Paint 101 - A Guide to Selecting, Budgeting & Organizing your Home’s Paint Palette

Paint is one of the most affordable yet dramatic changes you can make for your home, yet many people feel overwhelmed at the options and fear making mistakes. Today I hope to take some of the anxiety about painting out of the equation, with the first installment of our new 101 Series. I'll provide practical advice for selecting, budgeting, and organizing your selections. Let's dive in! 

Note: All Photos Link directly to original sources


#1 Pay attention to what colors you're drawn to

The first step in the painting process is to figure out what you like. Begin by collecting images of rooms with colors that speak to you. Clip them from magazines, stalk your favorite Pinterest boards or Houzz  for endless inspiration. After you've collected a good amount, pay attention to patterns. Do you find that you're drawn to the same colors over and over again? Maybe you have a blue theme you didn't know you had. Perhaps you consider yourself conservative, yet you are actually drawn to bright and bold colors? Take a moment to compare what you THINK you like, and what you ACTUALLY like.

#2 Pay attention to the light

Your home and its natural light will be a big indicator of what colors you should be working with.  Darker colors absorb light, while lighter colors reflect light. The key is to not let the color of the room steal all of your natural light. Lots of natural light? Go big with bright colors full of personality. Low on natural light? That’s where lighter shades create a big impact. 

#3 Don't Buy the Cheapest Paint

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Paint is no exception!  Cheap paint may save you some bucks immediately, but beware! They're inexpensive for a reason. They typically don't provide good coverage, meaning more coats and more labor costs.  Durability is a huge factor, too!  I'm sure none of your kids would color on your walls, but IF THEY DID would you trust your paint to still be there after scrubbing it down? 

#4 Choose a Low or Non-toxic Paint

Paint companies are becoming more and more environmentally sensitive, and taking steps to reduce hazardous chemicals known as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s. That’s the stinky stuff in paint that is super unhealthy to breathe. One of our favorites is Sherwin Williams Duration line for its incredible durability paired with its super-low VOC content. It also comes in an eggshell sheen which can be hard to find in a scrubbable paint (See #8). For a zero VOC option, try their Harmony Paint. It doesn't have the same scrubbability, so would be better suited for rooms like the bedroom.

#5 Keep your Budget on Track

Are you painting one room or the whole house? The more colors you choose, the more your labor costs will be. This is always a good reminder to keep your labor costs in check.  There are other benefits to using fewer colors, too. If every room in the house has a wildly different color, it can start to feel like candy land. In an open-concept layout, try using one color throughout, then picking different colors for the bedrooms. Another option is to use the same color in a slightly lighter or darker shade in a visible adjoining room (i.e. living/dining room).  In the long run, a beautiful paint will speak for itself, and the accent colors you choose to use will reinforce your great style. 

#6 Think Beyond Solid Painted Walls

Instead of the typical "feature wall" try painting patterns or paint the ceilings or floors instead. Our own Yay! Paint Pinterest Board  is a great place to start researching ideas. Stencils are back! Unlike the stencils that your Aunt Sally had in her kitchen, today you can find modern and playful patterns in thousands of designs. Our office is about to get a lovely dalmatian stencil treatment, and we can't wait to show you how it turns out!

#7 Pick the Right Sheen for the Job

Finally…the finishes! The basic finishes come in Flat, Satin/Eggshell, Semi-Gloss and Gloss. A basic rule of thumb when selecting the finish is to remember that the higher the gloss, the more durable it is. However, more surface imperfections will show. Surfaces that will be getting a lot of use such as handrails, stairs, and trim work would benefit from a high gloss finish. Semi-gloss is preferred for walls in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. It provides the durability required but will hide some of the imperfections of the wall. A satin or eggshell finish is your best bet for bedrooms, living rooms, and offices. Flat finishes are generally used for ceilings.

# 8 Stay Organized

Keep a record of what color you used where in case you ever need to touch up. I also recommend keeping a small airtight tupperware container for quick touchups. 

#9 Paint Swatches the RIGHT way! 

Without totally geeking out on color theory, the main thing you need to know when testing paint swatches is this: Don't EVER paint the swatches on your existing color.  Here is why...The same color can look completely different when held up to two other colors. It's called Albers Color Relativity. In this example, you can see how the same colors "react" with their adjacent colors. Here is what to do instead. Buy sample pots of colors and paint test swatches on a large sheet of foam core. Then, watch the colors over a 24 hour period (or longer). This is because the colors will morph with the light. You want to see how it looks both day and night. This is why I get really excited about color. It's so dynamic and can also change with the seasons too! But don't let that scare you from just picking a color and going with it! (See #10!) 

#10 Remember...It's Just Paint! 

Paint is one of the quickest and cheapest projects and also good for DIY beginners. With minimal time and frustration, if you don't love it, you can always repaint! There's nothing that says you have to keep a paint color for 10 years.  

So what did you think?  Feeling inspired? Have questions? Post your question on our Facebook and we'll be sure to answer!  

Still want help picking the right colors for your home? Our A la Carte Services are designed to do just that! Check it out and give us a buzz to book your service. 

Until next time....

Bryan