Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to select paint colors for a whole house

This is a question I've been asked frequently by many of my friends and readers. I thought I'd go over some of my best advice based on my experiences and adventures in selecting paint colors!

1. Take your time. If you have the luxury of living in your space before selecting paint colors for the entire house, do it! It can be daunting to be pressured into selecting so many paint colors all at once, so take the pressure off of yourself and give it some time. Once you get a better feel for your space, and have spent some time living in it, color selection might even come naturally. If you have big ticket items to purchase for a room, it's an especially good idea to wait on painting it. It's always easier to match paint to something like an area rug or sofa, rather than the other way around!



2. Gather inspiration. There are so many wonderful places to look for inspiration. Pinterest is one great place to start, as are decor magazines, decorating blogs, or even a friend or family member's home that you admire. Once you find some images or real-life homes that you love, go to your local paint store and grab some swatches. Tape them up on your walls, narrow down your favorites, and then go buy some samples!



3. Samples are key. It's always worth it to spend a few dollars on a sample jar or can of paint! It's nearly impossible to tell from the tiny swatches how a color will really look on your walls. Once you have your sample colors up on the wall, look at them for a few days in all different types of light to get a real feel for how the color will appear in your space.

original source unknown


4. Consider long term plans for the space. Will any of your rooms transition to serve another purpose (like changing a guest room into a nursery)...will these colors still work for it? Will you be moving in the next few years...are you willing to repaint if necessary for resale?



5. Less is more. Sometimes selecting from a smaller range of colors for an entire home can make it feel more cohesive, overall. Consider staying within a palette of similar colors with some neutrals mixed in for a sophisticated look. Don't feel like you have to pick a totally different color for every room in your home! It can be jarring to walk through a home that is painted every color of the rainbow. Don't be afraid to use the same paint color twice. If you like a color in your foyer, maybe it could also work in your half bathroom? Not only does this save your sanity, but maybe your wallet too!



6. Look in your closet. What do you see? Do you have mostly black, white and gray pieces and a few colorful accessories in the mix? This might mean you'd be happy sticking with neutral walls in most of your rooms and throwing in some pillows and rugs for pops of color. If you have lots of colorful pieces, maybe you'd feel more at home with color on your walls too!



7. Think about your style. For a traditional feel in your home, stick with what I like to call "muddy" colors. For example, a color from Benjamin Moore's Historical Collection:

Benjamin Moore Jamestown Blue


For a more modern and fresh look, choose "clear" colors, like this one:

Benjamin Moore Sea to Shining Sea


More color tips:

  • Colors always appear darker/more saturated when they're on all 4 walls of your room. When in doubt, go one shade lighter than the color you're considering.
  • Paint your sample colors on a piece of poster board or cardboard and tape it to your wall instead of painting the wall directly to avoid unattractive swatches on your walls. This is especially helpful if you don't plan on painting immediately.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Do you have any tips of your own to share? Let me know in the comments!

If you have more specific questions about color, please contact me! I'd be more than happy to help with your color dilemmas!

4 comments:

  1. I'm starting to look at properties to buy within the next 6 months, and I can't wait to paint again. I have to LOL at your tip about picking one shade lighter....in college I had an apartment and I picked a pretty tan shade to paint the walls. It was very nice on the paint chip, but once I got it on the walls, I wish I had picked one shade lighter! ;-)

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  2. That's awesome! Congrats!
    LOL that is too funny...it's happened to me several times! So not fun!

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  3. Rachel - what a great post! So helpful! I do search around for inspiration but I'm risky. lol I don't do samples, just go with my guy/my favorite and thankfully it always works out! ;)

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  4. Thank you! LOL, you are just so talented you don't need the samples, that's all!:)

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