Since our first visitors of the year are arriving this weekend, we decided to paint the last unpainted room in our guest flat last night - the second bedroom. We couldn't decide on a colour, but thought that any of the paint we'd used anywhere else in the house would be fine, and we knew there was plenty left over. So Richard found a paint-can that felt reasonably full, and we could see a kind of light peach colour around the lid. It looked like the paint we used for our living room upstairs, the study, and the stairs and landing.
We started painting. It went on very smoothly and took not much more than an hour. It didn't even look too streaky. When we'd finished, there was a little bit of paint left in the tray, as often happens. We discussed the fact that along the stairs, even though we only painted them six months ago, a few finger marks have started appearing. I've tried wiping them off, but either nothing happens or the paint itself starts getting paler. The Cyprus paint range is better than it used to be, but doesn't seem to include washable matt paint.
So we had a good idea. I'd use what was left in the paint tray to go over the marks on the wall of the stairs. I did worry that the colour might have faded, or that it could be a slightly different batch, and was a little reluctant... but then the finger marks really didn't look very nice. So I got started, and - as you do - discovered several other marks before I'd used up the remaining paint. In fact I painted patches on just about every bit of wall there was. It did concern me that the paint looked rather darker than what was there before, but then paint always does look different when it's still wet... doesn't it?
When I got up this morning, I was not impressed. Everywhere I looked were patches of paint that looked completely different from the rest of the wall. Ugh. If anything, it looked worse than the finger marks. My first thought was that we would need to spend this evening re-painting the entire stairs and landing... and it wasn't an easy job, as some of the higher spots are very difficult to reach. But it really seemed as if the old paint had faded, or the newer paint hadn't mixed in properly.
As I gradually woke up, I started wondering if by mistake we'd used the paint from Tim's room, because it didn't even look like a slightly different shade. The new paint looked significantly darker. I couldn't remember what any of the paint names were, but I did remember that the living room etc and Tim's room actually had the same basic colour, with the difference being that the living room was shade '1' (ie very pale) and Tim's room shade 3.
So I found the paint we had used last night. Was it 1 or 3, I wondered?
I was mystified to find it wasn't either. It had a code number on it, but no name (and I know there was a name somewhere...) and nothing else.
Then I had an 'aha' moment. The paint in our cupboard isn't ONLY the paint from this house. It also has some of the left-over paint from our old house. Tim's room there was also in a peachy kind of shade... maybe THAT was what we had used on the downstairs bedroom.
I hunted around and found a tin SND 1. Yes, that must be the one we wanted. So all we had to do was go over the wrong paint with that, and everything would be fine. I went and told Richard (who was still in bed) and he said he'd do it first thing.
As I was about to go out to mother-and-toddler group (where I help in the kitchen) I thought about the dangers of making assumptions. We had assumed, last night, that the paint we were using was the one matching our stairs. It wasn't. I was now assuming that SND 1 was what we needed, but was I sure....?
At the last moment, I remembered that I wrote down the names of the colours we used, when we bought them. Impressive, I thought at the time. I even filed them away in our 'new house' folder. So I got it out, and found the paperwork. And there I saw that SND 1 was actually the colour we used in our kitchen and dining room. SND stands for SunDown. The colour we wanted was Warm Apricot.
So, back I went to the paint cupboard. And there I found, right at the back, a tin of WA 3. WA - Warm Apricot. That's what we used in Tim's room here. So far so good.
I couldn't find WA 1 anywhere. Although I did find one large can that had the label obscured by paint, and a colour around the lid that looked right. Surely it had to be that...
I went and told Richard again. I left the can in the kitchen. I told him to check carefully rather than just painting wildly like I did last night....
And, thankfully, it did turn out to be the right shade. He went over my attempts, and it now looks fine.
Moral of this story: never make assumptions about colours of paint. Particularly if you're painting after dark, by artificial light. It's dangerous.