what I do

what I do

Friday, February 18, 2011

Choosing a paint color - a few suggestions

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Often when I am at the paint store I watch people struggle to select a color from the library of swatches they have on display. Just recently I was at Home Depot trying to find a match to a Benjamin Moore color for an out of town client. While I was there I overheard a couple arguing about the colors they were trying to select for their new home. It was painful to listen to them because neither one of them was going about it the right way. I felt bad because I knew they were making a mistake and they didn't know any better so I walked over to help them. 

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The following are a few tips I shared with them: 
1. You should not select a color based on a 1" swatch of color. 
2. But if you insist on doing it, take the color down a shade. The color will intensify when it is up on the walls. 
3. The lighting in a store is going to be different then the lighting in your house and the paint chip will look very different when you get it home, so at the very least, take the swatch home and look at it in your own lighting before making a decision.


The best way to select a color is to have a large enough swatch to be able to really see the true color. I like to paint a poster board size sample and I use foam core so that it can stand up on its own. I prefer to paint my samples on a board rather than on the wall directly so that I can move the sample from wall to wall and from room to room to see what the color does in different lighting. 

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Another important thing to consider is what you are putting your sample against. Different colors affect each other and can make a swatch look wrong just because you have it up against a conflicting color. I solve this by keeping the edge of my sample white. When I am painting my samples, I tape the edges with blue painter's tape to keep the edge clean. I write the name of the color on the back so that when I am testing colors I am not swayed by knowing what color it is. 

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A lot of paint companies are now offering small size paint samples. These are great. The 2 oz. samples that Benjamin Moore sells for $4.99 perfectly cover the poster boards that I use with two coats. Always paint your samples with at least two coats.

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And finally, remember that paint will look different in every space and at different times of day. A wall color that looks great in one house may not look great in another.  I have my tried-and-true colors that I love but I always check them in each space I am thinking about using them in. What looks good in one room, may not in another depending on the amount of light the room gets and the surrounding decor. Matching your new paint color to the existing elements in your room (your woods, your fabrics, etc.) is another factor to take into consideration which is another reason why selecting a paint color in the store is not a good idea.

Canadian Home and Country via House of Turquoise
House of Turquoise
House of Turquoise

7 comments:

Kellie Collis said...

Loving that turquoise room with the chandelier! So fabulous! Have a lovely weekend, Kellie xx

lisaroyhandbags said...

Great pointers - I often see people choosing colours under the fluorescent lights of a paint store when they are intended for exteriors or a living room with warm light bulbs. I love the sample pots available now too - makes for much easier choosing! btw: that first turquoise bedroom is gorgeous! :)

Prizler Photography said...

Well colour me crazy, but I'm thinking the teal will go fun with my chartreuse door too. Grab the can and let's go!

annie said...

I love that all white room with the one turquoise wall and that beautiful chandelier. Great tips on choosing paint colors.

Deb said...

Well I hope that couple was grateful! How nice of you to help them out.

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

Great advice, did they at least thank you for your help? I even go as far as asking in clothes shops about their returns policy because the colour can look so different in natural light and I might not like it after all... Have a lovely weekend xo

classic • casual • home said...

Great advice...TEST on the wall. Even still, I have made some bad picks over the years...thank God it's just paint. :)
Mary Ann