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At Home, Fall/Winter 2014

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Take Out The Guess Work

Let’s take the guess work out and give you the professional run-through on how to pick the perfect palate for your home. Use the design tips I’ve laid out for you and find yourself back being that confidently artistic you!

Where to begin:

The most incredible new design tool that many of you already know about is the internet site called HOUZZ. This site lets you type in a search for just about anything you would find in, outside of, or around a home – even paint colors! Try basic searches to begin with like “Navy Walls.” This will give you visual ideas of paint colors and how their look in a room. Often you can search an exact color by name and it will show you rooms completed with the color.

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Next, make a trip to your paint store. If you are painting more than one room or a whole home, ask for a paint deck and they should be more than happy to give you one to work with or keep. Take the deck back with you to the space you are working on if that is possible and if not; find a place where you can combine your flooring for the areas and as much natural light as possible. These two factors are big players in the selection process. Natural light will help you see the colors in their truest form and the flooring sample or area, be it carpet, tile, or wood, will assist you in selecting colors that work with your floor which is your uniting factor between rooms.

Painting Trim Work:

If you are thinking about painting the trim in the room, (the crown molding, base board and door and window casing) then this is where you start. You can always match your existing trim if you are renovating a space by taking a small piece of the baseboard to your local paint store. There they will do a color match and also be able to tell you if you should latex, which is water-based, or an oil-based paint. As you will see, there are numerous hues of white and every other color too. For your window casings, door casings, and crown molding, pick a white or a light neutral color that has a tint that looks appealing with your floor and flows with your baseboard color. If you want to stay safe, keep your doors and baseboards that same white. If you want to get a little adventurous with things, try painting just your doors and baseboards a different color altogether. This could be a color that repeats later on in your cabinetry. I’ve shared a few of our favorite colors for ideas to get you started! For your trim finish gloss level, select satin, semi-gloss or high gloss. High gloss gives a very high end look but you must be sure the trim work is rather pristine in order to pull this off and have it look good. Semi-gloss is the most common and for good reason. Satin would be used if you are still hoping to have washability but need to hide blemishes in the previous paint or caulk job.

Painting the Walls:

When selecting a color for your walls, remember that the color you see on the little chip will be amplified in intensity on the larger scale palate of your walls. That means that colors that have a grey undertone to them will be a good choice for safe bets. Dark colors add drama and look amazing when paired with white trim. For a truly bold look which is a technique that has been used throughout history, consider painting the walls and the trim the same color but be sure to still keep your finish gloss levels intact. This technique will offer a more serine setting because the color will just flow throughout the room and only vary in sheen. Walls like trim hide imperfections when a flat finish is applied and the more gloss added, the more any little flaws will show. Lastly, remember when picking your paint color to factor in that the glossier you take the finish, the more light will reflect off the color, hence making it appear lighter than what is on the sample. Because paint increases in cost with sheen, you may want to limit the extra expense for hallways, bathrooms and the kitchen. Now that you have your paint colors selected from the paint store, ask the friendly guys behind the counter to sell you a pint-sized sample of the color that you are wanting.

Painting the Ceiling:

This is an easy one. Most ceilings are white and we have offered up some of our favorite whites and also some of our favorite colors for ceilings. If you stick with these simple options you won’t go wrong, no matter what the style of your home. Ninety percent of ceilings are done with flat paint but again, if you want to kick it up a notch and you have confidence in the relative smoothness and clean lines of your ceiling, i.e. a quality plaster or sheet rock job, then in dressier rooms such as master bathroom or bedroom, or a dressing parlor will sparkle with a gloss ceiling! Add a color and your will really heighten the drama.

Painting the Built-ins and Cabinetry:

The cabinetry and built-in cabinets are a lot like trim. Given the option to custom paint these; a safe bet is to match your trim color on your doors and window casings. This gives a custom look. Cabinetry looks amazing stained and should not be discounted but since this article is on paint, we will focus on this. Another interesting and fun way to paint built-ins or cabinetry is to do them the same color as the wall. Obviously this works best in the neutral tones but it can also be fun in say, a girl’s bedroom where the palate is light and soft. For the paint product itself, we prefer working with water-based enamel because it gives a durable finish that is still environmentally friendly.

