In need of a (lockdown) pick-me up these days? My husband and I have been using this unprecedented time at home to tackle DIY decorating, renovating, and organizing projects, and nothing can lift one’s spirits like freshening up your interior paint. Painting makes such a huge impact without breaking the bank, can be done without the help of contractors, and I find it incredibly therapeutic. Convinced to give it a go? Before you pull out the rollers and frog tape, check out my top 6 tips for selecting interior paint.
- Always Buy a Tester. When decorating my first home I made the rookie mistake of selecting a color solely by a paint chip sample. After painting my entire living room that lovely shade of yellow, I quickly realized it looked rather putrid in our space (which had limited natural light). I lived with it for a bit trying to convince myself it wasn’t that bad, then reluctantly repainted. Looking at paint samples in a store, online, or even in someone else’s home is only the first step in paint selection. Any hue you choose will look wildly different based on a room’s lighting. For instance, I have one of my favorite colors, Benjamin Moore Pleasant Valley, in both our guest room and master bath. In our sunny bath it has a spa-green vibe, yet in our shadier guest room it appears blue. The point is, you need to put any paint sample you’re considering on a large portion of your wall, and closely observe how it looks in various lighting throughout the day.
- Look to your Closet for Inspiration. A lot of people have no idea where to begin when it comes to picking paint colors. And rather than impulse buy a shade that’s not really you, I suggest looking in your closet and noting the tried and true colors and patterns you most enjoy wearing, because these too will be what makes you happiest seeing on a daily basis at home. While one may have little experience with home decorating, we have all been picking out our clothing for years. It is no surprise when looking at my own closet that I find a sea of white, gray, black, and navy blue, which also make up my interior home color pallet.
- Limit your Pallet. I get it. Paint colors are fun, but too many different hues in a home become a visual headache. I suggest picking three colors you love (not including trim work), that play nicely with each other, and use them exclusively throughout the home. This may seem rigid, but don’t forget you are working with lots of additional tones from wood work, hardware, and furnishings that also participate in the overall color scheme. Repeating decorative finishing such as paint gives one’s home a strong sense of cohesion and identity. In cases such as a child’s bedroom where it’s tempting to mix things up a bit, try adding pop and personality with less fixed accents such as pillows and artwork.
- Choose Complimentary Colors. One’s home ideally should feel like a composition rather than a series of unrelated rooms. Repeating finishes, as discussed above, is great way to achieve this, and so too is selecting a complimentary color pallet. A color wheel can be helpful for identifying complimentary hues on opposites sides of the wheel, as well as for helping the home owner stick to either an all warm or cool scheme if so desired. When testing potential paint colors in your home, pay attention to how each color interacts with all other rooms in sight to assure hues work well together and create a nice flow. Another important tip is to make sure you’re choosing either a lighter or darker hue when changing paint colors from one room to the next. For example, you don’t want to move from, say, a light-yellow room to a light blue room. It’s much more visibly appealing to move from light yellow (or gray), to a darker hue such as navy. If this is all sounding like a total headache, many paint websites have suggestions for complimentary color pallets. Pick one hue you love, and let the experts help find complimentary colors to add to your scheme.
- Save the Drama for Small or Formal Spaces. Dark colors can feel overbearing in large spaces, particularly if you have an open-concept home. There is still, however, a place for more dramatic tones, or even wallpaper in any home. I suggest selecting a more dramatic tone for one of the hues you choose in your color pallet (for me this my beloved Benjamin Moore Hale Navy!) and use it in smaller, less frequented spots in the home such as the powder room or formal dining space.
- Select the Right Sheen. Whatever paint colors you choose, it’s important to select the right sheen when purchasing. Put simply, the higher a sheen the shinier, and easier to clean it will be. I could go down a very deep rabbit hole of the different sheen selection for ceilings, walls, and trim (and yes, they all typically require a different sheen). But I suggest you simply tell the sales clerk at the paint store what you’re painting, and they should be able to point you in the right direction. If you are using, say, the same hue of white on your trim and your ceiling, make sure you label your paint cans for the specific use so you don’t get them mixed up.
Nervous about visiting your paint shop? Most hardware stores are still open for business, with online/phone ordering available and curbside pick-up during quarantine. Now that we are spending more time at home than ever, what better time to freshen things up with some pretty paint!