Shabby chic without the chic

We live in one of thes, next to one that looks exactly like it, except that our intrepid young neighbors are more than doubling the current size, dwarfing our version of the same 100-year-old house.

This was our starter home. Years ago we talked of moving and expanding and adding and breaking through, but 20 years in, we've learned what space buys you rooms to care for and fill with yarn, and we already feel rich in rooms to care for...and yarn. So we yearn for space much less often than we did in our younger days.

Still there comes a time, when the house that you painted, tiled and purchased furniture for starts to look, um, well loved, in our case by two humans, one well-mannered 20-year-old tabby and a corpulent orange thing who has made the destruction of our Ethan Allen sofa his personal project.

Though Mr. and Mrs. Nake-id have strong esthetic opinions (happily, they typically align), neither of us likes making the decisions that move projects forward.

Take choosing paint colors. I'd rather weed the garden with a shrimp fork than pick colors to paint the kitchen.

So I start collecting chips. And more chips. And asking friends. I pour over magazines and roll websites and blogs.

"Haven't you been trying to pick colors for about two years?" a designer friend asked recently.

Hell, for me that's fast!

I recently stumbled on this collection by California Paints.

Can you imagine the consequences if I painted the house "Rosy Opal"? Or "Craftsman Gold"? I'd be living in the identical-but-more-commodious bungalow next door.

Anyway, how do you choose paint colors? Assistance welcomed.

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