Mar 1, 2011

5 things i've learned the hard way:#4

thing i have learned the hard way #4:
always, always
use samples when painting.

i have picked out my fair share of paint colors 
over the years,and while i feel that i
have learned a lot of tips about selecting
paint that make it much easier,
it is still one of those "tricky" things
that sometimes still manages to 
cause me frustration.
here are a few tips to help you choose that
perfect paint color:
1. try to select a color that, on the
paint swatch, looks a little...
generally, paint colors go on the
wall a little bit lighter and brighter
than they look on a sample.
anyone who has ever tried painting a room
green or yellow KNOWS what i am talking about.
in particular, these two colors seem to be
a little more tricky to select than others.
in fact, just last week, i was at my friends house
for book club. she had just completed a 
kitchen remodel, and while the kitchen looks
fabulous, she was really unhappy with the paint 
color she chose.
she was going for "soft sage"
and ended up with "lime sherbet".
i told her the same advice i listed above:
go a little more "drab/dull/boring" than 
the color you are envisioning.

2. narrow your selection down to 2 or 3 colors,
and get samples.
painting a room is an investment...
when thinking about a budget for painting a room,
be sure to add $10-30 for samples.
if possible, take the paint swatches into
several different rooms in your  home,
and make sure to look at them in
different lighting. 
(natural light is always the best, though)
when selecting these samples,
try to get some diversity.
for instance, if you are looking to
paint your room a soft soothing blue,
pick the color that you THINK you are going 
to love, and then pick one that has just
a hint more green in it. 
do the same with any color...
looking for a nice, neutral gray?
pick a grey, and then pick one that
is just a little more "warm" than what 
you think you want. it is surprising
how different paint looks on the wall
than it does on that teeny, tiny sample.
another really useful tool when narrowing down your 
selection is to GOOGLE images of the paint
colors you are considering. chances are, that someone
has painted a room in their home that color
and uploaded them to a flickr stream or a blog.
it's a great way to get a sneak peek at what
the paint looks like when painted on the
walls if an entire room.
3. paint the samples on the wall in at 
least a 20" square, and make sure to get 
at least two coats.
if possible, paint the sample on a
sheet of poster board or a scrap of drywall-
 especially if painting a wall that already has a color on it.
the existing color can really skew your samples and make
them appear more pink or green or bright
than they will appear when the entire room is painted.
also, be sure to paint the samples on at least two walls.
lighting can dramatically effect the color of a
wall, and it is really important to see 
the colors on different surfaces/planes.

4. when selecting your final color,
be sure to give yourself enough time to see the
color at daytime and at night.
 the light in a room changes A LOT 
throughout the course of the day.
that pretty, soft yellow that looks fabulous
at night may look you are standing
inside a glass of country-time lemonade 
during the day. 
and that classy, soothing
blue that looks gorgeous in the morning
may look smurferrifically awful in the middle of the day.
(images: 1, 2,34, 5)
happy painting!


  1. These are really great tips! Picking out paint is always a nervwracking challenge. You don't want to be that person with the sherbet walls when you were going for something much softer and quieter. We're currently in the process of picking out colors for our living room remodel, so I will be sure to implement this advice!

  2. I love this series you are doing and I especially LOVE your new blog design. Gorgeous!! It's so you.

  3. Thanks for all the suggestions Autumn. I thought I had the perfect color for my very open first floor since I'd used it in a bedroom in my last house. What looked like a perfect shade of taupe in a room with two small windows looks anemic in my house that's filled with natural light. Live and learn.

  4. I need all the tips I can get. I fell into the green trap and ended up with Wrigley's Spearmint-esque green on my son's nursery walls the first try. I finally got it right with a soft blue.

  5. I'm so excited to read this because I'm in the process of picking a color for my bedroom. I didn't know I could get samples. Thanks for making it easier to complete my project.

  6. I find that last tip very useful, as I'm very worried (as well as excited) by having to choose the right colour of paint... I didn't need any convincing for your previous posts: I'm a "cotton only sheets-feathers only pillow" girl! Also, I'm choosing the new floor : I have tile samples everywhere in the house and they change rooms every now and then to see how they look!!