Friday, October 18, 2013

6 Tips For Picking The Perfect Paint Color

Picking a paint color can be arduous task. There are thousands of versions, of every color.
So how do you pick?
This is a question I get from so many of my clients. So I thought we could address it here.

To start, you need to ask yourself a couple questions, even write them down...It helps to stay focused on what your looking for.

-What room are you painting?
-How much natural lighting does the room get?
-How is the room used, and how much time do you use it?
-How do you want the room to feel?
-Is the room joined to other rooms?

Picking The Perfect Paint Color

First, to pick the perfect paint color, you need to know a little about paint. I wont bore you with all the details, just the important stuff. There are two main schools of color, warm, and cool. Sometimes it may be hard to tell the difference looking at a wall of paint chips, at your local hardware store.

Some companies, display the cool on the left and the warm on the right, this is always helpful.
A cool color has a blue undertone to it, and a warm color has a yellow undertone to it.
This may seem confusing, especially if you are looking at a blue, trying to figure out how there is yellow in it.

These top colors, are cool colors, they may lean more toward a pastel look, usually a bit brighter.
The bottom colors, are warm colors, they have more of a yellow or brown base to them. They feel softer, more casual and soothing, and not as bright.

In my experience a warm color is usually a good pick, for most decor and schemes. A contemporary or modern decor, works well with cool colors. Tuscan, and traditional decor works well with warm colors. 
This same cool/warm rule applies to all the colors, from whites, to browns.

Second, You need to address the questions asked earlier.
-What room are you painting? Kitchen, living room, bedroom, or the whole house?
-How much natural lighting does the room get? Are there lots of windows to bring in the natural lighting, this will alter how the color looks. If you have florescent bulbs, say in a kitchen, this can change the color completely, adding more of a blue tint to the paint.
-How is the room used, and how much time do you use it? Is this space just for sleeping, a kitchen used daily, or a formal living room just to walk by? If you don't spend alot of time in a room, you may be able to go bolder, branch out of your comfort zone. If it is a space like a bedroom, you may want a softer soothing feeling. Waking up to red walls, can be a jolt in the morning. A powder bath, a place that is used frequently, but for small periods of time, is a great place to do something a bit more wild or punchy.

-How do you want the room to feel? What mood do you want to convey, cheery, energetic, relaxing, or just open. A guest bedroom, should probably feel like a calming, inviting retreat, soft blues, and greens help do this.  You may want your master bedroom, to feel like a resort hotel, with a crisp clean color, maybe in a grey or putty color. If you want your small kitchen to feel more open, a light and bright color is best, whites, and creams.  The mood your trying to set will be reflected from your decor, but that should all start with your paint color.

-Is the room joined to other rooms? Where do the rooms, stop and start? Does one wall, go into a whole other room? Is your living, kitchen, and dining area, all one room? If so, one color for the whole area is best.

Thirdly, you will want to pick a basic color  that will work for you, reds, creams, greens, blues?

Grab some paint chips at the paint department, grab tons, even ones your not that sure about. It helps to see the bad ones, and  it makes the good look better.  Look at the colors, in your lighting, in your space. Place them against something white, a poster board is a good tool to use here. Lay the colors out, and weed through them. You will start to notice how colors the colors pull towards different palettes, some are more orangey, others are more towards a berry tone, having them all laid out together, like in this picture. See what your most drawn to, brighter, or more neutral, softer colors

Fourth, will be value of color. This is the light to dark on the color strips. This is a good way to look at the colors, you can see what the step up and down from a color is. You can use these colors throughout  the rooms, and in the decor as well. If you are trying to open up a room, stay toward the top two colors on the strip. For a furniture picece, or an accent wall, head toward the bottom colors. You can bring in fabrics, from the middle range to balance it all out. If you have a larger, more open room, you can pick colors from the middle. Just remember your lighting, if you don't have much light, your colors will appear much darker on your wall, than on the swatch. Tons of natural light, and the color can appear much lighter than the swatch.

Once you decide on a color, keep this strip with you.  When shopping for decor, it is a good jumping off point, to stay in the same color range. So you don't go with a more aqua-blue, rather than a grey-blue.

Fifth, narrow it down to a couple colors, these are usually in a similar range. Grab some sample sizes from the paint department at your local hardware store, these are usually $2-4 each, so grab as many as you need. But don't go overboard, spouses don't usually like to see 50 paint choices, and you will just overwhelm yourself.

Most people try to slap the paint right on a wall. I don't recommend this for several reasons. One coat of a sample paint, is not enough to cover up your existing wall color. You need at least two coats of the sample color. Putting it directly on your wall brings in another problem, the color that is already on your wall will change how you perceive the sample color. For example, if your changing to a cream base, and your walls are in a green tone now, the sample will appear to be more green, or much more towards another palette than it actually is.
It is true, that a color will take on different tones, in different areas of your house. You may already notice this with your current color. Hallways can look darker, while  the wall near a window, may tend to look several shades lighter, or greener that the rest of the walls. If your painting an entire house with one color, you want to take your time with this. You can always repaint, but you don't want to have to take on the task again, or have to pay someone to do it twice.

The best solution for this is to put the paint onto a poster board. Paint at least half, of a whole sheet, two coats. 

Then label the back with the name color, especially if you got lots of samples. Cut it up into pieces that are at least 4-5 inches wide, the smaller it is the harder it will be to visualize. 

Place some tape on the back of the pieces, and stick them in different areas of the room you are trying to paint. 
If you are doing a big common area, that includes more that one room, make more samples. Put them near windows, against door frames, next to the ceilings, by cabinets, behind furniture pieces, and also on the floor.

 The floor will be your most accurate color with the base boards, lighting, and flooring nearby, and no other wall color to compete. The samples next to permanent pieces, like ceilings, and trim, will also be quite accurate.  Don't just slap them in the middle of them wall. 

When your looking at these colors, also do so at different times of day, in different lighting. In the morning, they will look different than at night. Start taking down the ones in each area that don't work for you. You may not be taking the same color of out of the running, in each area. If most of your choices are the same color, pick the largest focal area choice, to be the color. The hallway is not as important as say, the living room.  You could break it up and pick 3 colors, for 3 different areas, but if you don't have to, I'd try to narrow it down to one color. I realize alot of things can come into play with open areas, wood tones, rock or brick elements, lighting, cabinet colors, and carpet tones. So it can be tricky!

Six, painting the color, whether you do it yourself, or hire someone to paint for you. Remember not to freak out on the first pass of paint. You will see the underneath color come through, and your color may look super stark white, or way to bold against your current color. Wait until you get the whole room painted, and it's dry, to get a real feel for the true color. 

Prepping the walls, and using the right paints can make all the difference. I will dive into that on another post. 
Good luck, and remember you can ALWAYS paint over it!

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