Archive for the ‘Series:Choosing Paint Colour’ Category

Summer Spruce Up!

If you want to add a little (or a lot) of punch to your room, create a feature wall! If your room does not have a real focal point, a feature wall will create one. You can do this quite easily and economically by painting or wallpapering one wall only in the room. The wall opposite the entry to the room is a classic choice. Or this could be the wall behind the headboard, in a bedroom or the wall behind the sofa, in the living/family room. Sometimes it is the wall surrounding the fireplace, that is treated as a feature wall.

To do this is quite easy. Wallpaper is back in style , but used on one wall only, as a feature wall. Pick a pattern that enhances the colour and style of the room. The paper can be simply a textured paper, like a grasscloth, or a printed version of a grasscloth, or it could be something bold in colour and design. That part is up to you!!

If you prefer quiet styles, stick to a textured pattern rather than a bold or graphic pattern. If the walls are light in colour, pick a darker shade of the same colour. You do not want it to stand out, you want it to add dimension and interest to your room.

If your room or home is quite modern in its decor, then go for a graphic paper or  a bold paint colour.

The alternative to paper is (obviously)  to paint, especially if you wish to update your decor a little without spending too much money. If you choose to make an accent wall with paint,  pick a darker colour than the rest of the room. You could have a big, bold colour to make a big, bold change or simply pick a darker version of the main colour in your room for a quieter update.

Another trick is to have the N & S walls a lighter colour and the E & W walls a darker or different colour. An example would be a muted (brownish) yellow for the lighter walls and a middle taupe for the darker walls. This trick can be stunning. The trick with this one is to have the colours not so far apart in tone that it is immediately apparent that the colours are completely different (such as red on one and blue on the other). The effect can be quite stunning

Paint does not have to be expensive. For a feature wall especially, go for the low cost paint. Even the effort it takes to paint just one wall, is not onerous, so go for it! You will be surprised how this perks up a room!


Read Full Post »

scan0070Prime. Prime. Prime. Always Prime first!

Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start is my favourite high adhesion primer. It goes on really well and gives a really good base for the new paint. All primers are not created equal. Make sure it is a high adhesion primer and is a good quality one. Bargain primers are runny and hard to apply and do not cover the old colour evenly at all. This is not the time to save money. The aggrevation created is not worth the savings.

Reasons for priming:

  1. If you want to put latex paint over oil paint or you don’t know if the existing paint on the walls is oil (alkyd) or latex, you have to prime with a high adhesion primer or you will run into trouble. It will be hard to put on and it will rub off when you are washing off fingerprints etc. Latex (water based) paint will not adhere well to Alkyd (oil based) paint. As the old saying goes, oil and water don’t mix.
  2. Unless your walls are white, the colour that is already on the wall will affect the new colour unless you put on numerous coats. A coat of white primer will help neutralize the old colour.
  3. Primer seals the old paint and polyfilla and evens out the colour changes created by any repairs that you have made. Your new paint goes on more evenly (and easily) and adheres better.

Tinted Primer

q Don’t get the primer tinted. To neutralize the old colour white is best. For instance, if you are putting yellow over bright blue, the yellow will end up having a greenish look that you don’t want, if you don’t prime with white. You can also use the rest of the can of white primer for other projects. It keeps forever if you seal the can up tightly after use. The paint stores (especially big box stores) are big on recommending tinted primer. They will tell you that you will use less coats of paint. That is not really true because the primer is a coat of paint. You still haven’t neutralized the old colour and you can’t use your left over primer for anything else! There is one time that it is helpful to use a slightly tinted primer. An extremely pale grey that looks off-white neutralizes the old colour very well. This helps prevent very dark or strong colours like red from bleeding through and changing the colour of your new paint

Buy the best paint that you can afford. Paint comes in a wide spectrum of price points and with paint it is true that you get what you pay for. My personal favourite is Benjamin Moore. For me it goes on the easiest, it’s the least messy, covers amazingly well, washes well and stays looking good year after year.

I also find that their ‘Pearl’ finish is the most versatile. It is a little glossier than Satin and far less glossy than Semi-gloss. It’s sheen is easy to clean but not shiny and looks good in any room.

