Best Paint Advice I Can Give

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paint-chips.jpgYou’re looking at my well-traveled paint palette. When we remodeled this house a decade ago, we had the daunting task of deciding colors for every room. Sounded fun… wasn’t. One step forward and three steps back until I landed on the right approach, thanks to a kind stranger.

When I went to Cox Paint in Santa Monica to look at paint colors, an angel (fellow customer) saw my head spinning and told me her process. Seriously, I’m no weenie but after months of construction, and now this decision-making, I was THIS CLOSE to bailing. She empowered me! Getting paint chips, I came to learn, was jumping in the MIDDLE of the job. I needed to back up:

  1. Put the paint chips back. Leave the store. Go home.
  2. Get a poster board.
  3. Draw the floor plan in the middle.
  4. Letter each room – A, B, C, etc.
  5. Stand in each (real) room and look around – what OTHER rooms do you see from there?
  6. Mark your poster in clusters — rooms you can see from each other.  i.e. from our dining room, you only see the entryway and living room (from A, you see G and F). From the living room, you see the entry, dining and family rooms. From the kitchen: dining, breakfast, family.
  7. Cut up trendy catalogs like Crate & Barrel (better than magazines, more photos) of rooms with wall colors you like, glue to the poster – maybe five or six per cluster. i.e. I narrowed down the house to four basic wall color clusters. Kitchen/breakfast/family/entryway (rooms B, C, D, E). Master bed/master bath (J, K). You get the picture.
  8. NOW… present to The Committee (aka Larry).  Allow The Committee to remove pictures, and narrow down colors to a couple per cluster.
  9. Bring poster to store for paint chips – pick several shades of each color. Back home, tape them to your walls – look at different times of the day. Allow The Committee to narrow his selection of two final color choices per cluster.
  10. Go back (again) and buy a pint of each color to paint a good sized swatch* on several walls at home. Finalize your selection.
  11. PHOTO above,: When you finally paint your rooms, dip a stick into each paint color, write on it the names of the rooms, drill a hole, put on a chain. Throw in your car trunk; carry with you everywhere for carpet and furniture for years to come.

*VERY important step. We thought we chose a cool dining room combo of barn red + pale butter. Once we painted the swatches, it screamed “ketchup + mustard.” Thus, Choice #2, below.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk August 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

Wow, Rita, you made my heart sing! So glad this can work for you.

2 Rita Vance August 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

This is ingenious! Thank you for sharing this tip. I document the paint colors in a notebook so I can leave them for the next owner but I love this handy – carry it with you – information. I still have 4 rooms to paint in this house and I am going to employ this system here and in my next (and hopefully) last home! I love your site, your stories, your recipes…now this great bit of info so aptly named “The Best Paint Advice I Can Give”. It is truly the best and easiest to follow method I have read. I am going to share it with my 3 sisters right away. Thank you for sharing with all of us. -Rita

3 denise vivaldo August 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

You are brillant -tip #11 – is now my goal …. as I am painting -anything I can get a brush to this month. I have been home for a reason.
The jello salad is a triumph. ox

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