HELP ME PLEASE! My Child Picked An Ugly Paint Color!

Dear Laurel,

Thanks for all of your posts about painting adult rooms. But what about kids’ rooms? My son is 6 and I thought I would let him select a color, so we went to the store and he chose the brightest most putrid green I’ve ever seen. It’s called Sweet Pea 2031-30

What am I going to do? There is no way I can live with this wretched color!

Gonna Hurl


Dear Gonna,

Sweet Pea, eh? Yuck, you are so right. There ain’t nothin’ sweet about that color! It looks like the run off from a toxic waste dump.


Alright. You are indeed in a bit of a day glow pickle. However, you asked for help, so please take this in the loving spirit in which it’s intended. And know that this is coming from a mom with combined 45 years parenting experience. (with two high maintenance boys) And, I’ve helped dozens of young families pick paint colors. So here goes…

I don’t recommend letting your child actually pick THE ugly paint color.

Here’s what I would say, “honey, would you like your room to be yellow, blue, green, orange, red, pink or purple? That is enough for 99% of all 6-yr-olds. If you happen to have a color genius on your hands, then wonderful! Let them come and work for me. :]

However, yes, it’s too late. You let them at it with the fan deck and he put his adorable little sights on the most hideous shade out of the whole bunch. But, fortunately, there’s a way out.

This is what you’re going to do.

You’re going to lie.

Oh, stop looking at me like I suggested you go streaking across Madison Square Garden! YES, LIE!

The first rule of good parenting is the art of lying to your children. ;] I don’t mean the kind of lying like not telling them that they were adopted until they are 18. I mean the kind of lying like slipping in a bit of zucchini or spinach into his burger!

Most, not all, but most 6-yr-olds have no idea what a color will look like on the wall. Hell, most adults don’t either. A color that looks good on the chip is possibly not going to look so great when it’s magnified 100,000 times.

There are two ways you can lie.

One is an out-and-out lie. “Honey, I’m so sorry, but they don’t make that color anymore… there’s an extreme shortage of the radioactive plutonium oxide required to create that unique color!”

The truth of the matter is… They should NOT be making that color! It’s disgusting. There is absolutely no application I can think of except perhaps the interior of a holding cell where they keep terrorists or something like that.

This is what happened.  Some 20 years ago, many people were complaining about how “drab and muddy” the Benjamin Moore colors were. You know… Revere Pewter, Horizon, Quiet Moments, etc… the colors that are WILDLY popular now. So, the suits at BM went to the opposite extreme and created COLOR PREVIEW, a collection of largely insanely bright colors. Doesn’t Preview mean a glimpse of something to come? Well, I don’t know what happened, but a few years later they brought back the old colors and did a Coca Cola and now call those horrid muddy colors the “Classic Colors.” Oh whatever. We believe whatever they put in front of us. For some reason, they kept the so-called preview. I do use the preview fan deck because amidst the chromatically assaulting colors are still some lovely shades and some of their best shades of white.

Alright. Of course, that doesn’t help you with the fact that there is no way you can live with this barftastic color. And you don’t have to. Since they “don’t make that color anymore”, perhaps suggest something else in that color? For instance, some cool bedding like this.

serena and lily boys greenSerena and Lily

Serena and Lily has fabulous bedding for kids and adults. It’s one of my favorite websites!

The other lie that works really well is don’t tell him anything and choose a color something like the one he chose but toned down to a manageable level.

I promise you… He will not notice the difference.

But Laurel. I hate green. HATE IT!

Okay, okay… please calm down! It’s not hopeless. I agree, some shades of green can be very annoying, but if you know how to work with it, you can create a very chic and charming space for your little boy.

Here’s how to work with green to make it chic and not an ugly paint color

  • Green loves other greens. Pair the bright green with other greens and it will become a glorious analogous composition.
  • Green loves black.
  • It loves navy too. In fact, it loves most shades of blue
  • Green loves white. White adds a note of freshness.
  • It’s okay to also in small amounts or red and/or yellow as long as it’s tempered with black and white

whaling-city-cottage-bunker-green-3Whaling City Cottage

Above and below. This fabulous boy’s bedroom has it all. Love the art wall, too!

whaling-city-cottage-bunker-green-1benjamin-moore-basil-greenBenjamin Moore BASIL GREEN 2029-10 is a good alternative to some of the more neon greens.

a delightful design grown up boys bedroomA Delightful Design

Another cool boy’s bedroom. (or it could be a girl’s room too!) Another option is to take your child’s favorite color and use it as an accent. I love kid’s rooms that don’t scream baby. I had a client once who put an Oushak rug in her nursery. It was fabulous!

the-avarice-bunker-hill-greenThe Avarice

Above and Below by Whitney McGregor

Love this boy’s room. This wall color is Benjamin Moore 566 BUNKER HILL GREEN.

566 bunker hill green


the avarice green cool nursery ugly paint color white crib art wall

This is the same room and I’m not sure if it’s an earlier or a later iteration, but it is the nursery for her daughter. My boys would’ve been hanging from the sconces – lol. But they sure are cool!

cathy-blue-green-nursery540_via Apartment Therapy

Yellow greens look fabulous with dark blues.

artfully wallsArtfully Walls

A beautiful, rich deep blue for a boy’s room is CARIBBEAN AZURE 2059-20. It would look great with lots of white, green and black.

nina farmer interiors_boys_green_bedroomNina Farmer Interiors

I adore how Nina integrated the large map on one wall and used the vivid green as an accent on all the wood trim. Again, a black bed, blue bedding and it’s a sophisticated, balanced and fun space.

I’m all for having your kids have a say in how their room will look– if it matters to them. However, I think it’s perfectly fine to interject some adult sensibility into the design. I’ve seen many parents who’ve gone ahead and painted the offensive color in the name of giving their kids “full-control.” I know you want to be nice and you want your kids to be happy. However, it’s not good for you, and it’s not good for the kids either.

I mean, you don’t let a young child drive your car and do their own grocery shopping, right? So, help them out with the paint colors too. It’s possible to have a fun, beautiful room that you both will love!



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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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