I have a history of picking the wrong paint colors. There was the Craftsman White, which looked completely neutral on the chip but turned a pale yellow in our foyer. The Irish Spurge, which turned our upstairs hallway into a dark, depressing cave. And let’s not forget Compatible Cream, which was a decidedly incompatible yellow-gold in my living room.
One of my most memorable paint mistakes was choosing Green Apple for my mudroom. Just as I finished painting it and stood back to admire my work, my son came in and said, “Cool! It’s the same color as Shrek!” Believe it or not, “ogre” had not been the look I was going for. (It is now a mellow Tawny Green.)
Time after time, I have fallen in love with “the perfect color” on a paint chip, only to be stunned by the results on the wall. And even when I try those test quarts, I’ll like it enough on one wall to go back and buy a gallon, only to realize I really hate it when it’s everywhere.
As a result of all this trial and error, I have a “paint graveyard” in my basement where all of the unused gallons go. Neighbors will actually stop by to pick up paint for their weekend projects. I tell you all of this because I need Marni Jameson’s advice on how to pick wall colors more than anyone. If it stumps you, too, read on.
Paint colors that create a room like the one at the top of the post are: 1. Crushed Velvet by Benjamin Moore, 2. Cranberry by Pratt & Lambert, 3. Venus Envy by C2. (Photo credit Howard L. Puckett) There’s no way I’d be brave enough to try these when I can’t even get my neutrals right on the first, second, or third try. But if you have the nerve, go for it!
When picking paint, keep these tips in mind from Marni Jameson:
Color is fickle and changes depending on your light. A wall color that looks great in your friend’s house could flop in yours. Don’t go from just the paint chip, which is actually ink, not paint.
When you decide on a general color, say a robin’s egg blue, or a marigold, get several quarts to test. Some companies, including Ralph Lauren, sell little test bags of color, which are cheaper than quarts.
Test the paint in the room where it will go. Use two coats. Ideally, test the paint on 16″ x 16″ pieces of drywall that are the same texture as your walls. You can get these for just a few dollars at your local home improvement store (sometimes free). This is better than test patches on your walls because they can ghost through the final paint color and haunt you for years to go. Using panels lets you move the colors around so you can see them in different lights and on different walls. Panels also let you place carpet candidates near the panels to see how they go together.
Before deciding, observe the colors at different times of day.
This is part of a week-long series inspired by the book The House Always Wins. I’m giving a copy away on Saturday, March 22.
To enter the giveaway: Leave a comment on the original post between now and March 22 and you are automatically entered. Bonus: 1) tell us why you want to win this book or 2) tell us why you’re hooked on this website, and your name will be entered twice.
Check out the other posts in this week’s series based on The House Always Wins: