|Photo by Restoration Hardware|
If there's one thing I'm asked about most, it's choosing paint colors. There's an overwhelming variety of color to choose from, and it can intimidate even the most stylish and confident among us. While I'm reluctant to recommend specific colors, as I don't believe that there's a one-size-fits-all solution for every person and every space, I do rely on a specific process to choose the right colors for clients. If you follow these steps it will make the decision making process easier and more successful.
- Our perception of color is entirely dependent upon light. DO NOT choose colors in the paint store. The crazy bright fluorescent lighting there makes colors look completely different than they will in your home.
- Choose a brand (or two) that you like and order a few fan decks of paint colors. You can order some of these online, or get them at a paint store. Benjamin Moore is a good place to start. It's readily available, moderately priced, and good quality. I also love Pratt and Lambert and Farrow and Ball. They're higher end and more expensive, and their colors are beautiful and sophisticated. There really is a difference in the quality of the paint, but most people don't feel the need to pay more for premium paint when good paint will do. I often do a color match of the higher end colors in more affordable paint.
- Restoration Hardware has a great line of low VOC neutral paint colors, and they sell their fan deck for $10 on their web site. They and many other retailers also offer sample sized paint cans. Pottery Barn has a special line of colors with Benjamin Moore, and the color finding tool on their website helps you locate the colors that are used in the images in their catalog. Serena and Lily sells their samples as pre-painted sheets of paper that you simply attach to the wall, no painting required.
- Take your fan deck around to each room you'll be painting and look at the colors in the room. Try not to pay attention to the color names, they can sway your opinion of the color itself. The colors next to the sample you're looking at will also skew your perception, so cover them with your hands to isolate the sample you like.
- When you find one you like, mark it with a sticky flag along with the room name. I recommend also trying one or two close-but-not-the-same versions of the color. You may be surprised by which one you like best on a large scale.
- Make sample boards of each color you like. I get white foam core boards, approximately 24"x15", and paint one color on each board. Be sure to write the brand and color name on each board. Tape these to a wall, and take a look. If you have multiple samples for one room, be sure not to place them close to each other. You want to see each color on its own, not in relation to its neighbor. It's best to look at the samples throughout the day so you can see how the color looks in different types of light. Also try looking at the color on different walls in the room.
- Trust your instincts. You should absolutely love the colors you choose. If you have any doubts, the color probably isn't right for you; go back and try again. Getting it just right is worth this small inconvenience.