c is for color.
this is a tough one. nothing has given me more trouble since i bought my townhouse (sounds so much more sophisticated than 2-story condo, doesn’t it?) than color. for someone who has made a career in designing, you’d think i’d have the upper hand with this one. i don’t. when it comes to putting color on walls…i suck.
let this post serve as a lesson for you. don’t do what i did. i made the first mistake in selecting paint color. i went into Lowe’s, totally blind, and just started picking green swatches i liked. i grabbed them willy nilly. i was quite literally saying to myself “i like this shade” and “mmm that could look like baby poop” and sometimes even “wow that looks like someone’s grandma’s” – and left the store with a handful of green swatches. my next step was just picking one i liked. didn’t match it to anything, just picked a color. bad, bad idea. my dad decided to surprise one week day when he was off work. he painted the kitchen for me. being the great dad he is he busted out a solid heavy first coat and didn’t miss a spot – he was proud. he called me, super excited, and wanted me to go check out the first coat and see what i thought.
wait for it…
i haaaated it. i didn’t just not like it. the first words out of my mouth (thank heaven dad wasn’t with me when i took in the wonder of the walls for the first time) were: oh my gosh this is awful it looks like mint ice cream or an old lady’s house of florida, we have to get rid of it. honest. it was terrible. and it definitely didn’t belong in my kitchen – or anywhere in my humble abode as far i was concerned.
what’d i do next? sought advice. i talked to friends of my parents who just painted all the rooms in their house. i asked how they selected colors and if they had any pointers. they did. their suggestion is one i would highly recommend, it helped me immensely and got me much farther than just “liking” a color and going for it.
my second attempt involved picking a color i liked, and buying a sample of it (you know, those itty bitty pots of paint they have at Lowe’s and Home Depot that cost a whopping $5). spend the $5 and buy a sample, trust me. then, go to an arts and crafts store and buy a big ole piece of foam core and a foam paint brush. use your cheap foam brush to paint the foam core with the sample paint. behold, you have a better than ever and larger than life paint swatch. you can hold it up to furniture, appliances, adjoining walls, ceiling, carpet/tile, lighting, wherever. it’s ingenious, and seriously helpful. and it’s cheaper than spending $45 like i did on the wrong paint.
eventually, i called a friend of my mom’s that is an interior decorator. she helped me finalize my colors, and ultimately sent me in a new direction – to sherwin-williams (best decision ever, awesome paint, even better customer service experience). having that giant swatch along with a similar colored coffee mug guided us in the right direction. she was able to get a good understanding of what i was aiming for and we found the right color in no time. and go figure…the paint i chose was called sassy green. says so much about my personality, doesn’t it?
other tricks i learned:
- don’t be cheap, if you buy inexpensive paint, it’s not going to go on as well, and you’ll wind up wasting time applying more coats – and you’ll need more paint
- always primer a wall if you’re going to paint it red – i learned this lesson the hard way and we wound up putting a solid 6 (no lie) coats of red in my half-bath. i’m still not sure how i’m living to tell you about this…
- don’t go too bold or too trendy. it’ll get old and is bound to go out of style, sooner than you want to start painting again.
- know which walls need a semi-gloss, which ones need a high-gloss (not many), and which walls are better off flat.
any of you out there in reader land have helpful hints on choosing color? how’d you do it? what worked, and what didn’t? tell me your story!
humble home owner, loving her color palette and glad there’s no more walls to paint