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Reclaim Your Home: Paint Perspectives

Paint samples help give an idea of what a color might look in your space.

Photo source: Burritos and Bubbly


When it comes to giving fresh life to a room or space, one of my first recommendations is to change up the paint. I can't tell you how many times a few coats of paint have saved my clients from the expense and hassle of a full-blown remodel. The transformation can be amazing!

That said, painting can also seem daunting when you're just getting started. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Get appropriate perspective.

Tape paint samples on the wall so you can evaluate colors in context. The quality of color changes depending on what plane it's on (vertical vs. horizontal, not 747), so don't let how it looks laying on a table seal the deal. Make sure you test it against a white background (on a white wall or painted piece of cardboard) so the existing wall color doesn't influence the sample, and your opinion of it.


Super size your chips.

Just like with your favorite Super Bowl snack, bigger is better when it comes to paint chips. Larger chips give you a more accurate sense of how the color will work in your room. Some stores and paint brands charge for the larger chips. Just ask at the counter or make your own.


Photo Source: The Turquoise Home

Give it some time.

Live with paint samples for at least a week before making the big decision. Also look at color samples throughout the day to gauge how different patterns of light (natural and artificial) affect the color. This also lets you see how you react to the color as your own mood and energy levels shift.


Photo Source: Blissous

Take it on a tour.

Hold a color swatch in your hand and walk slowly around the room. Lighting hits each wall differently, so observe how the color changes as you move from wall to wall. Is it elegant near the armoire but a real downer with the duvet? Be sure to check out corners and hallways, too.


Photo Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Trust your gut.

Take a quick look at the color swatch. What's your first thought, feeling or reaction? Feeling romantic? Do fresh tulips come to mind? Is a nap suddenly appealing? There is no right answer here, other than to avoid colors that provoke negative feelings. Claustrophobia? Rage? No thank you.


Photo Source: Shearer Painting

Mix it up.

As much as it may rub against your sensible upbringing, you can do this. You can paint one wall—or even the ceiling—a different color than the rest. Intense colors add energy to a room so consider something bold yet still tasteful. Accent walls can also be a variation on the color of the rest of the room; just go a few shades darker or lighter to get the right balance.


Photo source: Sara Eizen

Think outside the swatch.

All greens are not created equal. Nor are all yellows, blues, or reds. Look at several variations of the same color on the wall all at once, and then again one at a time. While they might look too similar at first, just a wee extra tint of this or that shade in the mix can make all the difference. Sometimes process of elimination is the only way to find "the one."


Photo Source: Apartment Therapy

Take in the big picture.

Set out swatches of all your color finalists. Now consider the rest of your home. An effective color palette will allow an easy and pleasant transition as you move from room to room. How do the colors work when looking from one room into another?


Photo source: House & Garden

Go easy on the environment.

Household paint contains lead and other toxins that have negative effects on human health and the environment. Lucky for all of us, many large paint brands now offer non-toxic options. You'll pay a bit more at the register, but you just might find that the benefits are worth a few extra bucks.


Finish it off.

You've (finally) chosen the color and you're ready to get painting. Not so fast. You still have to choose the finish. Here are some basic guidelines, but beware that every paint brand may have slightly different options.

On ceilings, use flat to hide imperfections in the drywall. On walls other than bathroom and kitchen, choose eggshell for a little luster. In kitchens and bathrooms, stick with semi-gloss or something similar with added mildew protection. In high-traffic or heavy-use areas such as trim, hallways, and kids' rooms, use semi-gloss for ease of cleaning.


Photo source: Valspar Paint

And of course, if all of this still seems a bit too daunting a task, you know I'm always more than happy to help!

If you are ready for some real change and think a major makeover is the only way to get there, take a breath and consider your paint options. You may be surprised to get the results you want for a fraction of the cost.




Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life,and much more.



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