You don’t need to know that next week is National Painting Week to feel the itch to add fresh color to your home. A splash of Rapture Blue in the laundry room, perhaps? A taste of Zesty Apple in the bath? A little Late Day Sun in the foyer?
Spring has a way of making us hungry for a new palette. As one design writer put it: “Spring = painting projects.” Even a small change can make a big difference.
And so can gathering a few pointers. Anyone who has fretted days, weeks, even months over paint chips knows there’s much more to the process than throwing down a drop cloth and cracking open a paint can.
Turn the page for six tips to get you started – before you pick up that brush:
Tip 1: Sample the color
Whether you tape several large-size paint chips to the wall or spend a few dollars on a sample-size container of the actual paint, it’s best to first live with a block of the color you’re considering.
“You have to see how it looks on your wall because one color in someone’s home is a completely different color in someone else’s home,” said Sandy Nelson, a local interior designer who runs Designs of the Times.
Among the options: Schuele Paint Co. loans out 8-inch square samples of its Benjamin Moore paint colors, for example. At Lowe’s, 8-ounce color samples from Valspar’s spring palette collections are among those available. Priced at $2.98 each, these contain enough paint for a 4-by-4-foot sample board or section of wall.
However you do it, get the paint color on the wall in the room. Throwing a sample on the coffee table won’t work. Place it where and at the angle you intend to put it.
“Look at it over the course of a few days – in the morning, in the evening, with natural light, with sunlight, with gray skies – so you can really see how the paint changes with the available light,” Nelson said.
“This is especially true with neutrals. Any of the pale earth tones – your khakis, your warm tans – change so much. They can be a beautiful paper-bag brown in the daytime, and at night they can look a sickly green. They definitely take on different tones depending on the light,” she said.
Tip 2: Be a better painter
Whether you take advantage of online tools, watch HGTV or pick up pointers from a paint store or home-improvement center, it’s worth taking the time to learn. The website of your favorite paint brand is one place to start. Here you’ll find tips, advice, videos and more on picking colors/finishes, prepping rooms, applying paint and more. Also, keep an eye out for color-themed publications. The February issue of Better Homes and Gardens is devoted to color, with more ideas and inspiration on the website, www.bhg.com.
One tip from the magazine: “Choose colors based on the use of a room. Morning rooms can be brighter; rooms used at night can go dark,” said Beth Kushnick, a set decorator.
Tip 3: Get off the walls
Be creative and put some paint in different places. You can add fresh color to the insides of cabinets, the back walls of bookcases and, a popular look now, the risers on stairs.
“You can also hand-paint shapes like headboards on a wall,” Nelson said.
Tip 4: Look up
Many people think white when they think about ceilings. But a painted ceiling adds depth to a room, said color consultant/painter Jason R. Kruszka of Kruszka Interiors.
He’s been painting more colored ceilings the last couple of years. He even recently painted a 10-foot-high ceiling black in a 6-by-10-foot entryway, with the walls a light gray and the trim cream.
“It’s stunning. When you walk in there, it has this dramatic impact. Sometimes, the statement isn’t always made on the walls. The ceiling can be the focal point. Painting a ceiling – especially a darker color – really puts a twist on the whole room,” he said.
Your eye is not used to seeing it that way, so when you throw a bold color up there it is really something quite new.
Tip 5: Use the right tools
Another tip from Kruszka: A lot of people rely on tape to do their edging. The most accurate way to get a straight line is freehand, not that everyone has the skill to do that. If you have to use tape for a nice straight edge, he recommends FrogTape.
As for brushes, his top choice is an angled sash.
“I’ve also learned through the years to pay the extra money for a better brush. It will hold its shape better and hold its point when you are cutting in. I can get a much crisper line with the brush I use, but my brushes are 20-some dollars a brush. Not everyone wants to spend that,” he said.
Tip 6: Keep an open mind
Neutrals are nice, but bold hues – what Nelson calls “Lilly Pulitzer colors,” referring to the late designer’s exuberant hues – are really catching on.
“I’m not a pink girl; I’m not a girly-girl. I like black, silver, white and gray. But I’m really liking these hot fuchsias, turquoises and apple greens. You can use them anywhere,” Nelson said.
Try them in black and white bathrooms (picture one with apple green or turquoise walls); kids’ rooms; bedrooms; backs of bookcases.
“Say you have a gray room, which is a great neutral these days. Paint the back of your bookcases a deep fuchsia and throw some fuchsia pillows on your sofa, and it really brings that exciting spark to your room,” she said.
It’s going to be a colorful spring.