The Color Conundrum

Clearly, I love to paint. I can spend a couple of hours looking at paint swatches and call it a great afternoon. In fact, I do this fairly often. However, in the era of HGTV, Instagram and other sources, I think a lot of people get overwhelmed by the number of choices - colors, finishes, and means of application. I see them all the time. They agonize for weeks, even years over what color to paint the living room. It doesn't have to be this way!!!!! Below are my top ten tips for simplifying your paint selections next time you're ready to take the plunge. It should be fun and it can be fun.

  1. Keep telling yourself IT IS JUST PAINT - not a tattoo! If you hate it, you paint over it.
  2. Look in your closet and around your house. Pick 5-10 favorite things. What do they have in common? Is there a color that keeps popping up? If it's a neutral (white, gray, beige) look for paint in that family. If it's a bold or dark color, look for neutrals that work well with that shade.
  3. Invest in those little jars of sample paint. Several of them. Paint them ON THE WALL in big squares (at least 12"x12") and live with them for a few days. Notice how the color changes with the light throughout the day. If your samples don't work, try to pinpoint what it was you disliked and start over. Some colors may seem too yellow, too muddy, too pink - you get the idea.
  4. This is your home - not a set over at HGTV. Unless you are planning to move in the near future, choose colors that make YOU happy. (If you are planning to move, channel your inner Joanna Gaines or Property Brothers.) Remember that the shows and a lot of what you see are aimed at selling you something. And then selling you another thing. Gray is popular right now. If you hate gray (and you're not selling your house soon) don't paint your house gray. Go with the yellow you love and add some gray accents if you want something a little trendy.
  5. Don't be afraid to make a statement. Go bold if you're drawn to those colors. Small rooms, like powder rooms or kids' rooms, can look surprisingly great painted in a super bold/dark red or blue. 
  6. PIck an era. If you're particularly drawn to a certain time period, do a search on color palettes from that time. Most paint stores can match anything. Like the 50's? Pink, yellow, sky blue, and light green can be a fun palette to work with while making a statement about your style.
  7. Pick a location. What places have you been that hold the best memories. Is there a country you're fascinated with? While you don't want to create a beach house in the middle of Buffalo, you can certainly incorporate beachy colors. Do you dream of staying in an old farmhouse in Normandy? 
  8. Consider your actual life.  Before you settle on a finish for your paint, take a deep breath and think about how you and your family live. If you have small kids, an egg shell finish might not be the best choice. It's hard to keep clean. Do you have petswho spend a lot of time outside? These kinds of things can make your beautiful new paint job look sad quickly if you choose a finish that doesn't stand up to them.
  9. When trying to choose multiple colors, look at fabric for inspiration. Even if you don't sew, fabric can be a great way to see how colors can work together. Stroll through the fabric store and see what you're drawn too. Take pictures. If you really love something, go ahead and buy 1/8 yard and bring it home to see how the colors look in your own lighting. 
  10. Save all those little sample jars.  They come in handy for little projects - even if it wasn't the right color for your walls, it might be perfect for a picture frame or a step stool.