this thing's incredible

The Best Zoom Background Is Clare Paint’s (Deep-Green) Current Mood

The author takes a video call in her office, painted with Clare Paint’s deep-green Current Mood. Photo: Courtesy Ariel Kanter

Perhaps the worst part of starting a Zoom meeting is the awkward pleasantries before it begins. How’s everyone feeling this Monday?, Happy hump day, and TGIF! ring hollow enough when written in an email but are somehow even more cringey when spoken by a screen in front of you. Far more pleasurable is beginning a call with compliments: I love that! It’s so pretty! Where did you get it? Which is more or less how every video call has started since I zhuzhed up my home office with a coat of Clare Paint’s Current Mood.

In October, I moved from Brooklyn to Highland Park, Illinois. Our new house came with enough space for me to turn a miniscule room — as in, shy of 80 square feet — into an office. As someone who has marveled at others’ décor but never really felt like she had a style of her own, I was determined to use the space as an opportunity to be bolder. My office has a large window that lets in plenty of natural light — enough, I thought, to cover the walls in a darker, moodier color. But I also worried such a color might make it feel more claustrophobic. After talking to a few friends who encouraged me, I decided it was time to go over to the dark side.

My search for a color started at paint stores, where I was overwhelmed by myriad options I received next to no help sorting through. I had heard about Clare Paint — a Black-owned business purporting to simplify the painting process — before I moved, and I returned to it following my less-than-promising paint-store visits. Right off the bat, there was something soothing about perusing Clare’s paint options online. You can filter by color or undertone, and there’s even a short quiz you can take that asks about the size of your space and your personal style to help you find the right color. After playing around, I ended up ordering about ten swatches. They cost $2 apiece, but they’re worth it: The swatches measure eight-by-eight inches, so they’re large enough to give a true sense of how a wall might look with any color (unlike those tiny little squares from the paint store), and you can peel and stick them all over the house, which is what I did in order to see how the colors looked at different times of day. Like those brick-and-mortar stores, though, Clare is a one-stop shop: It also sells supplies like brushes, extenders, tape, drop cloths, and affordable kits including all of those things that any wall (or ceiling) painter needs to get the job done.

My partner and I actually bought several Clare Paint colors for our home: the cool white Snow Day for most of the walls, the soft, blue-green Headspace for the guest room, and the seafoam OMGreen for the mudroom (all are below). But none is more exciting to look at than the deep-green Current Mood I chose for my office. (For the job, I only needed one one-gallon can.) The rich, warm color pairs perfectly with my small wooden desk, my bronze décor accents, and the rust-colored chair I splurged on. At different times of day, the room can be bright and vibrant or moody and cozy; I’m no psychologist, but there’s something about how these changes reflect the changes in my own moods that makes the color that much more dynamic. Despite the chaos of work, I really do feel at ease whenever I walk into my office — a feeling I never thought a paint color alone could provide. I fell so hard for Current Mood that I used my can’s remaining drops to paint a swinging door to our kitchen and the mantel on a fireplace.

Shoppers on a budget should know that all of Clare’s paints are self-priming, so while they may be more expensive than other brands’ colors, you save some money (and time) because you don’t need to buy and apply primer. And to those who need a second, more professional opinion: The painters we hired (houses have a lot of walls!) even told us that Clare makes really nice paint.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Best Zoom Background Is Clare Paint’s Current Mood