Hi there – I apologize for my unexpected absence last week. I was ill and I couldn’t even think about blogging or house projects…and you know it’s bad when I’m not thinking about house projects. I’m feeling much better (thanks for all your well wishes), and I’m ready to get back on the blogging wagon.
So let’s talk paint, shall we? If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know how much I love paint. Like, I LOVE paint. I don’t just love it, I’m passionate about it. Some people are into cooking, or gardening, or astrophysics…I’m into paint. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything there is to know about the stuff, but I do know a thing or two (mostly learned through trial and error) so I thought I’d do a series of posts sharing what I know. I’ll do a post at the end of the series attempting to answer your highly intelligent questions. And I’m going to begin by talking about paint in the context of painting a room, rather than painting furniture. I’ll talk about furniture later, though.
The first step, obviously, is choosing a great paint color. After MUCH experience over the years with choosing colors I just can’t live with, I’ve learned to follow a few “rules”…for my own good:
1) Figure out what colors you love AND what colors you can actually live with. The two things may or may not be the same thing. I’ve tried repeatedly to paint rooms robin’s egg blue just because I love it so much…but I simply can’t live with it. For some reason, it just hits me as being too sweet and too pastel-y and too “energetic”. I’ve learned that I need to stick with more neutral, muted and serene colors to be happy. But that’s just me. You need to figure out what YOU respond to, and what makes YOU happy.
2) Find a source of inspiration: fabric, sofa, pillow, drapes, a piece of furniture, a painting…whatever. It’s easiest to pick a great color for a room if you have at least one other decorative detail in the room to branch out from. For instance, let’s say your starting point is a patterned pillow (like this Simone pillow from Pottery Barn).
There are so many different colors to “pull” from this pillow, but it definitely gives you a “range” to work with.
I then pulling out my trusty paint cards (grab a bunch at your local store) and fan decks (you can buy them at Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams) and start holding up colors against the fabric. Many colors will obviously NOT match, but others will be possibilities. Once you’ve narrowed down the colors to several options that could work start analyzing those colors very closely against the fabric. Look at the undertones of the colors vs. the fabric. Do the colors lean more green or more yellow? Are they brighter or more muted?
3) Once you’re down to a handful of options, go to the store and invest in paint samples! I can’t stress this step enough. Colors will look so different in “real life” than they do on a card. You can paint the samples on the wall if you like, but I like to paint them on pieces of paper or poster board so A) they’re not permanent, and B) I can move them around to see them in different lights and in different parts of the room. It’s really important that you see the colors throughout the day, so you can make sure you like it as much in the morning light as you do in the evening light.
Other tips on choosing a paint color:
- You’re generally better off choosing colors that are less “saturated” (or bright) and that have more gray in them. I don’t mean you have to choose a gray color, I just mean that less saturated colors are easier on the eye than brighter colors.
- Be aware of other elements in the room, i.e. the color of the flooring, wood tones (I’ll talk about wood more later), and the color of adjacent rooms (I’ll also talk about that more).
- Be aware of the size of the room, and the presence of or lack of natural light. For example, my bedroom gets plenty of natural light so I could go with a medium value on the walls (value: lightness and darkness). My master bath on the other hand has NO natural light, so while I painted it the same color as my bedroom, I had the color lightened to compensate for the lack of light. Amazingly, though, to the eye they look the same.
- Walk into a paint store and choose a color on the spot.
- Assume that great color in your friend’s house or on a blog will work for you. It very well might, but you stand the best chance of being happy if you at least get a sample first.
Can you think of anything I didn’t cover about choosing a great color for a room? I’ll talk about other aspects of painting later, but let me know if there’s anything else you want to know about choosing a color for a room.
Have a great Monday!