Decorators’ Handbook: How to pick paint

Time and time again we all hear/read that the least expensive what to fix up a space is by painting.

 

Sounds easy enough, right? Well if you are anything like me when I’m picking out a nail polish color at the salon it’s not that easy.

 

I swear I could stand there for days putting little dabs of polishing on nails to see what I like best. To be honest 90% of the time it’s the name of the color that makes my decision.

 

Here are some tips for making painting decisions for your home a bit easier. If you have an tips to help speed along my manicure trips I’m all ears. :)

 

1. Jot down a list between you and your spouse/partner/family/friend etc (who ever else you live with) and discuss your dream color choices and the colors you would never want to see in a room. This will help you narrow down the field a bit and have you both me on the same page.

 

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2. Decide if you want neutral furnishings and want to make an impact with your wall color or if you want your wall color to take a back seat and act more a backdrop.

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3. Take note of the other paint colors in the rooms surrounding the room you are working in. In many small homes people recommend painting all the rooms the same shade in order to give the illusion of a larger/open space.

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4. Go to your local paint store and purchase a fan deck! It’s the best $12-$15 you’ll ever spent. I go through mine with little sticker tabs to pick out all my favorites and see if I can work them into my space.

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5. Don’t forget that shades in Brown, Black and Grey are always great neutrals and you don’t have to be stuck in a sea of beige.

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6.Once you’ve narrowed down your choice to a color family pick out three different shades in that family to try out.

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7.Pick up your 3 different shades in sample pots and try to get them in the finish that you want to paint the room. An egg shell finish swatch is going to look different in a satin finish and vice versa.

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8. Paint 3’ x 3’ squares on 2 different walls. Make sure there is 6” difference between squares.

 

* Make sure you sand the area where you made the swatches when you are ready to paint. Making those squares everywhere and not sanding prior to painting may leave raised squares on your walls. Not pretty. Not that I know this from personal experience.  ;)

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9. Make sure you mark the swatches on the wall with the paint name. You don’t want to find the perfect shade and then forget which one it was.

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10. Look at the colors during different times of day. Depending on the amount of natural sunlight you have in the space, lighting and day time the color will look different and perhaps not at all like it looked in the store.

 

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My first instinct for picking out paint colors normally is a gut feeling. I’ll look at the space, the furnishings,  and clients likes/dislikes and after a quick fan of paint deck narrow it down to a color family.

 

From there I start getting paint swatches in a larger size. Some paint stores offer color sheets, which are much larger and use them to get a better feel for the color.

 

I don’t worry about warm or cold tones right away. Within a color family you’ll be able to find your pick of shades with a warm tone and shades with cold tone.

 

As for finishes I tend to go with SATIN. I know some may find it a bit shiny, but I like a little bit of glam and to me sometimes Eggshell is just too blah. SATIN is also a helpful for easy clean-up.

 

Knowing the way I am with nail polishes you must know I’m the same way with paint colors.  A good name gets me every time, but I don’t let a boring name stop me from liking a color. Aren’t you proud I’m growing up before your eyes. :)

 

A great go to source for color advice is the lovely Maria over at Colour me Happy.

 

* Images via Miles Redd a man who isn’t afraid of any color in the crayon box.

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15 Responses to Decorators’ Handbook: How to pick paint

  1. Shannon @ What's Up Whimsy says:

    Thanks for that tip on sanding the test swatches…I wouldn't have thought of that!

  2. Bryn says:

    Wow! I'm surprised to hear you go with Satin! I always always go with Flat unless it's trim. Different strokes for different folks :)

  3. Teresa Hatfield says:

    Thank you for these fabulous tips! Perfect timing, as I am in the middle of choosing a color.
    Love your blog,
    Teresa (Splendid Sass)

  4. Flavia @ Estilo Home says:

    Paint really is so tough! There are just so many colors out there. I'm getting ready to buy samples of a couple of paint colors, so I really appreciate the sanding suggestion!

  5. Scientific Housewife says:

    Thanks for sharing, picking the right colors is very important :)

  6. Elizabeth says:

    i love paint…..the way it can transform a room, the smell, picking swatches, etc. It can be overwhelming though. When we were trying to pick paint colors for our living room, I bought a poster board, cut it into four large squares and painted my samples on the poster board. By doing this, I had the true color and not on top of existing wall color {which may affect the shade} and I could move the "sample" around to different parts of the room during different times of the day.

  7. Laura PARING DOWN says:

    Loved this post -

    I, too, learned the hard way about the test squares.

    I also love love love satin; it's my favorite finish.

    Cheers,
    Laura

  8. coolkids says:

    great tips! I prefer eggshell with kids. I do agree that it isn't easy picking out paint.

  9. The Boese Family says:

    Wow! I think this is the best set of tips I have EVER read on choosing paint colors. Where were you two years ago when I chose the "wrong" color for my entire house? :)

    And I am so pleased to hear you like satin. I use satin because I have kids and a dog who likes to rub against the walls. I also like the bit of reflection and therefore brightness it can add to a space. I now feel vindicated! Thanks!

  10. SteFay says:

    I ended up here from What's Up Whimsy and I must say I'm glad I did… Those steps for picking a color where not only helpful, but really carefully thought out. Thanks so much!

  11. Kim@Chattafabulous says:

    Superb post full of great advice!

  12. High-Heeled Foot in the door says:

    So happy you are all enjoying the new series.

    Bryn,

    I use all types of finishes when painting clients home, but for myself I tend to stick with egg-shell and normally satin.

    For me flat finish can be a pain when trying to clean up the wall. It always seems to stain with my experience.

    :)

  13. J. Is A Bird says:

    Great advice. I like the sanding idea too.

    I always tell people, go with what you love even if it's "different", you can always just repaint it. We like strong colors, my 4 yo son's room is wine red, our bedroom is deep forest green. People think we're nuts till they see the finished product.

    Beautiful pics too by the way.

  14. Evie says:

    1) I just found a great neutral shade that isn't beige. Benjamin Moore's "Wilmington Tan" in the aura paint. I'll be using it somewhere in every house I live in!

    2) I always choose my nail polish color based on the name too! I once decided to not go with this awesome shade of red because it was called "liar liar pants on fire" because I had just been cheated on by an ex. Also, I will admit that I buy books because I like the cover….is it a crime to want pretty bookshelves?

  15. Style Chronicle says:

    satin is the best!!

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