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Really, really off

Once upon a time, off-white was a common paint color for decorators. You can’t find it now.

I’m painting two pieces of wooden bedroom furniture to go with our existing pieces but finding a close match hasn’t been easy. The paint I used more than 30 years ago I purchased simply by asking for off-white, but today there is no such color. Instead, paint makers have hundreds of shades and hues in their white category, some of them so far “off” white as to be incomprehensible.

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A lot of the paint colors are named after animals, few of which are the actual colors the animals come in from the factory, with “white” slapped on the end. Birds are big – Heron, Ibis, Kestrel, Egret, Duck. Don’t like birds? No problem, try Panda, Setter, West Highland, Oyster, Polar Bear. Not happy with animals, go with flowers (Daisy, Lily, Dogwood,), the weather (Snowstorm, Foggy Harbor), or even disasters (Tsunami Sky, Blizzard Fog, Pompeii).

Bowling fans can get both Extra, and Spare. Travelers might like Zurich, Greek Villa, or Barcelona. People who just have thing for random words will love Diving Board, Homework, Futon, or Chopsticks.

You can walk up to the Tru Value paint counter and say, “Pardon me my good man, could I trouble you for a gallon of Pongo?” Meanwhile, if you have only a rough idea of what shade of white you want, ask your Sherwin-Williams guy for Nebulous White. And if you just can’t remember the color you wanted, request a gallon of Unforgettable from your local Valspar dealer.

White hues with the word “lace” are common, and I finally settled on Valspar’s Ivory Lace, although that was really my second Valspar choice. Just couldn’t bring myself to tell the paint guy, “I’d like Pam’s Lace please.” I mean, what if that was his wife’s name?

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