The issueS are really multiple. The short version is that I once laughed at a blogger (who will remain nameless) who raved about how excited and proud she was to have found the PERFECT color to paint her apartment, and it was beige. I thought it was so goofy that she had made such a big deal about her color choice and it was JUST beige. Ugh, Karma.
The other reason is that while we get a good amount of natural light for being an interior townhouse, the light we get in the front and back of the house is very different. Since we're painting the whole main level that matters. I have to find a color I like in both lights.
How different can it be, you ask? I will show you. In our living room (northern exposure) the light is very shady and blue. While in the kitchen (southern exposure) the light is warm and bright because that's where the sign shines directly on the house. You can see the dramatic difference in the two photos below.
Living room light, right by a window.
Believe me, it's not just the camera. This is a very accurate portrayal of the lighting.
Same samples in the kitchen, just a few seconds later.
So you can see how it's difficult to tell how the color will look in each space. When I find a color that looks great in the kitchen light it just looks white in the living room. If I choose a color that looks good in the living room, it's super dark in the kitchen and I'm afraid it will create a cardboard box effect. We are also painting the stairway and upstairs hallway which get no natural light. So I think the conclusion I've reached is that I'll need to make the decision primarily by our artificial lights (of course with consideration in natural light in the different spaces) since that is the only way to see the color in the same light in all the spaces.
In the mean time I've narrowed yesterday's pile of paint chips down to about 15 colors. At least it's progress!