Spring is in the air! It's been a long winter and we welcome the warmth and are excited to see everything green and growing. Inspired by the fresh air, and eager to start the season, many of us are busy sprucing up our gardens and homes. While a good “spring clean” and perhaps even a yard sale and some de-cluttering is a great way to start, perhaps you’re ready to take one step further and really make some changes to make your home brighter and fresher. Coming from a decorating and renovation background, I love paint for this purpose. With a little care, paint can be a cost-effective and relatively quick way to totally revamp a room or entire home, inside and out.
While it’s always great to call in the professionals, sometimes it’s preferable to DIY if you have the time and skill.
Here’s some tips and tricks to help pick colours you’ll really love!
Test it out
From first had experience, I can tell you that soft, pastel, minty green, that looks almost white in the hardware store, is going to look some shade of electric neon lime when you throw it up on your wall. Test pots are worth the small fee! I like to buy a test pot and then paint a nice big scrap of primed drywall or other sealed, flat surface. Prop it up, or have someone hold the sample up on every wall you want to paint, a few different times a day as the light changes, and at night with the room lights on. (Or go ahead and slap that paint right on primed wall, you’re painting it over anyways right?). The type and amount of light your room gets will totally affect the way to colour looks. Remember also that the surrounding/underlying wall colour will affect how you see the test spot - especially if they are totally contrasting colours. This is really the only foolproof way to match the colour to your flooring and decor. And when in doubt? Choose a shade or 2 lighter. I promise the colour always looks deeper than you expect when it’s on the wall, and its easier to tint paint darker, than it is to make it lighter. Pro tip : use professional paint! Benjamin Moore creates paints that are durable, the colours are rich, beautiful and TRUE, and hold up well to wear. They match beautifully when you go to do touch-ups, sometimes even over a year later!
Not all light is equal!
Colours appear totally different depending on the type of light in the space. Look at the colour on every wall at different times of the day that you use the room.
- Fluorescent light is very cool. It enhances green and blue shades while counteracting yellows, reds and oranges. Choose CFL bulbs (full spectrum/daylight bulbs) for your home: they are the kindest on colours.
- basic Incandescent light bulbs create a warm yellow tone which brings out orange, red and yellow.
- Halogen and L.E.D. are closest to daylight and will show colours most accurately.
Angles are important!
Remember : Colours appear dramatically different depending on how the light hits them. Your wall colour would look deeper and darker on the ceiling, and lighter and brighter on the floor.To see it like it will really be, view wall colours vertically, ceiling colours overhead, and floors downward.
Keep a flow and theme
Look at your floors, trim, larger pieces of furniture, any stone or tile near the fireplace. The idea is to create harmony, and tie together all those elements. Keep in mind the colours in adjacent rooms. It’s totally fun to have different coloured rooms, especially for kids, but try to use colour “stories” or palettes that relate or compliment eachother. Most paint retailers have selections of colours that “work” together - just chat with an associate or check out their promotional materials. Keep it simple. There are thousands of designer shades of paint to choose from. Check out a magazine for inspiration, or try to narrow your selection down to just a few choices.
How to Go Bold
Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with fuschia or a deep burgandy, but don’t want to paint the whole living room. Maybe your spouse hates orange, but you really love the warmth it seems to suggest. A denim wall might frame a scenic window, but too much denim might be too dark. Powerful colours are a big commitment! They are difficult to paint over, and may not be to everyones liking. Sometimes an accent wall is all you need to make a statement and add cheer, without letting the colour take control of the room. Pick one wall where the colour will really create impact, like a foyer, behind a bed, or the wall behind the tv / entertainment centre or fireplace. Then chose decor that will stand out against this colour.
Take a swatch to the store to match. We don’t accurately remember colour. It helps to take along some item to jog your memory, or help compare and get ideas. I like to grab a couch cushion or some other easy to tote item to the store. Also, a good paint retailer can colour match, or help you find the closest matching colour.
Compare your colours
Some colours are obvious : it’s as orange as the fruit, or blue as the sky. Some are harder - what may look “off white” in the store may actually have an undertone of some hue you may not have noticed right away. I have seen a “taupe” paint chip look almost lavender when on the wall! Compare, compare compare. Hold the indistinguishable “off white” chip up against a true white page, and you’ll probably notice the undertone. Try to determine if the colour is “warm” (orange, red, yellow undertones) or “cool” (blue green and violet undertones). This will have a big impact on the final “feel” of the room: cool tones are crisp, clean and provide a cooler breezy feeling, while “warm” tones are cozier, add a softer glow/ambience to the room and everything in it, and overall lend to a warmer vibe.
A final tip : ask a friend! Not all people see colour the same. A friend or professional (such as a decorator or paint shop pro) can give excellent advice!