I agree there is really only one person you need to satisfy when it comes to taste--you.
The problem is when YOU paint a room in some unique, slightly off-center way with little or no understanding of the results and then (days, weeks later) YOU decide you don't like it.
In my experience the majority--I'm not saying everyone--but the clear majority of people over the age of 20 who make like gangbusters down home painting's road less traveled end up in some large measure regretting it.
A case in point. Recently I felt obliged to convince an interior painting client to go two levels lighter (on a color strip) from a deep, electric blue. I then bought a quart and rolled out a few square feet. Remember this test quart was about 50% lighter than what the client originally thought for sure was just fine. When the test area dried the client was practically aghast as they realized even THIS was way too dark for what they wanted. They ended up going another 50% lighter still!
The point is not whether I liked the color or wanted this or wanted that. My only stake was my client's satisfaction. And believe me they would not have been happy if I had painted that room on the strength of their "taste" as they had percieved it on that deep, electric blue color chip. Feedback...testing...it can mean all the difference!
Chances for success off the beaten path (and even in the sometimes overwhelming world of neutral colors) improve if you have help from a friend with solid experience working with color (for example an art teacher) or--if you can afford it--$100-150 for an interior designer color consultantation. Money well spent, especially if you can find a good referral.
Perhaps the best news is the recent advances in color visualization software available today. Bob Vila offers it! For an excellent demo, click on the tab at the top of the page "design tools" then click on "paint designer v2.0" then on the click "Launch Paint Designer v2.0" A pop-up will ask for your username and password but for the demo purposes just click on "Try first" located beneath the picture of the paint cans. From there it's easy to follow and even fun!
Finally, no matter what, it is always a VERY good idea to buy a quart of the color(s) making sure the color(s) is in the same sheen (flat/satin/semi-gloss)you plan to use. Then roll or brush out one or more fairly large test areas (3'x3' or so) and live with the color a few days, noticing how it does or doesn't grow on you and how different it looks as the light cycle happens throughout the day.
[This message has been edited by cleanedge (edited February 05, 2004).]