Choosing a paint color

pauli12April 18, 2011

We are building a house and I just assumed I would paint it antique white like I have had for the past 25 years.

I am talking about the interior. The exterior is another story.

I have always had wooden cabinets that are a natural light color and knew I wanted to change this to a painted type of cabinet but wasn't sure what color.

I saw the Martha Stewart color called "Ocean Floor" a gray green and liked it and then looked at her colors that coordinated. I liked a color called "milk pail" alot but thought it is too dark for interior. Another one, rainwater mist was light green gray.

My question is how do you know what to do?

I am beginning to think I should go with a really nice creamy white. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Pauli

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jessicaml think about what colors you already have in your decor (carpet, curtains, furniture, etc.) and what color would be a good "ground" for them. And when you think you've narrowed it down to a couple colors, you buy sample paints and paint a poster board or two and stick them on the wall to live with the color for at least a few days. Gradually, you'll figure out which colors you're comfortable with. If you're just starting out, you'll probably want to stick to light, neutral colors.

As an example, my childhood home had white walls & trim, and only after the kids left home did my mom have the courage to try color. First there was a blue and white guest room (what used to be my room). Then she got a new bedspread and painted the master bedroom a pale green. The latest change has been the main living areas in Ben Moore's Palace White (more of a pale warm beige) and a medium brown Truffle in the kitchen. Palace White is probably the most neutral of mom's new colors, but it was the hardest for her to pick since it's in the most used and connected spaces.

Personally, I love the idea of color, but after living with all those white walls growing up and again in my new home with my husband, it can be overwhelming. I have roughly a dozen sample pots of paint in the garage, after learning how different colors look in my home from the store and changing color directions a few times. It can also be helpful, as a starting place, to find out what colors other people like and are using. I get color names from blogs, from home-stager websites, and of course, from here on GW. After months of debating, I think I'll be painting our living room in Edgecomb Gray. I was so afraid of dark colors until I got a sample of Gray Mist and realized it's really almost white. I'm trying to get away from white and didn't think such a light color would be worth the effort.

So, Pauli, get a sample of Milk Pail and a sample of a couple other creamy colors and see how they really look on a larger swatch in your own space! Maybe Milk Pail isn't as dark as you thought, or maybe creamy white picks up a funny reflected color. You don't know til you try. - Ooh, though after googling images of Martha Stewart Milk Pail, I did find some gorgeous rooms in that color! So you can at least get an idea, but the lighting in your space will make a difference.

(on the other hand, there are also people like Maria on the Colour Me Happy blog or interior designers who will help you find a color for a fee - depending on how indecisive you are, it could be cheaper than buying samples!)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:10AM
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Somehow I spaced out the part about it being a newly built which case starting with white (or off-white) can be a safe bet, or pick a few neutrals that play well together.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:19AM
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Lori A. Sawaya

I agree with jessicaml that *neutrals* are a good plan for a new house color scheme.

To answer the question, where do you start...

You start with quality of light first. Think about how much natural light you have to work with and think about how dark you want to go on the walls and ceiling. Keep all you color choices on the lighter side? Not more than a midtone? Or a mix throughout might suit you better.

Then take a look at plans for artificial lighting and how much that should play into your initial color plan - natural light is likely the most important at this point and artificial will be adjusted as you settle in. Ya know, a table lamp here, a torchiere there.

Lastly take color cues from permanent elements like flooring, trim/doors, cabinetry, any wrought ironwork or stonework, etc. Anything that's basically nailed down the day you move in.

If you coordinate wall colors with those permanent elements right out of the gate, you will end up with a cohesive look and atmosphere. You create a shell. If the shell is coordinated, you can build off of that and add more stuff.

As time goes on and you add things and decorate in greater detail and get to know and understand the space a lil better, you can always repaint to suit specific color schemes. Make color more custom room to room.

IMO it's super important to color for your now.

And you can color for you now if you think about it logically and reconcile with the fact that repainting might not only be desired later on, but also necessary due to wear-and-tear and to maintain the home.

There's this cloud of belief out there that you have to paint a new house in colors that will last forever and a year and *goes with everything*. It doesn't have to go with everything (that's a lot of pressure to put on any paint color) it just needs to create that shell or cohesive canvass for you to start making a home now. Color for your now if it's at all logical.

I have more to say about all this in this link:

Here is a link that might be useful: You can color a new house

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 1:32AM
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I did get the 2 color samples yesterday and waiting for the house to be sheetrocked so I can try them out.
Thanks for all the info and I might go with the white for now.
It gave me new perspective reading your replies and now I think my main concern is seeing how the light will be when it is finished on the inside. It seems no matter what color I hold up either outside or outside is either too loud or too muted and wimpy. I want a nice depth but not necessarily dark.
Appreciated the ideas about painting for the now. Good point!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 8:33PM
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It's a good point that until you can test the colors in your space. However, I want to just jump in to reassure you a bit. Muted on a paint chip will not necessarily look at all muted on walls. It's actually recommended to go with choices that have an earthy undertone - or you end up with a crayon room.

Those chips are deceiving, except for those who are highly experienced - or just have a darn good eye for color! For the rest of us, it's test, test, test...and learn as we go. :)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 1:20PM
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