Design 101 - How to Choose the Right Paint Color
So you decided to paint a room your favorite shade of deep orange, only to have it turn out far more 'Carnival Fun' than 'Autumn Harvest'. Getting just the right shade of color on your walls (with so many to choose from!) can seem overwhelming, but I'm here to show you how easy it can be with a bit of patience and a few simple steps.
Let's start at the beginning...
1. Color Samples/Swatches
-You know, the paper ones! A quick visit to the home improvement or paint store can provide you lots of options for that color 'you have in mind'. Bring home these colorful cards in any shades you think might work.
-Invest in or borrow a color deck. Fan it out and let groups of colors inspire you.
-Of course there's an app for that too...use one of the many available paint color apps to browse colors, color match and more; allowing you to 'gather' shades you like. (I use Color Smart by Behr, Valspar Project Paint, Sherwin Williams ColorSnap, and many more...)
-Don't be afraid to pick lots of options at this point. Have fun and be inspired!
2. Trust Yourself
-Now it's time to start looking at the great colors you've gathered in your project space.
-Take all the colors and spread them out! On the floor, on a table, even a large tray works well if you'll need to move them.
-Look at them often but don't over examine. Sit with them, walk by them, glance at them several times a day and see how they affect you.
-Trust yourself! Weed out any obvious 'No’s’ as soon as you feel it.
-(Super important!) Continue watching the colors in different light; natural light, using overhead fixtures and lamps, sunny days, cloudy days, etc. Again, weed out the immediate 'No’s.’ And like magic, your favorites begin to really shine.
-Continue this process for at least a week. (I know it seems like a long time, but trust me!) You want to look at these swatches in as many light conditions as possible.
-And remember, you have to watch them in YOUR project space. This is the only place to observe the true color, really!! (I promise it won't look the same at the paint store, in your car, or at your BFF's dining room table.)
3. The Semi-Finalists
-Now that your favorites, or as I like to call them the 'semi-finalists' have emerged, these are the shades that really speak to you. The next task is to choose just the right one...
-Ideally at this point, you should have two to five semi-finalists. This will allow you (in the next step) to see how your favorites will truly look on your walls. (You haven't looked at any actual paint yet, but you're about to...)
4. Wall Test!
-As a designer I consider this the most important step!!!!! (Did I use enough exclamation points?)
-Get small paint sample containers made of your semi-finalists. Most paint brands offer this special size. Keep in mind that most samples only come in one finish, such as semi-gloss or flat, and might not be the finish you will ultimately choose for your project.
-You'll also need some inexpensive brushes, painter's tape, and a marker.
-My preference is always to test directly on the walls if possible. It's the only way to see a true, true result. However, sometimes certain parameters don't allow for that and there are other ways to get close (enough) to a true result. The two alternatives I use are foam core boards (found at most paint or art/craft supply stores) OR a peel and stick, removable paint panel (found at most home improvement stores). All three test methods will work, the testing itself it the most important thing!
-So go ahead and test away...I like to paint a good eight inch square of each color on several walls. Are you wondering why I said several walls? It sounds like a lot of test squares, but color can vary dramatically from wall to wall (I've seen it many times!).
-Label the squares on one wall with the tape and marker. This will serve as your 'key', but will keep the tape from interfering visually with the samples on every wall.
5. Trust Yourself (again!)
-We are going back to the above step of trusting yourself. I know you truly know what you like and by getting here you really like each of these semi-finalist colors...but now that you can really see them on your walls, how do they make you feel?
-That's the key right there! Color evokes mood and feeling, and that's ultimately what you're trying to achieve when you paint a space.
- So again, watch, look at, walk by (feel!!) your test colors often. Continue to experience them under as many different conditions as possible for at least another week or so. (Yes, another week or so.)
-Which one feels 'just right'?
6. The Chosen One
-Hopefully your favorite color has jumped from the wall and shouted 'it's me!'. If so, then you have a painting job ahead of you:)
-But if you've gone through each step thoroughly, given your selection(s) time and patience, yet still find you have two really favorable choices...then I can honestly say, either one should work and provide you the aesthetic you want. (Sort of a six-of-one, half dozen of another kind of thing.)
-If you have more than two finalists, well, then you need to continue spending time with your colors.
-And lastly, you still have your choice of finish; flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, high gloss. Typically ceilings are flat, walls are eggshell or satin, trim work is semi-gloss, and specialty details finished high-gloss. But as you know, I'm an 'outside-of-the-box' kind of girl, I love to change up finishes. This is a great opportunity to add a unique quality and pizzazz to your space, and really shine your personality into your project. I encourage you to give extra consideration to the finishes you choose...(Oh the possibilities!)
Because we usually want our projects done 'yesterday', it's so tempting to quickly pick a paint color at the store and just go with that choice. And occasionally you luck out and it happens to work, (and I'm not saying I've never done it myself) but more often than not, it's not quite right. When you are investing time and resources in the place you call home, isn't spending a bit of time to get the result you want worth it? In my own design practice I use this process consistently, with spot-on results. So when choosing your next paint color spend some time to work through the selection process. Your time is truly worth the investment to help you get just the right paint color.