Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Pick the Right Paint Color...or House...

...or just about anything else!

So, long time no blog. Ah, such is life.  As noted by the sale in the post below, we just moved and the holidays came nipping at our heels before the boxes could even be unpacked--that could be the reason for the long silence here on the blog...or it could just be that I'm lame. But moving on (npi = no pun intended!)

This post is about decisions--design decisions, but feel free to apply to  your love life, eating habits, whatever! Why? Because I have vast expanses of beige/cream/off-white surrounding me.  This seemed like an awesome problem the weeks before moving into the house (and still is), but the reality of buying ALL. THAT. PAINT. and then painting ALL. THOSE. WALLS. and not screwing it up (because who really wants to go through that more than once per room?) is quite large and intense.  Not to mention all the other decisions that follow/coincide with the paint color choices.  So, in no particular order, I present, Steps for Picking the Right Paint Color: (no photos for now...I may come back and add some in later!)

Paintchips image from HERE

1.  Like it; no, LOVE it.  Sounds simple enough, but too many people these days are picking a color just because it's trendy--not only do they not LOVE it, they don't even like it! (I swear these missteps (mispaints?) are happening at 3x the previous pace since the inception of Pineterst (no offense little red button on my side bar, I still love you dearly!) I'm not immune (okay, so i've thought about painting the popular color as opposed to the LOVE it color..but I haven't (yet), therefore you should continue reading my list--credibility maintained! for now!) White on white is popular right now.  It's also hard to pull off.  Even if you pulled it off, would you LOVE it?

2.  LOVE it, but don't limit yourself to only slathering walls in colors you love.  Love kelly green? Great.  You might love it more as accent color in a light aqua room.  Even though you're drawn to that kelly green paint chip, a color that as a background makes kelly green look even more awesome may be the color for your walls. or not. it may just be kelly green floor to ceiling!  But don't limit your thinking to color crushes initially.

3. Take every single green paint chip and half of the yellow and blue ones home with you. Once you pick, say, green, you need to take home every imaginable shade of that color and even some of the peripheral colors. The lighting in the paint store lies. You'll often end up picking the color that, in the store, was by far the most unlikely player..the one that was too light, for sure too dark, much to plum or way too pink-ish. I promise. You get them home and line them up and they become entirely new colors. So just save yourself some time and take every single one home. Then start talking to yourself. Okay, this one's too light. I need one just like this, but a hint more maple to it. Okay, this is almost there, but not quite grayed out enough. Because you took home EVERY SINGLE OPTION, you'll get there. Once you're there, down to THE ONE, pick up the ones that were super close (you've now eliminated from 80 chips down to like 12). Leave those taped to the wall by a window. Or lined up on a bookshelf. That's step four, below.

4.  Sleep on it. Brush your teeth with it.  Make tea with it.  Spend a sunny Saturday with it and a late Thursday night while watching a movie.  Basically, date it.  Line those dang too-small squares and rectangles up in a row and stare at them for weeks...but more than stare at them...let them just be there.  I kept 20+ goldenrod/puke green chips lined up on my bathroom counter for over a month, just getting used to them.  This confirmed I was even in the right family of colors...and the more I got used to them, the easier it was to pick out the exact right shade, with laser precision. But, most importantly, just be around the color, in the room you plan to bathe in it.  Still love it after seeing it at it's best and worst light?  When you're in a good mood and when  you're honked off?  When you're cleaning like a manic and when you've collapsed into bed?  Great.  Off to the paint store!

5.  Think about the room in terms of the whole house.  I know, I room at a time.  Only attempt to paint one room at a time, yes...but be thinking about the house/apartment as a WHOLE when choosing your colors.  This goes for how the colors work together, as well as the overall mood you want for your house.  Which parts of the house should be more upbeat?  Is there a general level of "happy" or "serene" that you want to be carried throughout the whole house? As far as simply color logistics, don't end up using red* in your dining room only to discover the only color you will ever be happy with in your kitchen is green, but then find yourself stuck because you don't want "Christmas" happening and the rooms are side by side.  Then you have to repaint your dining room just so you can paint your kitchen green. And that's just dumb.  I don't think an entire house should be matchy-matchy...but you want a cohesive feel..or maybe variety is important..and you don't want to use up your favorite colors on rooms that aren't the best place for them.  I suggest drawing out a floor plan (or even just using cells on an Excel spreadsheet) with rooms next to each other as they appear in your house and the filling in colors (including trim and accent colors) beginning with those you are completely sold on.  It's like piecing a puzzle...the more pieces you figure out, the easier it is to figure out the remaining ones. I was completely baffled on what color to paint my dining room, but knowing what I wanted in the kitchen and hall and adjoining rooms almost made the decision for me, out of necessity of contrast and variety!  Seeing everything laid out helps you see what you're missing...have four "cool" rooms and two question marks?  I bet those question mark rooms would look good in "warm" colors!

*red is just an example to make a point.  please don't ever, ever paint a room red. esp. not a dining room...unless you REALLY know what you're doing. okay.

