This is one reason people like shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s not because we can’t get enough of the Cookie Butter (well, maybe that’s part of it), it’s because when we walk into Trader Joe’s we don’t have to wonder if a better deal on some lesser brand of spreadable cookie is one shelf down, because it isn’t — there’s just their Cookie Butter. “It’s not torture to buy your groceries” at Trader Joe’s, Dr. Schwartz said.
Do you know what is torture? Picking out paint color.
Not only do you have to choose a general color — teal! — you then have to zero in on infinite variables, sifting through Photoshopped images to figure out what would actually work in your real-life home. Will the undertones make the room look green? What about the lighting? The furniture? Type “Teal Paint” into Pinterest and the results send you swirling to walls, furniture, swatches and a teal-painted sign that says “Just Relax.”
With 3,500 colors by Benjamin Moore alone, where do you even begin? The experts say your search shouldn’t start with the color wheel. Instead, you should “seek inspiration,” said Benjamin Moore color and design expert Andrea Magno. “Start by grabbing anything that appeals to you — anything that makes you stop for more than a couple seconds.”
Once you’re inspired, then set out to find that hue. Color descriptions, much like those for bottles of wine, are basically word salad. Consider Hale Navy, a color I chose for the inside of my front door. As Benjamin Moore describes it, “this deeply saturated shade of navy blue evokes rich maritime traditions and storied exploits at sea.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the color, but what does that description even mean? I rarely look at my front door and think, “Moby Dick.” Instead, I usually think: Should I have gone with Gentleman’s Gray instead?
“Those choices that people are making on the internet can look pretty dull in real life,” said Eve Ashcraft, a Manhattan color specialist and the author of “The Right Color.” Sure, it can help guide you, but “it doesn’t allow you to pick the right color for the wall.”
Online brands have caught on to this conundrum and are starting to do the choosing for us. They call it “curated.” Rather than stare at a wall of overpriced eyeglass frames, you can buy the ones Warby Parker sells and assume you’ll look good enough. The same goes for mattresses, suitcases, razors and makeup.
So why not paint, too? Consider Clare and Backdrop, two online paint brands that started last year and are betting that we’ll tire of the quest for the perfect color and accept the roughly 50 they’ve selected for us. Want white? Clare offers four. Backdrop, five. The names are clever and the descriptions pointed. Backdrop has a red called “Lipstick on the Mirror” and Clare offers a “Matcha Latte” green.