Thursday, 17 May 2012

rambling about rules

standardColorantHave you ever been in the paint store and fallen in love with the “perfect” colour? You know, the wonderful colour you found on that little paint chip nestled next to similar lighter or darker hues on a piece of paper, tucked into a rainbow display of lovely colour options all lit from above by bright and shining florescent lights? The colour you knew, without a doubt, was perfect for your living room because it went so well with your favourite chair, newly reupholstered in that absolutely fabulous ikat fabric you hunted forever for? In fact you were so sure about the colour – it fit your plans for the space to a tee – that you had the emulsion mixologist whip up a whole gallon for you to take home! You were so sure of this colour that on your way home from the paint store you berated yourself for not buying a second gallon because you knew that one wouldn’t be enough to cover all the walls twice. Do you remember your reaction when you rolled that first section of wall? I know what you said to yourself. “I’ll paint corner to corner and let it dry. It’ll look better then.” Only it didn’t.

Tell me this scenario doesn’t sound just a wee bit familiar?!

Answer me this. What’s the #2 thing you should do when trying out a new paint colour? If you answered “Get a sample pot and try it at home!” you’d be absolutely right. What’s the #1 thing you ask? Why bringing a sample of your upholstery fabric (drapery/pillow/duvet fabric, tile, counter top, cabinetry, rug, other room colours, etc.) with you to the paint store to compare with the paint colour options of course!   ;-)

As an interior design consultant I’ve specked colours for a few rooms and each time I do I have something from the room to guide me… and if possible, I buy a sample pot of the colour to try on a wall (especially if the colour is one I haven’t used before).

So what did I do this last weekend? I went shopping for stain so I could bring colour to my new outdoor room. Specifically, deck and fence stain. And I bought the colours I wanted based solely on HOW I INVISIONED THE SPACE TO LOOK WHEN IT WAS COMPLETED.

2012-05-08 10.22.10

Nothing planned. Nothing to guide me in my choices. Just my imagination. My “vision”!!


Actually… I lucked out: 3 of my 4 purchases were perfect so I have a 75% success rate! :-)

But this is a story about lessons learned… first though, an ORANGE interlude!


The first stain choice was easy. Our deck is cedar and I wanted a natural cedar colour. Considering that Behr carries a colour called “Cedar Naturaltone”, there was NO WAY I could go wrong!! I stained our deck-bench (you’re asked to politely ignore the un-stained sections of wood please and thank you {smiley face!}) this wonderful colour…

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My absolute favourite colour is orange so you can imagine how much I love this result!!

My 2 other successes were for the shed. It’s stained in colours to match the house ~ a dark sage green with black trim (you’ll find a peak below). Again… easy peasy choices!!

So where was my error? In the fence stain colour :-(

2012-05-15 19.17.45Because the deck comprises a major portion of the back yard, and because the deck will be a fabulous orange, I didn’t want the fence colour to compete with the deck and if possible, I wanted the fence to recede visually.

The colour I imagined was gray. And this is what I bought…

If you know your grays you know all about undertone. Yep. This undertone is blue. It didn’t look like that under the fluorescent lights!! At least that’s what I’m telling myself :-/

So off to the store I go to source out a different colour, bringing home a SAMPLE (yay!!) brown that said it was gray like a castle. Nope. Then, desperate to make my gallon of bluey gray work, I combined equal amounts of 2012-05-15 19.17.36the “castle” brown and the too blue gray and came up with… MUD!

Here’s a photo showing you how bad the three stain colours look next to the cedar orange.

Feeling a bit hopeless, I went back to the store one more time and stared at all the samples again. And stared. How I wish they could move around so that I could compare them with one another more easily!!!

This time I had 2 stained cedar samples  in my hands– deck orange and shed sage. Yes, rule #1!!

Like a good girl I left with a sample (rule #2!) of “Glenn Green”, a light gray with a green undertone.

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Just as I’d imagined!! LOL!!

NOW I can go to the store and pick up a fiver (five gallon bucket).

And break my back staining the whole darned fence!!! Whose idea was all this staining?! Geesh!






So now for the fun of it, two photos…

First, how my deck is looking today:

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It’s slowly getting finished, and the current weather has been great so that helps! All the railing posts are stained (railing itself is only installed [so far] up around the parking pad) as are the stairs you see straight ahead and – as I showed you earlier in this post – the bench is also stained. I hope to stain the deck within the week! This particular view shows you the size of the deck, the new fence stain sample and how it coordinates with the house behind us. Like I said… perfect!!

Second… our sweet little cedar shed!!

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This is where most of my staining energy has gone over the last couple days. As you can see, I”m not quite finished. The doors will be stained cedar orange and the Zs on each door in trim black.

And the little window? It’s one of the 70+ year old sash windows from our house. I’ve been saving this window in the attic for something… and once I saw this empty spot on the shed I knew exactly how I wanted to use it!! Tomorrow I’ll be planting some flowers in a window box and Brian will hang the box below our real/faux window… it’ll look so charming!!! I promise to show you a pic of the shed when it and the deck are all finished :-)

Another uber-long post from…


Have a great day!!! Smile


  1. It's so hard to stick to the rules sometimes, but great results! I love the shed doors, they are perfect!

  2. Wow, that is your backyard?? What a transformation!!! You should show before photos!!
    Yes, I always get samples after making that mistake once too! Or get the large paint sample chips.

    Love it all V!

  3. I love stain! It makes the wood look so gorgeous rather than painting it :)

  4. Your deck is going to be beautiful when fully completed as will your fence. I did like the blue undertones in the first grey your tried but I know it's not what you wanted. Good colour for me to keep in mind though. Can't wait to see that shed finished. The black *Z's* are going to be striking. Love the window frame you hung too.

  5. Fabulous Victoria! I love all the colours you are picking and it's turning into such a beautiful space. I just picked up a gallon of stain to stain the cedar screens in my backyard yesterday. I did bring a piece of decking with me to help me choose so I guess I passed Rule #1 ;-)

  6. It's looking just awesome! Seriously. I can't wait to see the finale :-)

  7. Victoria,

    What a great project and timely for some I'm sure. I just love getting things checked off my to do lists! So many of our projects take a process to complete and if we'd just keep the recipe handy it works in other areas as well. Good job!


  8. Looooooking gooooooooood Victoria!

    Last big outdoor staining project I did was for my daughter a number of years ago which was a brand new fence. She unfortunately never thought of paying extra for galvanized screws etc. as after the winter she ended up with rust stains throughout the natural unfinished fence. Mother to the rescue who was told by a number of experts the stains could be sanded out ..... HA you got to be kidding! Long story short -- Application of Zinners Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer over the stains topped with an opague Stain that solved the problem. Lesson learned by daughter! -Brenda-