Michelle Plotnik, Architect | Should I Paint?
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Should I Paint?

Now that many of us are spending more time at home, some of us are getting inspired to do a few updates in our home or garden. Now’s probably not the time to start tearing out walls unless you are very handy but a fresh coat of paint in the spaces you use the most can make a world of difference. I’ve been helping clients with color selections on a couple of projects and choosing just the right paint color can be very challenging. There are so many things to consider but there are resources out there that can help.

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First, if you are painting walls within an open space, it’s wise to consider how those walls relate to other colors that already exist and are visible in adjacent spaces. Existing colors, lighting, and even window orientation can change how a color looks in a space. Always, always, always, sample paint in the space that you will be using it. Don’t rely on small color swatches to make a decision. Large samples on the wall are best but I would caution you not to paint a very dark or bright color on the all as it may be difficult to cover up with your final selection. A new option is peel and stick samples from Samplize. You may order largish samples that can be moved around to see how they look under various conditions and in different locations. They only offer colors from a few companies but those are some of the best, more on that below. Not only are these samples convenient, but they are also cost-effective, and far more environmentally friendly than the alternatives. One of my favorite blogs about paint is the one by Kylie M. and she’s recently done a great review of Samplize here along with some tips on how best to use them.

All designers have their own ideas about paint schemes, feature walls, accent colors, paint sheens, and, of course, their favorite brands. Kylie M. addresses many of those issues in her blog along with lots of suggestions for the “best” colors for different applications. I personally prefer paint from Dunn Edwards, Benjamin Moore, Behr, and Sherwin Williams but when you are painting a single room or wall it may make sense to just purchase paint from your local hardware store. Just about all of them have the ability to color match to another brand’s products so you using Samplize is still a possibility. Just choose paint from one of their premium lines if you want it to hold up well.

I prefer to use relatively flat paints for walls and ceilings, even in wet spaces like Kitchens and Baths. I’ve had very good luck with sheens just one up from dead flat or products described as flat enamels (they aren’t really enamel). In Dunn Edwards, I generally go with the Velvet sheen while I tend to Eggshell in Benjamin Moore. For doors, trim, and cabinetry, you’ll want something with more sheen for durability. I also like to end colors at inside corners for the cleanest look. This is particularly important if you have rounded corners. Watch for rounded corners on soffits as well as you’ll need to determine where the best place to make a color change will be.

When I’m evaluating a collection of colors and materials, I like to place them on a neutral or compatible background in an area with lighting similar to where the paint will be used, at home in the actual space is always best. Then I like to squint and see if the colors appear to blend or anything jumps out in either a good or not so great way. Remember that colors may look different on a vertical surface than on a horizontal surface. When working with existing finishes that you don’t love, you’ll have to decide whether it’s best to work with those colors or ignore them and try to bring the focus away from them until you can change them out in the future.

Whether you plan to hire a painter or do it yourself, preparing the surface is every bit as important as your choice of paint so plan to clean, repair, and prime or block any spots that may bleed through before you get started.

There’ll be more on my thoughts on creating a color scheme for your project in future posts. In the meantime, have fun. There is lots of additional inspiration to be had at sites like Houzz and Pinterest and even on the paint manufacturers’ own sites. Stay safe, stay home, and take advantage of hardware stores offers of curbside pickup or delivery when you can.