Back in June our family was getting ready to take delivery of our new cottage, and it brought up a number of questions that we needed to work through together. Naturally, this situation also had a side benefit (which was NOT unexpected) which was that it gave me a juicy blog topic.

The actual building was put together in a factory and delivered to our lot in two pieces, where it was then put onto the foundation that had been poured a few weeks prior. All this was part of the plan that was set into motion last fall.

What we had not thought through at the outset was painting the inside of the house. Honestly I half assumed that the walls would be white and that eventually we might add some colour to some of the rooms.

But then a couple of weeks before we were to take delivery of the final product, we got an email from the company who had sold us the house and taken care of everything else.

We were being asked to provide them with our colour choices for each room, and they wanted our answer quickly, since the painter wanted to start our job really soon. No problem, my wife told them, we will give you an answer by Monday. I’m pretty sure it was Friday when she told them that.

Okay, so we had some work to do, but just how were we going to do this quickly, fairly, and nicely? As a family, we had a few days to get this right.

I will get back to how we handled the task a bit later, but the point of this blog has nothing to do with choosing colours, and a lot more to do with working together to make acceptable choices.

Let me tell you a few of the things that we did NOT do, and which we frankly never considered.

  • Just leaving all the walls white. When we learned that painting two coats of colour was included in the price we had already agreed to, it was a no-brainer to say, OK, let’s get some colours in there now.
  • Picking ONE colour for the whole house. The price actually included up to four different colours, but when I asked how many we could have, I was told that it was theoretically unlimited, but that for each one over four, there was a slight additional cost for mixing another can of paint.
  • Asking the people who sold us the house to choose the colours for us. While I am sure that they would have done a fine job since they had helped us choose matching counters and tiles, they would not have to live in the place.
  • Asking our accountant what colours we should go with. I don’t think I need to explain this one.
  • Asking our lawyer what colours we should use.
  • Asking our wealth manager, or our golf buddies, or, God forbid, someone at the bank.

Now if you are wondering what the heck I am getting at, recall that I normally blog about matters relating to family business, and hopefully I don’t need to tell you that every family is different.

We decided to let each of the kids choose the colours for their own rooms. I added my ideas about using an accent wall of a different colour in every room, and Mom spent a number of hours putting together some nice choices for the rest, and we all came to agree upon them.

When it comes to figuring things out for your own family, you may already know lots of experts that you use for your business questions, but does that mean that you should listen to their advice for your family decisions?

Of the options I outlined above, the most reasonable would have been to rely on the interior decorating advice of the company who sold us the house, since that is part of their specialty.

If you were tempted by any of the other choices, don’t be surprised if some family members begin clamouring for a fresh coat of paint real soon.