In search of the perfect red


I’m on quest, daggumit.  And don’t even think of getting in my way or asking me to compromise.  I want what I want and I want it NOW.

As I explained in a previous post, I’ve decided to paint my office red.  And you would think finding a red I would be happy with shouldn’t be all that difficult. I mean, hardware and paint stores are filled with color samples, and when all else fails they have that handy dandy computer that, in theory, can match anything.  So finding the right color shouldn’t turn into a grail-like search.  But it has.  I am a woman obsessed.

I see red wherever I go.  I wasn’t even aware of how prevalent the color red is in my home, on signs, products, clothing, etc.   Nice deep reds, bold reds. Before this quest a red was a red was a red.  But now?  Now I can see the slight variations in the undertones.  My first trial of red had a smidge of yellow in it.  Too orange.  The next had a touch of black in it.  Too dark.  I scoured the hardware and paint stores, still nothing satisfied my craving for the perfect red.

Finally I found my perfect red.  It was the background of a sticker I got at Wordcamp, maybe an inch in diameter, but with a big white “W” on it.  So, last night I took my little sample to an Orchard Supply Hardware to see if they could match it.  I have to give the guy credit, he tried and he tried and he tried, but in the end he chalked it up to my sample being too shiny.  Meanwhile, I’ve noticed how much red there is in that hardware store – packaging,  plastic storage boxes, hardware do-dads, etc.  I started madly wandering up and down the aisles with my little red sticker putting it up to anything red to see if it is a match. “M’am. M’am?!  I need a piece of paper to do the matching, I can’t match a plastic storage box . . . m’am?”  I left the store unsatisfied, but still determined to get the color I wanted.

This morning I started wandering around my house with the little WordPress sticker comparing my sticker to book jackets, magazines, greeting cards, posters, the rabbit.  Until finally, I lost the sticker.  In my frenzy, I misplaced it.  Yet, that wasn’t a bad thing, now I could free up my mind a bit to look for new inspiration.  And finally I found it.  The cover to Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right“, now that was a bright, bold red.  Maybe with a slight magenta undertone. Not a hint of yellow.

Armed with my book jacket, I went to Kelly-Moore paint store.  I was so proud of myself.  When it was finally my turn I thrust my sample at him and said “I want this!”  He looked at the sample and then looked at me. Again, he looked at the sample and then gave me a good long look. “You’re not joking, are you?”  “Nope.  Is there a problem?”  He asked me when I needed it, and of course I told him “today . . . now”.   He explained that the custom color guy didn’t work on the weekends and this would be a job for him, but he knew the manager Jose enjoyed a challenge so he called him in on it.  By this time a couple of professional painters had gathered and were eager to see what Jose would be able to come up with.   Jose said it would take a while to figure this out, but he’d do his best.

I gotta give Jose credit when I came back from running an errand he had a couple of samples ready for me.  Like me, he had become determined to meet this challenge.  We went back and forth a couple of times before he got it close enough.  It’s not an exact match.  House paints do not have the same range of color options as printer’s colors.  Which makes sense.

Maybe the perfect red is not meant to be on my walls, but I think I can find a good red enough red.  A red that will wake me up and get the creative juices flowing.  I’ve got two choices now, so I just need to choose. The boyfriend wants to paint this weekend, so I just need to choose.


19 responses »

  1. I’ve done this. Not with wall paint but with nail polish. I love one color of red and no other red will do. Unfortunately, not all nail salons have the brand that makes my color red. So when I go in one of those salons, I have to look at every color red on the shelf (usually at least 100) and but it next to my skin, next to the light, next to that other lamp over in the corner of the salon, next to my face in the mirror, and every place you can think of. I end up selecting the closest shade but am usually quite unhappy with the result. Upsetting to know in your mind what you want and not be able to get it in physical form!

    I hope you make the right decision because I’m sure you’ll have to live with it for a while! Luck!!!

  2. Woot! Glad you found one. I was rather lucky to find the red I put on my stairway wall after just the second try. But, I know your quest very well!!

    Have fun – I actually enjoy painting 🙂

  3. I can empathize with your search for the perfect paint color.

    I like the red on Lies and, etc. (I have the book so I was able to go look at it live and in person rather than on my monitor.) It’s an energetic, speedy kind of color. A color that will fire you up.

    Mind if I come over and help you paint? Like Christina, I enjoy painting. 🙂

  4. There is nothing like the sweet smell of victory. Getting a project started can be one of the most daunting tasks. We ourselves at the Casa de Animals a’ Plenty had our own victory this weekend with instalation of our new range.