Read Full Post »


Summary of Choosing Paint Colour


Choosing paint colour is not an easy process. It must be done step by step. This is a thumbnail sketch of the process. For a complete explanation read the entire series of articles.


q            The last step in decorating the room is picking the paint colour.

q            Choose your main fabrics, upholstery, draperies etc first.

q            Keep an open mind about the colour that you think you want.

q            Have a general idea about what kind of colour scheme you think you want.

q            A complementary colour scheme gives you the most flexibility

q            Don’t match, enhance.

q            Take a fabric sample to the paint store with you,

q            Always take your fabric and paint chips to the store window/doorway and look at them in natural light to see the colours accurately.

q            Take your time.

q            Contemporary or traditional rooms with lots of wood – light, soft, muted colours

q            Modern, minimalist rooms with metal & glass – bolder colours

q            Choose lots of paint chips that are in two or three different colours

q            Get paint chips from two or three different stores.

q            At home spread out the paint chips on the fabric in the room being decorated.

q            Narrow these down to around 10

q            Cut the chips into single colours and stick each chip in the centre of a piece of white paper.

q            Put these up on the wall around the room and live with them for a few days.

q            Narrow them down to 2 or 3

q            Go Lighter – Paint always looks quite a bit stronger, darker on the walls than on the chip so it is best to get a lighter version of the chip that you decide upon.

q            Buy testers or a 1 L can of your last two choices and paint a large square of each of them on the wall. This is the only way you will know for sure what the paint is going to look like.

q            Finally, do not forget to prime the walls with WHITE primer. You need to neutralize the old colour or it will affect the colour of the new one. Yellow over blue will have a slightly green tinge that you may not like. Multiple coats do not seem to get rid of this problem.


Three Mistakes to Avoid


The biggest mistake you can make is having the colour too strong. Save yourself this problem GO LIGHTER. The second one is picking the wrong hue, picking a bluish green when you need a yellowish green. Check your paint colour carefully in NATURAL LIGHT by a window to avoid this. The third mistake is being attracted to saturated colours instead of muted colours. Bright yellow is much harder to live with than a soft, slightly brownish one even though the bright one looks perfect on the paint chip.

Read Full Post »

scan0069The final step:

When you get home, lay your chips on top of the duvet cover or sofa etc. in a well-lit room. Look at them in daylight and artificial light. It is amazing how much the colour appears to change in different lights. Do this for a day or two and start discarding. Keep the only colours that enhance the colours in your room. If you are not sure whether to keep it or discard it then discard it, you obviously have better choices remaining. When you have it narrowed down to at least half of your original choices, go to the next step.


Your chips could be single colour chips or graduated colour chips. Cut the graduated chips into single colours. Choose a colour that you like on a graduated chip to put on the wall to start with. Keep the others for making the final choice. Mount each chip on a separate piece of 8-1/2×11 piece of white paper to neutralize the existing paint colour. Tape the papers to the wall randomly around the room with low tac painter’s tape.

Live with them in all lights for a few days to a week, removing even more of the ones that don’t work. Narrow it down to two or three chips. Take as long as you need for this step.


For your final decision it is best actually put a 12”-18” square of colour on the wall.

q  If the paint company sells extra large chips as Benjamin Moore does for its Designer Classics Collection (they are 18”square) buy a couple of your final choices and put them up on the wall.

q  The most foolproof way is to purchase a tester sold by some big box stores for as little as $4.00 or a small can (1 litre) and paint a square on the wall at least 1 ft (30cm) square. This way you will know for sure if its perfect or if you need to get a lighter tint of the paint colour or if you need to go back to the drawing board. This step costs a little extra money but is well worth it to get the colour right.

q  Take down a picture or mirror and paint the wall behind it with your trial colours. You can then re-hang the picture to cover your experiments until you are ready to paint

Next: Things to take into consideration

Read Full Post »

At the Paint store:   

When you start out on your colour journey, keep an open mind. You want to choose a paint colour that enhances your decor rather than one that just blends in with it. If the bedding for instance, is predominantly purplish blue, don’t decide that the bedroom has to be blue and then collect a million blue paint chips and try to match the bedding exactly. This approach is almost always a disappointment. The perfectly matching paint chip colour is usually far too strong on four walls. If you really want to match exactly, match the colour and then go to a much lighter version of that colour. If the colour that you have chosen is not on a graduated paint chip (a chip with tints & shades of a single colour), ask the paint store personnel to help you They can usually help you get a lighter version of the colour you have chosen.

Remember that you want to enhance all the elements of your new room. This includes the flooring, trim if it is stained and wooden furniture.

To find a colour that enhances your new decor, take a fabric sample such as a pillow sham, a cushion or a fabric swatch to the paint stores and allow yourself lots of time. Try the paint samples on the fabric. You can try and discard many colours this way. Pick out a number of the best ones making sure that you have a variety of colours.

q  Always assess the actual colour of the paint chips by laying them on top of the fabric sample in natural light by the store window. The store lighting, even the light box on the paint chip display can change the colour of the paint chip quite dramatically.

