White Paint, Squared

Scientists at Purdue University have created the whitest white paint ever made–a paint so white it has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the whitest paint in history. (Who would have thought there was even such a category?)

This isn’t of interest to only those people who like to go to paint stores to get those little paint squares and then debate whether their ceilings should be painted in eggshell, or pearl, or alabaster. The whole point of the whitest paint invention process was to try to develop a paint that could actually conserve energy, and thereby address climate change, by making a paint that is as reflective of sunlight as possible. As scientists worked on the problem, they discovered that sunlight reflection and dazzling whiteness went hand in hand.

The new paint is much more reflective than commercially available white paint–bouncing back 98.1 percent of solar radiation–and it also emits infrared heat. As a result, a surface coated with the paint, such as a roof, or the walls of a house, becomes cooler than the surrounding temperature. Using the paint therefore could help to cool buildings and reduce the need for air conditioners and their power consumption, which could relieve the pressure on the nation’s already taxed power grid and the environmental effects associated with generation of electric power.

It’s a pretty ingenious, and painless, way of conserving energy. And who knew? It turns out that inventing a brilliant new white paint is a lot more exciting than watching paint dry.

Tropical Housing Rainbow

IMG_3939There are a lot of reasons why it would be fun to have a tropical home.  One of them is being able to paint your house just about any color in the rainbow and not have your neighbors complain about it.  Imagine — an ochre house, or a salmon one, or a fine mint green.  No need to stick to the boring whites and off-whites and grays; your palette is limited only by your imagination.

The Joys And Challenges Of Sprucing Things Up

Since retiring, my first order of business has been to spruce up things around the house.  Years of two boys and their friends and three dogs have resulted in lots of wear and tear.  Walls are marked and dented, kitchen cabinets are coming off their hinges, and sofa upholstery is paper thin and in some spots exposing cushions underneath.   So yes . . . we need to spruce things up!

I have one friend who finds decorating her home the ultimate in enjoyment. She sometimes uses commercial breaks on TV to do a quick room rearranging.  Alas, I find it nothing but angst-producing.  I know I don’t have OCD, but when it comes to making decisions such as these, I somehow feel I just might after all . . . .

Let’s start with paint colors.   I’m going with neutrals, nothing fancy.  But there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of shades of beige, white and grays (my “color theme”) at Benjamin Moore.  They all look ever-so-similar to me, yet I am advised by my decorator friend and the helpful Benjamin Moore gentleman that they differ greatly!  How did I miss that!?  Some have shades of blue, some a dollop of gray, others undertones of pink.  Pick the wrong one and I might have an unseemly battle of undertones/overtones going on in my very own living room.

So, I pull the color wheel out and break into a cold sweat.  I lean it against the wall, the carpeting, the sofa, the napping dogs.  It doesn’t matter:  the colors all look the same to me.

The only reasonable solution, of course,  is to rely on names.  What’s in a name?   For me, at the moment, everything.

But that brings on a whole new layer of angst.  I think I’ve found a good shade of gray, but the name is Bleecker Beige!  So, I leave Bleecker Beige in the dust to look for other color names.  Boothbay Gray — as you know, I love Maine, so that’s good, right?  Coastal Fog — I love what that evokes, but really not sure about the color itself.  Edgecomb Gray — what is Edgecomb?  I certainly need to know before I pick it.  Gunpowder Gray — I like it, but that’s way too NRA/political for me.  Creamy white — that sounds boring beyond belief, even for my neutral tastes.  Who comes up with these names?   I want to apply for that job.

And then, I’m told, there’s the “light.”  You have to look at the paint colors during different times of day to see what they’re doing.  I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and walking downstairs to see how Coastal Fog looks at 3 a.m.  (It looked beige.)

Argh!  These are decisions I will live with for years.  I know these problems aren’t so enormous that I should ask you to put me on your prayer chain or anything, but my head is about to explode right now.

After all is said and done, I know the outcome …. I will pick bland, boring choices.  I will love that heavily patterned sofa fabric but be terrified that once I see it on my own sofa, it will look like a bad ’70s nightmare.  Our house will look fine, perhaps lovely even, and my mind can move on to societal things that are far more important.  And, as even Martha Stewart might agree, “that’s a good thing.”

A former colleague once told me that home ownership, in all its variations, is the craft project that never ends.  That’s true, but I really am looking forward to this chapter, at least, drawing to a close.