    So get some paint, get moving and get the creativity flowing

  5. roja seniorita

    bye now u have probably real eyezed that the color on the sample is lighter than the ax you yewel paint iz eh ?

    if ya ain’t painted yet (gallonz or qwartz?) you kin get a tube of magenta from yerart store and squeeze a bit into a small sample and sea if dat dont make it more perfecterer. also every coat ya putzon will deepend (slightly) the hue

  6. this reminds me of a test I once had to do as part of a watercolour botancial painting course.

    Our teacher put a can of Coca Cola on a table in front of us and said “Okay, you’ve all seen this Coca Cola red before, you see it all the time. So study the colour of this can and remember it”.

    Then she took the can away and gave us all 10 minutes to mix our Coca Cola red and paint a 4″ square piece of paper. Then we wrote our names on the back and placed them next to the can to see which was closest.

    There were 10 people in the class – 10 professional and semi-professional artists – and there were 10 TOTALLY different reds on those pieces of paper.


  7. Update: The red is on the walls, and I LOVE it! Is is my “perfect red” from the sticker or the cover? I don’t know. But, on my walls, this is the perfect red.

    The whole room transformation isn’t finished yet. The ugly closet doors are still there as is an ugly light fixture. Oh yeah, and I need a new desk. But, hey, my office is a fabulous shade of red. What a difference a couple of coats of paint can make.

    TMC – Huzzah! Right back atcha.

    BQ – I’m almost kind of sad I didn’t take a “before” shot of my depressing ugly office, but I was kind of embarrassed it. Once I finish the transformation, I will proudly share pics.

    Corina – It’s funny you mention nail polish because when I was commiserating my friend Annie about not being able to find an adequate sample of the color I wanted, she suggested I go and see if I can’t find a match in a nail polish, and then paint a sample card with that. If I hadn’t found the book cover, my next trip probably was to a beauty supply store.

    Christina – It would have been nice to have someone sane helping me. As it was, the boyfriend was very thorough and efficient and drove me NUTS. We worked very differently. Plus, I have a low tolerance for chaos, so I was feeling stressed.

    Robin – Perhaps I’ll invite you and Christina to come over when I paint my bedroom. 🙂

    Adam – Yeah, it is getting the project started that is the most challenging part. Once we tore this room apart, now it is a blank slate and everything else will probably flow a lot more smoothly. Congrats on the new range.

    BB Golly – Next time you’re in the neighb, I have a couple more quarts of paint for ya. Oh, and by the way, I think one of your paintings would probably look fabulous in this room. hint hint

    Truce – Color is an amazing thing, isn’t it. This experience is really opening my eyes to the slight variations in color. Never again will a red be a red be a red.

  8. I think BBG might be on to something… nice title!
    So i’ve been getting inspiration for NaNoWriMo a different way. I wait till The Deistette is asleep and while I’m laying in bed I’ve been turning my theme over and over in my head.

    It’s starting to gel a little.

    (The Deist’s stomach turns a little at the thought)

  9. I had the same problem finding the exact shade of green I wanted for my bedroom. I didn’t actually get the color I wanted, so I just gave up and decided that the color I ended up with is close enough. It still annoys me, though.

  10. What kind of closet doors do you have? I solved my problem of ugly sliding closet doors by taking them out and using a tension rod with fabric shower curtains. Easy to change when you need a different look!

  11. BB Golly – Yeah, that is a good title. I don’t think I can use it this time around, but perhaps

    Jules – will. Ne stress pas, mon petit Jules. Have fun with it. I started out gangbusters a couple weeks back with my story idea, but all I have right now is a well fleshed out main character. The others? Not so much.

    David – Sorry to hear the green didn’t work out for you. People kept telling me if this red didn’t work out, I could always paint over it. But, this painting project was stressful enough the first time, who in the hell wants to do that again?

    Corina – They are sliding doors, so yes, the idea of simply putting curtains over them is the option I’m looking at right now. In addition to being an easy and cheap solution, I can also bring yet more color into the room.

    Anonymoussy – Actually, yesterday someone accused me of being a tad manic. Hey, just because I was perky in the morning, doesn’t mean I’m manic. But, I definitely went into the office fired up. Hard to say if it was because of my new firey office color, or if my excitement about finding an actual Medi-Cal liaison to work with just got the better of me.

  12. I want to see the red, too. Red is bold. I love it but not so my huzeband. I painted a wall red, not a big wall, but we couldn’t both live with it. Lately I am into calming blues and greens. Boring but somehow soothing.

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