"How To" Series: Picking a Great Paint Color

I hope everyone's summer is going great.  I can't believe how fast it's flying by.  I always feel this way after the 4th of July.  As a kid, I can remember thinking, "it's already half way over!"

 Since I feel like I am running out of time, I thought I better share a second installation of my summer "How To" series - Picking a Great Paint Color.  Hopefully, this will inspire some of you to get painting before summer completely gets away from us!


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We all know that paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to freshen up a space.  But, this is only true if you are able to pick the right color the first time!  With every trip back to the paint store, the price tag goes up.  So, here are some basic tips for picking the right paint color on your first try.

Dark colors will make a space feel intimate and cozy.

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While light colors will create an open and airy vibe.

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I have to confess I'm not a huge fan of dark or bright colors on the walls.  My only exception to this would be in a powder room or other small spot where you want to draw one's eye to a piece of artwork.  Otherwise, I am light colors all the way!

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Also remember, dark and bright colors will draw your eye to the walls, molding, and artwork of a space while light colors will allow the walls to fade away with the main focus on your furnishings, fabrics, and accessories.  See how the trim work pops in this space against the ebony walls?

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Would you ever paint a room orange?  It actually looks stunning here! Dying over those floors too.

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If you recall from preschool, the paint wheel is divided into cool and warm colors.  You will need to look at the furnishings already in your space and make sure you are selecting a paint that will compliment the undertones in your fabrics.  Warm undertones include red, orange red, orange, yellow orange, yellow and yellow green.  Cool tones include green blue green, blue, blue purple, purple, and red purple.

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In this great example from Tracery Interiors, the walls are a cool toned watery blue.  They have paired this cool tone color with neutral black and white fabrics and furnishings to allow the walls to pop, yet in a subtle way.  Really fresh look.


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 At first glance, this paint color appears to be a basic white; but it's really a warm toned white (with yellow undertones) as opposed to a cool toned white (with blue undertones).  As you can see, this color works wonderfully with the honey tones of the hardwood floors as well as the front doors.  It's beautiful.

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Here is an example of a cool toned neutral.  Here, they have kept the entire room cool by using accents of blue with grayish walls for a great overall look.

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If you are touring an idea house, dining at a friend's home, or driving down the street and notice a pretty exterior paint color, get brave and ask for the brand and name of the color! If it's a friend, they may even be willing to give you what is left in the can for you to slap on your walls for a test.  

Now, I realize this is not always a perfect solution (lighting, furnishings, etc. will effect the way a color reads in your home), but I promise you, it will get you closer to the right color than going into the paint store and pulling a tiny little swatch of color off a giant wall and ordering a gallon.


While we are on the subject of the giant wall of tiny little samples of color, here's another tip.  In order to pick the right color, you need to trust the color fan deck.  Always, ALWAYS look at all the colors on the color strip with your selection to figure out what undertones are in your pick.  It is also helpful to see where in the fan deck your pick is falling (i.e., is it in the blues, greens, pinks, etc).

For example, let's say you pick what appears to be a pretty cream color.  But when you look down the color strip, the last color on the strip with your cream is a hot pink.  You can rest assured that the cream you have selected has pink undertones in it (even if you can't see it on the swatch)! Do not try and convince yourself otherwise.  I hear this a lot, "I loved the color when I picked it on the swatch, but when I got it on the walls I noticed a pink tint to it, and that is NOT what I wanted."  


I am sure this is going to sound like a plug, but I think it has to be said, decorators deal with paint colors far more often than most homeowners.  They have their tried and true picks for every color you are attempting to attain and can easily help you pick a great color.  If you are not confident in making paint decisions, you will actually save time and money by hiring an expert to give you the perfect colors.

Moreover, decorators can help you decide when trim moldings, ceilings and doors should be painted dark or light colors to compliment your wall color.  Many decorators charge a flat fee for a paint schedule, so you know exactly what you are getting before they even arrive.

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The scenario, I give a client a custom paint schedule which they in turn give to their painter.   The paint goes up on the walls, and the homeowner calls to tell me they are not crazy about a color I selected.  My first question, did you use the brand of paint we selected the colors from or did your painter substitute a cheaper brand.  The answer: he substituted.  When they get a gallon of the paint we selected, they instantly see the difference.  

Trust me on this, if an exact color match could be obtained from brand to brand, there would be no price differences in paint.  The quality as well as the pigmentation used in a paint will dramatically effect the depth of color once it is on the wall.  It really does make a difference!  So, always select the colors from the paint you intend to use in the space. 

I hope these basic tips help you in thinking about paint.  It is the first line of defensive in freshening up a space!  For more information, this article has some excellent tips on selecting paint colors for you home.
Selecting Paint Colors

Have a wonderful day! M.

11 comments:

  1. What a great 'how to'! I'll be the first to admit I'm the worst at choosing wall colors! Sample cans all the way! :)

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  2. FANTASTIC post and very timely as we are just now picking paint. I am going neutral my brain feels like its about to explode with all the decisions I am making and I am afraid choosing colors (over neutrals) might send me over the edge!!! But this is really good and I am most certainly going to bookmark this to come back to.

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  3. I am with you about painting small areas like a powder room or butler's pantry with bright or saturated colors. I am doing a mountain house now and want to use warm neutrals and lighten up some of the wood. This was a great post.

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  4. Kimberly WarburtonJul 19, 2011, 1:27:00 PM

    THANK YOU for this post! I am in the middle of trying to decide on paint and having a tough time. This will really help me choose:) I am really enjoying reading your blog- I am so envious of your ability to decorate. Kimberly (Sarah's sister-in-law)

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  5. Fabulous post with lots of wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Jessie
    www.mixandchic.com

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  6. This was a great post - great tips and a well put together summary. I also loved your accessories from yesterday - so glad I found your blog - I am your newest follower!

    http://bjdhausdesign.blogspot.com/

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  7. Great advise about substitution brands. I know some people who have tried that with Farrow and Ball....it does not work. Especially with the trim paints.....totally different!

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  8. Coming from Enchanted Home today! Great color post on how to pick paint!

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  9. Tina was right....awesome post! She included one of mine, too...isn't she the sweetest? I'm a new follower. Hope you'll stop by sometime. Very excited to get to know your blog!
    Stacy

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  10. I had to click over to this on your sidebar because I find myself obsessed with color lately - mainly because I've gotten such a good feel fro understanding color and because I've been looking at lots of real estate websites and people need the help of decorators! ha! It really does take practice, and I think hiring out is such a smart decision and worth every penny. Great throwback post for me to read!

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  11. awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really sweet!
    painters edmonton

    painting contractor edmonton

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Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.