Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Pick a Paint Color

When we bought our home 5 years ago, we quickly figured out that every surface needs to be repainted.  Every wall, cabinet, door frame, window frame, and trim.  Everything.

For the first two months, we were lean, mean painting machines.  We bought three 5 gallon buckets and got to work.  

Our two colors were: 1.Northstar Blue by Sherwin Williams for our main rooms and 2. Pure White by Sherwin Williams-one glossy for the trim and doors, one matte for the ceilings. (Tip:when you go toe SW or Benjamin Moore, ask for the decorator's discount.  Tell them that you want to open an account because you plan to buy all your paint from them.  This gives you a HUGE discount.  They might give you a hard time, but don't fret.  It's totally legal.)

We fell in love with these colors.  The whites quickly became my go-to color for any painted furniture.   The chairs.  Some random frames.  My great stencil project of 2011 (more on that later).  It's great.  

The blue is a perfect blue.  Not too gray-too blue.  We've even loaned out the Big Bucket to friends for their rooms or to test try.  It's been a big hit.

Only with the help of my super cool aunt, was I able to pick out those colors from a huge fan wheel of colors.  I'm not good at that.  I hate it.  All the colors that I seem to pick look too harsh and bright when I get them home and test them out.  After picking those two colors, I gave up and started picking paint my way.

Let's call my way the Copy Cat Way.  It looks a little something like this: walk into someone's house, love their color, and get that exact thing for my house.  That's how I roll.  

If I could give any advice on picking colors, then it would be this:

Skip the intimidating book of color swatches.  
Find someone else's color and go with that.

True stories:
The color in my master bedroom=the color of my neighbor's kitchen.
My kitchen=the color of my friend's guest bedroom.
My mom found the colors for her house in a local shop.
My dad painted the exterior of one of his past houses when he passed a house he liked and knocked on their door to get the color.
Our master bedroom in our last house=color of a room in a little boutique in town.

It's not rocket science or brain surgery.  Being a Copy Cat is so much better than going to the store, choosing the feel of your entire room based on a square inch of sample.  Good luck.


  1. You're right, it's not a science, but it's a fabulous idea! I don't have many friends with colors I envy, so I end up finding them online a lot. But it really is helpful!

  2. I've been pouring over BHG's latest issue - lots of colors. Just one more decision to make.

  3. Wish you had written this a week ago before I bought 6 gallons of paint. I still need to buy a few more, so I'll ask about the discount at Ace. Now if I could just choose a color....

  4. I love this! I am about to start repainting the inside of our house and I am always looking for someone who has really great taste to copy. I love the colors in your house. use for color swatches...bookmarks!


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