. So I went to the paint store, picked out three colors and gave them a test drive on my walls. All of them looked terrible. One looked dirty, another too blinding white, the third somehow turned pink once it was applied.

For inspiration, I headed out to the Parade of Homes, where I saw an awful lot of gray and taupe and taupey-gray paint colors. Maybe that's the direction I should go, I decided. So I went back to the paint store and picked out two more paint samples -- a pale warm gray and a soft taupe.  

They looked even worse on my walls. "Purple? Are you kidding?" My husband asked.

"Don't worry. No purple," I assured him.

But I admit I'm now stumped. I like all the interesting whites, grays, off-whites and browns that are currently popular. But picking the right one apparently requires professional help -- or going through a whole lot of samples. 

Designers sometimes call these colors "complex neutrals" or "chameleon colors" because they shift and change based on light sources and surrounding colors. That's an understatement!

How do you choose paint colors? Is it a struggle, or do you have a good eye for what will work in your space?