It’s almost June, which means home buying season is in full swing. Ah, I remember when we were going through the process of searching for and buying a home (three times in the past seven years!). It is such an emotional time, but also one of such joy and excitement when you finally get those keys and move into your new casa.
When we move into a new home, the first thing we have the urge to do is paint. And we want to get it done quickly because we feel like once the painting is done, that’s the point at which we can really begin unpacking and decorating our new space.
But we’ve all made this classic decorating mistake — and some of us have done it more than once (like me!): We find a paint color we think we love that we spotted online or as we were cruising hurriedly down the aisles of the local home improvement store. But then we get it home and start painting only to discover that the color isn’t what we expected. Cue disappointment, maybe a slew of expletives, and definitely a glass of wine.
Well, after choosing the wrong paint color for a room not one or two but three times, I’ve put together a few tips to keep you from making the same mistake:
- Go see your selected paint color in person. Yep, I realize this sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’re in a hurry to get things done and have kids in tow, it feels so much easier to go pick out a paint color online and then send your partner to the store to pick it up. I’ve done this a handful of times, and each time I was sorry that I didn’t take the time to go and see the paint swatch in person. The colors on our computer screens and phones vary, so it’s nearly impossible to view a paint color online and know exactly how that’s going to transfer to your walls. Beyond that challenge, there are so many more reasons to make the effort to go see your paint selection in person. And that leads me to tip #2…..
- Take a piece of upholstery from your room with you to the paint store. Any good designer will tell you that you should never choose a paint color first without having your decor in mind for a given room. Well, it’s true. Don’t choose paint first. I repeat: Don’t choose paint first. Instead, take some kind of textile from your new space — maybe that’s a fabric swatch of the curtains you’ve just ordered or a patterned pillow cover — and hold it up to the paint swatches in the store. Trust me: You don’t want to just walk in without some kind of fabric and hope you remember exactly what shade of blue is in your pillows and your area rug. That rarely ends well.
- Make sure to view the paint swatch in natural light. Those fluorescent lights at your local hardware store? Yeah, they’re not the same as the lighting that’s in your home. Besides, there is often zero natural light in home improvement shops, so you should always take the paint swatch you think you like outside the store and look at it in natural light. Even if you’re just walking out the front door for five minutes to see what that paint looks like on a sunny day, this is important because the paint color is going to look different depending on your light sources.
- Take note of your paint color’s physical place in the paint store display, and note the nearby colors. If you’ve done steps one through three and still aren’t sure that you’re making the right paint choice, here’s what I think is the most helpful hint of all: Look where your paint swatch is placed in the store’s display and look directly to all sides of it. What colors are on the left, and the right? Above it? Below? Many times these neighboring swatches will give you a good indication of the undertones of your particular paint choice. For example, if you’re looking for a gray paint and it’s right next to a set of blue swatches, chances are high that the particular gray you’ve chosen has some blue undertones. If you want to read more about undertones and how they can often make or break your paint choice, here’s a good article to skim.
What do you think? Were these tips helpful?
And have you ever kicked yourself for choosing the wrong paint color? If so, what did you do differently the next time around? Tell me in the comments!