The lingo:

Hue is essentially color itself. Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Tint is simply any color with white added or you could say a white with color added. Shade is simply any color with black added. Tone is a color with grey added. These tend to be the most appealing colors to our eyes and our walls. Finish as it applies to paint, refers to the paint’s gloss level, which corresponds to the different amounts of light reflection; the glossier a paint is the more light it will reflect. Common names for levels of gloss, from the most dull to the shiniest, are: flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high gloss. The gloss level of paint can also affect its apparent color making shinier colors appear lighter and duller colors appear darker.

Paint Myths:

Dark Colors Make Rooms Look Smaller. This is not always the case. If you have a lot of light in the room and light furniture, dark walls only add drama and they really pack a punch when you are trying to make a statement.

White is Boring and Only Best in Art Galleries.

Not true! White on walls says ‘fresh!’ White always lends an upscale look. Try really spicing things up by painting your trim dark and leaving your walls white.

Art Looks Best on White.

Actually, art galleries are beginning to trend towards painting their walls in color because art pops especially on dark colors like umbers, navies and reds.

Accent Walls are Tacky.

Not when done well. This is a great way to throw in a big splash of color or a darker shade without fully committing. Pick a wall with few windows and doors and the one you want to focus attention towards such as a wall with a bed headboard, built-in cabinetry, a mantle, or artwork.

Flat Walls Need Constant Touch Up.

This is not true if you use a washable flat that is now on the market called “matte,” which is sold as a ‘washable flat.’ This is a great solution for uneven or old plaster walls when you want to hide blemishes. The shinier the wall the more blemishes you will see in it.

Ceilings are Best Left White:

When you have an opportunity to paint a ceiling, it can add a lot of drama to a room. Try a sky blue in a sunny room or if you are in a vaulted space without crown molding, continue the wall color and wrap the entire room. Recessed or tray ceilings look great in a dark color such as a bronze or a charcoal.

Truths to Know:

Dark Colors Do Require More Coats:

The rule of thumb here is that dark colors need a minimum two coats plus a grey basecoat or three coats of color. Other colors look best if treated the same way but for darker shades it is a must. When you try to skimp on this you will end up with a different color on the wall than you intended. Of course this means that the painters charge you more if you are not doing it yourself. This goes for walls, trim, and anything applied with a roller or a brush but don’t let this deter you from the dark colors which offer contrast and a ton of interest!

Spraying Will Give You the Most Flawless Application:

Cabinetry, built-ins and your interior doors should be sprayed. If given the choice between a painter or cabinet maker that will hand apply the paint with a brush, versus spraying the product with a motorized paint spraying machine, choose the sprayer. This will win the looks contest over brushing and rolling any day.

Builders Typically Choose Flat Paint:

This is because it can be easily touched up, although not wiped down. It also requires the sheet rock work to be top quality if you are hoping for anything other than perfect. Lastly, and most importantly, it is relatively difficult to touch up a wall in eggshell or satin without painting the entire wall and that is because it will show points where the painting stops and starts.

Primers Will Insure Your Best Color:

Although it seems like a hassle, painting itself is already a hassle, and it is expensive, so… why not do it right?! If you are going through the trouble to paint then put in the little extra it takes to do it the right way. A primer will ensure that your paint says on the wall and does not chip, flake, or peel (yes, that can happen!) It will also guarantee that your color comes out looking like you intended it. Low VOC (volatile organic compound) Paint is Smart. Especially when painting in your existing home or office; low VOC paint, which has little to no harmful odor/chemical release is an excellent way to protect your health and the health of those in the space. The paint fumes can really make you feel sick and they are also bad for the environment so choosing a low VOC paint prevents this. Most low VOC paints do cost a touch more and only come in light and medium base colors so you can go really dark with them. It is the dark base paint that contains the most chemicals. Most Paint Colors Can Be Mixed by Your Paint Store of Choice. Regardless of the vendor you pick your color from; most paint stores can make any color from any other supplier. For example, if you love a Farrow and Ball or Benjamin Moore color, it can be made by a formula in the computer system from Sherwin Williams or Glidden. Just have them mix a sample and test it on the actual paint chip for color accuracy


We know that designing a home or office, whether remodeling or building from the ground up, can be a daunting task if you do not have the right team in place. We are excited to learn more about you and your story to help realize your design dreams.

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