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Tips for success in choosing paint colors.

Who can resist the visual feast of the spring landscape? It's an explosion of pastels. The magnolia tree outside my window resembles a three story high cotton candy.

These are the colors of youth, innocence, and new beginnings. The Fashion Interiors scene overflows with shades borrowed from Mother Nature's spring palette; paint stores are brimming with the alchemy of "nature-turned-paint color": the chartreuse haze of newly awakening trees, the peach-y blush of spring blossoms, the lemony froth of forsythia and daffodils. Gentle violets, mauves and periwinkles fill the shelves and "speak" to us of hydrangeas and bearded irises.

A fresh coat of a well chosen paint color is one of the best and most economical lifts for any room in your home.

Whether you decide to paint your livingroom, foyer bedroom or kitchen this spring, bear in mind the following tips, which will help you in achieving successful results:

  • If painting a room in which the décor is already established, choose colors which will enliven and enhance what is already there. For an upbeat room-lift, consider new throw pillows as well, perhaps a new print or poster for the wall, and make a commitment to keep a big bunch of fresh flowers in the room at all times.
  • Be sure your walls are professionally prepared to receive paint. There is nothing more disappointing than a plaster crack in a freshly painted wall. On imperfect surfaces use only flat color. Any sheen at all will only emphasize flaws.
  • Choose a color that will complement your larger furnishings such as your carpet or area rug, your sofa and chairs. Don't be concerned with matching colors...think "mix", not "match".
  • Remember that the eye mixes color. When you look at a patterned or textured sofa, one color will predominate. Your paint color should enhance and form a beautiful backdrop for that predominating color.
  • Color cards are deceiving. When looking at one you are viewing a very small patch of color, shown against stark white, and you are usually seeing it under fluorescent lighting - all distorting factors. These colors are guaranteed to look different on the walls of your room, where the light exposure and existing fabric colors are unique. As a matter of fact, a color won't look the same in any two rooms! It is always a shock to bring home a can of unmistakably beige paint, and end up with pink walls. So test, test, TEST!
  • Test at least 3 possible color choices, with the knowledge that the "right" shade may or may not be among them. Be patient - it will be worth it. You can obtain small "test" cans at your paint store. You can also ask for a large color sample (called a "draw down"). However, in our experience nothing substitutes for actually seeing a patch painted directly on your wall.
  • Test each color by painting big 4'X 4' squares. Try the same color on perpendicular walls to observe how the light hits it. Look at your test patches throughout the day: morning, midday, and evening. You will be amazed by how much they seem to change. At this point you will have a favorite. If not, start the process again. Back to the paint store. The next three will probably yield your successful color.
  • Trims and moldings are usually semi-gloss, satin or eggshell finish, and can be painted in the same shade or in a contrasting color. When in doubt, use a rich, creamy, luxurious white, such as Benjamin Moore's "Linen" White, a classic among designers and housepainters.

By taking these seemingly painstaking steps and choosing your wall color methodically, you will avoid many aggravating and costly disasters.

HAVE FUN with the process and enjoy the nuances of color. Your reward will be a beautifully turned out room!

- Karen Saloomey

 

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