Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Choosing Paint Colors

An amazing thing happened in the last week - we decided on paint colors for the entire house, hired a painter and now the entire house is painted.  Seriously in a weeks time all these things happened and I had been putting it off for the entire two years we have lived here.  Why you ask.  Well because I had the hardest time picking out paint colors.  I know, I'm a designer this should have been the simplest thing in the world.  Well that is where you are wrong.  I unfortunately suffer from 'having too many resources'.  I get overwhelmed with all the ideas and trends out there that I can't decide on one.  Usually, I change my mind about 10 times before I come to a decision.  And then, I spend the next few weeks (or months) convincing my husband its the best solution.  This can sometimes set me back a much longer than anticipated because he doesn't always agree with me.  Shocking, I know.

I'll get some photographs posted of the new digs shortly.  But first I wanted to walk you through my color selection process.  Below is a little color chart I put together of the colors I picked.  Our house is very vertical, and all the floors kind of flow into one another, so I choose a light neutral base color that I used in all the stairwells and hallways (Benjamin Moore, Ashen Tan 996).  I wanted a light color so it didn't make the house feel darker, but I wanted it to have some contrast with the white trim.  This color works well for many reasons - it ties together all the other colors in the house, it works with well with bold accents, and it can work with warm and cool tones.  

I'll fill you in on more of the details of the accent selections in my next post when I can refer to the photos.  For now, take a look at the rest of the palette.

Choosing paint colors can be a daunting task, so I thought I'd give you a few tips that I've learned along the way.  

10 Paint Selection Tips:
1.  Think Big Picture.  When choosing colors for your house think about all the rooms as a whole.  Make sure the colors flow from one room to the next.  Even if you can't paint everything at the same time, have a painting plan in mind from the beginning.  Think about all the colors as one composition.  Design Seeds is a great website to check out for some color palette inspiration.  Below is one of the palettes I used for inspiration.

2.  Consider Your Finishes.  Think about the permanent finishes in your house - your flooring, your countertops, your cabinets.  We have dark floors, so it was important to me to pick light paint colors because I didn't want to the house to feel darker.  Ask yourself 'how does the paint look next to your cabinet color?'  What about your favorite art piece - does the color emphasize the art or does it detract the beauty of the piece.
3.  Samples, Samples & More Samples.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Get your hands on as many samples as you can.  I like to start with alot and narrow down.  Hang up all your samples for a few days.  Look at them at different times of day.  How do they look in daylight vs. at night with a lamp on?  Colors will look different in a store with overhead fluorescent lighting vs. at home with incandescent table lamps.  It's very important to look at colors in there finished environment to get a true feel for the tone.
4.  Create a Mood.  Think about the type of mood you're trying to create.  Do you want the kitchen to be lively and active or formal?  Do your want your bedroom to be soothing or eclectic?  These are all questions to consider when selecting colors.  There are countless studies on the psychology of color.  If you're interested in more information on the topic, here is a fun link to check out.
5.  Use Accent Walls!  If you like a color but are afraid to paint the entire room for fear of going overboard, try one focal wall instead.  Its a great way to use bold color without overpowering the space.  We did this with a Orangey-Red tone on our top floor and we love it!
6.  Always Use White Trim.  Paint your trim and baseboards a crisp white.  This allows for a clean contrast between your paint colors, which really makes them pop.  White is harder to keep clean, so you'll have to touch it up yearly to keep it looking fresh.  But a little white paint goes a long way.
 7.  Explore color trends.  Believe it or not, there are many people and companies out there who study color trends.  Interior color trends usually take cues from fashion.  Flooring trends usually break into the market first and wall coverings and paints follow.  Don't ask me why, its just a pattern I've noticed over the years.  Pantone just released there new color trends for 2012, as did Sherwin Williams.  These are a fun read!  

8.  Finish is Important.  Don't make the mistake of choosing matte paint for walls.  This should only be used on ceilings.  A matte finish will show every last bump and scrape on your walls.  It's also impossible to clean.  I always go with an eggshell finish for walls, and semi-gloss for trim.  
9.  Try Green Paint.  I highly recommend using a low VOC formula.  This type of paint doesn't offgas, which means no paint fumes.  And its also good for the planet, which is always a bonus in my book.
 10.  And remember, its just paint.  You can paint over it if you hate it!


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  1. Thanks for a great post on wall paint. I found this post while surfing the web for Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. This is a good one baby. I had no idea all the things you thought thru to pick our colors.

  3. This is a really great post. Very helpful.


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