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To Paint, or Not to Paint?


By Marlene Pratt
Created: July 3, 2011 Last Updated: July 3, 2011
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INTERIOR PAINT: Taking the fear out choosing the right color. (iStockimage.com/wragg)

INTERIOR PAINT: Taking the fear out choosing the right color. (iStockimage.com/wragg)

Are you indecisive when it comes to tackling a big painting project? Don’t worry: You are not alone.

Hundreds of people stare at their walls with a blank face and wonder what they should do next. Should they paint with the standard white (that turns dingy within months) or should they try putting a color on their walls?

In my years of experience, I have discovered that deciding in favor of color is not what people fear the most. Rather, most angst comes from not wanting to pick the wrong shade of a color and then being forced to do the project a second time.

Let me hold your hand while I help you through this process.

The most difficult part of painting for anyone is walking into a store with a particular color in mind, only to find out there are almost 200 shades of that color.

Don’t let this be a deterrent. Take a few paint chips home with you—these are free pieces of paper that display the name of a paint color, as well as a swatch of the color.

Take 6 to 8 sample shades of each paint color and tape them together to create a more suitable sample. Then find the largest piece of furniture in your space and tape the color sample to the wall behind that piece. Walk by it for a day or so, making sure to view it at three different times of the day—in the morning, in natural sunlight, and in the evening with room lighting.

If you are content with all three stages, then guess what? You have found your color. But if by bedtime you are still walking back and forth, just simply start the process again with three different shades of the color.

The process does not end with selecting the color. Picking the correct sheen is just as important.

Paint comes in a variety of finish gloss levels which correspond to different levels of reflection. The most common names given are: Flat, Matte, Eggshell, Satin, Silk, Semi-gloss, High gloss. There is no industry standard for paint sheens, so one company’s Eggshell can be another company’s Satin, Matte, or Low Gloss.

While it is common to use a higher level of gloss in both the bathroom and the kitchen, please, I beg you—do not use high gloss to paint the ceilings or the walls of your bedroom.

I always have the urge to put on sunglasses when I walk into these glossy rooms, because it can be quite blinding with light reflecting from all directions. When I ask people why they paint everything gloss, the most common answer I get is, “because it is easier to clean.”

Logically, I can understand that, but I always add “Why the ceiling?”—no one walks on it.

Finishes have come a long way. The surface of your walls no longer needs to be reflective to be cleanable. Benjamin Moore has an excellent selection of matte colors that are extremely washable, releasing surface dirt easily and keeping its fresh look.

Simply put, today’s paint is very people-friendly. The smells of the past are gone, as well as the unwanted reflection from every direction. The categories are the same for both interior and exterior applications.

For those still afraid of taking the color step on your own, try paying Pottery Barn or IKEA a visit—both have partnered up with Benjamin Moore. You can walk into their stores and envision yourself not only on their furniture, but surrounded by their beautiful colors as well. It is amazing how easy it is to convince people about adding color to walls once I walk them through these stores.

Do not fear! Just make sure to take pen and paper with you, for I am certain you will find a color you can no longer live without. Each of the designed rooms has a label somewhere on the wall letting everyone know the name, sheen, and number of that stunning color.

Trust me—once you add that fresh coat of paint to your walls, you will feel refreshed.

Marlene Pratt is an interior designer, on-air television talent, and co-founder of the blog Casa Latina (www.CasaLatina.com)

 




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