Who Did it Best?

Remember paint by numbers? It made the process of creating something beautiful, easy. At least those kits made my five year old self feel pretty artistic. Painting a wall should be less challenging, and yet it’s not. We have sheens to contend with, shadows, and a whole lot of doubt that it will turn out the way it looks on the swatch deck or in the photo of a favorite issue of House Beautiful. Add to that the cost of paint and one’s desire to save a few dollars on the gallons that will grace those walls and you’ve added a whole other layer of complication.

I’ve tried and failed to match a Farrow & Ball to a Ben Moore in the past. It led this weekend to a debate about whether or not it was possible to get an accurate match from the store. It was too nice out to argue, but it did leave me thinking, is it really achievable? My research led to me a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. Yes, and No.

Formulas are the result of years of research, and deliver colors that are trademarked with aspects that are kept hidden from even those on the dark web. Most tools used, like databases, compiled over years, and spectrometers are only about 90% accurate. This can be attributed to a lack of patience – understandable – who wants to wait 24 hours or more to ensure the paint is fully cured and the color is true, only to discover it’s not and to begin the process anew – a lack of consistency in finishes from maker to maker which impacts the reflectiveness of the paint, and for lack of a clearer answer to why it can’t be matched – each maker utilizes that “je ne sais quoi”? That unknown quality. Maybe it’s spit?

As I prepare to head down to the hardware store to mix another round or two, I go with the knowledge that I am likely not going to be walking away with my Parma Gray by F & B look alike, so I better get liking something that is close enough. The builder is waiting for my paint name, and if I don’t provide it today, I will lose my place in the cue, and we all know, that won’t due.

Bespoke on a Budget

I haven’t met a house, apartment, condo or garden shed that I haven’t wanted to change. The desire for personalization isn’t relegated to dwellings either. A dress, pair of slacks, or halter – would be so much more flattering in a blue-violet, two inches longer or shorter, nipped at the waist. That chair, you know the one, that you avoid sitting in because your feet don’t quite reach the floor. Could all be made better, if they were made for you to begin with.

A touch of the unusual is an expression of style and an elevated design aesthetic.

I often ask myself if being blissfully unaware that perfect fits exists, would make me happier? I have to admit that I think it might, but I am not wired that way. Before I was woke to bespoke I wanted it my way, and then I came to learn that regardless of the size of your home or you for that matter, it could be made to look elegant, timeless, intentional through customization.

Restoration Hardware Curtains with Samuel & Sons Trim

That’s what I want, my thoughts, beliefs, hopes and desires to be imposed on everything from a bar of soap to the custom cabinetry emblazoned with motifs that hint at my city life and my seaside life. I want it to be uniquely me, and perfectly suited for the place in which it lands. Getting exactly what you want is incredibly expensive.

My tips for making it look custom when it’s not:

  • Paint your interior doors a contrasting color – custom speaks to both imagination and preference,
  • Hardware: sub out the cheap stuff for pieces with heft, and style – even a hollow cored door (gulp – they’re the worst) can be dressed to impress with some stately hardware,
  • Windows should never be bare, but custom curtains can break the budget so buy off the shelf and embellish – add trim to a roman or ribbon to the curtain: I take mine to the dry cleaner and have their in-house tailor apply it for super cheap,
  • Kitchen cabinetry: gaps above cabinets, or next to appliances are a dead give-away. Fill them in. Run sheetrock down from the ceiling to the cabinet and add a strip of molding to mask it, build a small cabinet between wall and fridge, and be sure to pull the cabinet above the refrigerator flush with the doors, setting it back against the wall is a game over move,
  • Furniture: measure, measure, measure, and you guessed it measure again. Look for makers like Oomph that offer dozens of finish, size, and color options.
Color and custom hardware combined.

Be close to bespoke without going broke. We all want it our way without having to pay and semi-custom options are points of pride in their own right.