Go to more than one store and collect chips from at least three different brands of paint. It is amazing how different the paint colours choices can be from brand to brand.

q   Let’s say that you have purchased a duvet that has tints & shades of blue-violet. Instead of just hunting for the perfect blue-violet paint chip, choose a variety of different colours, such as creamy yellows and golden tans,even a soft warm brown as well as the blue-violet, to try out at home. While you are in the store, just for fun, try out unexpected colours. You never know what will work the best. For instance, you may have decided that periwinkle blue paint will go perfectly with the duvet but actually butterscotch turns out to be the colour that enhances the colours in the duvet cover and pulls together fabric, the different wood tones in the furniture, the new headboard and the carpet. Your plan for a monocromatic colour scheme just got turned into a complementary one.


So don’t limit yourself with preconceptions.

You should end up with a lot of variations of at least 3 colours.

Take your choices home.

Try them out in the room, on the fabric, with the furniture and live with them.

This will be discussed in the next article ‘The final step’

Read Full Post »

scan00301Muted colours work the best

When you see a collection called ‘Designer Colours’ they are almost all muted colours. Muted colours are not necessarily as attractive on a paint chip as they are on your walls. You tend to pass them by when you are looking at paint colours and go to the brighter, bolder, more pure colours.

This is a big mistake. Muted colours are colours with other colours in them (for instance olive green is green with red in it). Muted colours work best with traditional or contemporary rooms that have a variety of colours in them. Most of the time you want a muted colour!

Pure, saturated or bold colour works better in modern, clean-lined, minimally decorated rooms.

q If you want your baby or small child to sleep better, stay away from bright, pure crayon colours. These colours are very stimulating and not conducive to sleep. Evidently babies find any yellow stimulating and therefore it is suggested that you avoid yellow paint for a newborn’s nursery.

People tend to be attracted to the heavier, bolder or livelier colours when they are looking at paint chips. These colours usually end up being too strong and overwhelm the room once they are up on the walls. Even if you choose a lighter tint of the colour it is still too pure to be used in most rooms.

Designers use soft colours, muted colours and coloured neutrals to provide a background to showcase the room. Even when using dark colours, the colour itself will be muted. Strongly coloured paint can end up saying, “See my Paint” not  “What a beautiful room”. Instead of making the room feel finished, the room feels uncomfortable and you never really figure out why.

Strong, pure or bold colours work well when used as an accent, or a feature wall to create a focal point where none exists, especially in minimalist, modern style rooms. Use strong colours when you want the paint job to be the main feature in the room.

Most of the time paint colours should feel light, not heavy. Think of paint colour in the terms of fabric. A colour looks much ‘thicker’ when it is used on velvet or corduroy than it does on a semi-sheer drapery fabric. Most colours that you pick from a chip should resemble the colour as it would appear on the semi-sheer fabric, not the velvet.

q Paint colours that do not look strong on the chip often do look too strong on the wall. If possible, test your final choice on the walls. You can by testers at some paint stores or big box stores for as little as $4.00

Read Full Post »

xmas-07-florida-08-blue-br-tg-hall-stairs-decor-0292Setting your basic colour scheme:



The last step in decorating a room is choosing the paint colour.

You have to have a starting point so choose or establish your main fabrics first. This could be your bedding, the upholstery on your furniture, your draperies or even a large area rug. It doesn’t matter if they are plain or have a pattern or design. These are major items and will not be replaced quickly. 

  •  You want to build a colour scheme around your central item whether it is something you already have or something you have decided to purchase.  
  •  Then build upon this by adding the smaller pieces and accessories.
  •  Decide upon the colour scheme that you want to establish. Is it to be monochromatic which are tints and shades of one colour? Are you   going to develop an analogous scheme, which are two or three colours beside each other on the colour wheel? Do you prefer the variety in a complementary colour scheme?
Once you have chosen the main pieces to go in the room and have decided what type of colour scheme you want to create, THEN start on paint colours


In the room pictured, the starting point was the floral fabric for the curtains. It had many shades of blue as well as greens, golden yellows and ivory. Blue-violet is one of the many blues. That was chosen for the duvet cover set. A complementary colour scheme was established when it was decided to pick out the golden-yellow colours in the floral for the walls and some accents. The darkest golden-yellow that was chosen appears in  the drapery accent panel and the cushions. A light gold-yellow tint was chosen for the paint colour. The lightest version of the yellow was the ivory in two of the shams and the throw. A hint of tension was added with the green cushion. The trim is an off white with the merest hint of yellow in it.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »