Style Files: Tips for Picking the Perfect Paint Color

20 Aug

If someone had warned me before I would have rolled my eyes, but after experiencing it, I can now say with certainty: If your marriage can survive picking paint colors, it can survive anything. 

Of all the renovations we made to the house, we both agree that the painting was the most painful. From coming to a consensus on color, to getting it on the wall, to taking it off when we changed our mind, to attempting faux finishes, to learning that a red wall will need at least 4 coats, the process was – well, let’s just say we won’t be painting again anytime soon. (If you’d like to read more about our painting projects, click here and here and  here).

But we survived and we want to share our tips for choosing paint colors so that you don’t have to learn as we did – the hard way.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

  1. Samples are your friend. Home Depot has a carousel of sample-size paint that can be tinted to any color. You absolutely must get every color you are considering in a sample size first, paint a section of the wall, then go back for a larger amount once you’ve decided. Yes, this adds an extra step, but it will save you so much headache in the end. Plus, they have these cute little rollers made just for samples – load up on these!
  2. Get several shades. If you think you’ve found the perfect color, get samples in the same family that are both lighter and darker. Inevitably, the color you thought was perfect will either be a little too dark or too light, and you’ll want your other samples for comparison. HINT: You can also ask them to make samples that are a certain percentage lighter or darker than the original – this works just as well.
  3. Paint to a corner. If you paint the center section of a wall, the color that is already on the wall may interfere when you’re trying to decide. Paint all the way to a corner, or as we did, paint a small section in it’s entirety. We chose the end of the island in our kitchen.
  4. View paint during a.m and p.m. Be sure to pay attention to how the paint appears during every light of the day – colors react differently to sunlight, lamp light, etc. We found ourselves staring at the wall, tilting our heads back and forth, thinking “I don’t remember it looking this green last night.”
  5. Larger means lighter. If you have an open floor plan, as many more recently-built homes do, you’ll most likely have a large space that will require the same paint color. For larger spaces, use lighter, more neutral colors. Even if it’s you’re favorite color, it won’t be when every square inch of your house is covered in it!
  6. Don’t be afraid to paint the ceiling. Like tip #6, open floor plans often look great with a painted ceiling – it gives continuity to the space and can even make a room look larger.
  7. Beware of color matching. We made the mistake of tinting a gallon of Behr paint with a  Glidden shade of maroon. When we went back for more, we realized even the computer can’t have a 100% match across different brands, and we were disappointed to find that our second gallon of maroon paint was slightly darker. 😦
We hope these tips keep you from being on a first-name basis with the paint folks at your local home improvement store (as we did). Best of luck with your next painting project!
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2 Responses to “Style Files: Tips for Picking the Perfect Paint Color”

  1. Casey August 23, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    I paraphrased your first paragraph to Jason and he immediately gave me a high five in agreement. So true! I think he’s re-painted half the rooms in our house two or three times… and without the nifty paint tool!

    Casey

    • House to Home August 23, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

      Ha ha! It’s a lot of work, but it is so satisfying once it’s all done. Isn’t it?

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