6.  Work with what you have.  And, on the flip side, don't limit yourself to what you have. Red trim you can't/don't want to paint?  Work with it!  Red trim you hate and can't imagine ever being okay with?  Don't paint the walls mint green just because some design book says red and mint green look good together.  Paint over the trim and be happy!  Tired of the tediousness, but happy!

7.  Steal a color. Go ahead.  Tiffany's blue.  Ochre from your favorite pair of gloves.  The color of your neighbor's front door (not for your front door, of course...but love it for your living room? do it!) But don't lock yourself in to an exact shade/saturation.  I wanted "Tiffany's blue" for the dining room of my first rental out of college--a dulled out version of the same color looked a LOT more refined and grown up than the aqua-y bright jewelry store gift bags.

8. Pay attention to what you wear.  If you have no idea where to even begin, just look in your closet. 

9.  Light.  Be aware of it, but not limited by it.  Just because they say don't paint a room too dark if it doesn't get enough light doesn't mean you can' just means you have to be comfortable with a cozy cave of a room!  If you are considering a dark color for either your bedroom or home office and just love the way it looks all awash in sunlight, put it in your office--you're there during the day and will appreciate it more at it's "best."  Use something in the bedroom that you love even by lamp light!  Unless your office and bedroom are the same room.  Then you're set! :)

10.  Think about accents NOW.  Yes, you can paint a room and then figure out everything else later, but why not pick the exact shade of blue that looks awesome with your green bookshelf and pottery collection?  Love navy and lavender together?  Grab some lavender paint chips (no, not for an accent wall, dummy!) and keep them up on the mantle next to your navy paint chips to help you figure out what shade of navy works best with the color that you plan to sprinkle throughout the room.

11.  Don't go too saturated.  Grass green in your yard and grass green on your wall are two different things.  Once a color is on all four walls, it bounces around and intensifies.  Super saturated colors are great, but just know what you're getting into before going from 3" paint chip to surround sound. (Yes, walls talk, loudly sometimes!).  That said, don't be a wuss.  Deciding on kelly green, but getting cold feet the moment the Lowes paint mixer kid asks you what color you need and impulsively pointing at the color 10 shades lighter on the opposite side of paint chip to "play it safe," will result in a half-assed, pale mistake.  Pick your color and then go with it.  Picking a lighter version is great, if during your paintchip elimination process you realize that exact shade is the key to an awesome room.  Picking a lighter version of the color you want because you're scared is not so great and, more importantly, won't look so good.

12.  Think long-term.  Again, back to the trendy offense to "trendy" colors or those who love them...I'm on a Coral kick myself right now! But, rather than thinking Will this still be trendy in ten  years? try thinking, Will I still love this in ten years? If you're painting a color to go with a massive bookcase or headboard you love...will you love that massive, bright piece of furniture for years to come?

13.  Do something unexpected.  In at least one room, paint a color you wouldn't normally gravitate toward...after vetting it with all the other steps listed here, of course!....but temper the unexpected with a contrasting/accent color that is a favorite, familiar hue.

14.  Go with your gut.  Because surprises around ever corner will not make for a calming retreat of a home. 

15.  Don't be paralyzed with fear.  It's only paint, people.  You can paint over it.  You can make do with it.  There are bigger fish to fry.  Some days.  Not today because all I can think about is paint...but you know what I mean!

16.  Don't paint your entire house beige or off white or cream just because you "like neutrals" and because the exotic name on the paint chip has fooled you into thinking it's a real color.  "Sandpiper," "Toasted Froth," "Monaco Sand," "Oat Straw*," and "Hazelnut Cream*" ARE NOT REAL COLORS. Just don't do it.  Don't. If a landlord at your rental property has put you in this jail, I am sorry, paint the heck out of large canvases and hang bright curtains everywhere and find a new, paint-friendly landlord ASAP, but if you are allowed to paint whatever color you want, THEN USE A FREAKING COLOR FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!! *rant over, even though I was just getting warmed up*

*Those last two, Oat Straw and Hazelnut Cream are supposedly real colors from Behr.  Don't let them fool you.  Those are not colors those are placeholders. puke.

17.  Take your time.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  Martha Stewart wasn't an adjective at 20 years old.  Besides, when you take your time and don't rush around willy-nilly with a paintbrush, happy accidents can happen, existing red trim can grow on you, your style has time to become, and your brain will naturally work these things out on it's own while you sleep (so say the scientists).  I'm still waiting to wake up from a dream in which my ceilings are either all painted or all left as-is...what. to. do. until. then?  Wait.

18.  If you're still at a loss, ask a friend who has good taste.  Or, if you're completely inundated by Pinterest/blog images, unplug for a bit...walk in a park...that maple leaf might be just the color you've been looking for.  Or, if you've been avoiding the internet like the plague, try immersing yourself in Pinterest, blogs, design books--completely flood your brain with colors and images and see what seems to float to the top! Or leave me a comment below and I'll try to help! :) Seriously, I'll help ya out!


Christina said...

Preach it sista! ;)

Robin said...

Great post, Stacey!