Thursday, June 6, 2013

Adventures in Painting

I hate painting, but there is one thing I hate more: deciding on paint colors.

God, what a headache!! I spend more time analyzing paint chips than I do actually painting (which did I mention-- I hate).

Now this is preference, but I really, really love Benjamin Moore Aura paint. They only typically need one coat of paint which is awesome because that's less painting. Yay! Because I hate painting. :)

Did I get my point across?

My biggest problem is that I never know which paint colors to choose! And that's when I met my favorite interior designer!

Did you know that Pottery Barn offers FREE in store interior design consults? FREE. There is no minimum sale or gimmicks. It's FREE. Of course, they push their own products, but you don't have to buy anything. But I'll be impressed if you don't buy something. :)

Poor Celeste (my interior designer). She had no idea what she was in for. I came to the appointment with a binder of ideas. Haha! After three hours, I left with a lot more knowledge about colors than I ever thought I could have.

Pick your colors based on your favorite decorative accessory in your home: a pillow, curtains, bedding, or artwork. 

If you don't have one, then she said it's important to find it before you start painting. She said if you find something you love and it doesn't match your color scheme, then you're back to square one or you're repainting your room. 

Pottery Barn pillows

I decided on my three main colors based on my favorite pillow, the Josephine Lumbar Pillow. Isn't it pretty? I loved the burnt red, hints of green and the dreamy blue mixed together. 


To keep a good flow pick only a handful of colors, three maximum, and repeat them throughout the house in different degrees. Neutrals (whites, grays, tans, blacks) can be without taking one of your three color picks. You can even use the same paint in different rooms to bring cohesion to your house.

For example, I used red, purple and blue as my primary colors. I use gray, white and tan as my neutral colors. 

She told me that you should pick a color for the walls in one room and use the other colors for accessories. When you move to the next room, select a different color from your palate, and rotate the accessory colors.

Ex: My bedroom is blue with purple and white accents, the guest room is red with white and tan accents, and the living room is gray with red and blue accents. 

The repetition of colors throughout the house makes things cohesive.

How to Pick Complementary Colors:

When in doubt of what colors to choose -- look at a color wheel.

The easiest way is to pick a color next to your primary color or directly across from it. Let's look at GREEN: 

Color Wheel

If you had a green room, then accents of blue or yellow would be appropriate. Red accents would be a more of a bold statement, but hey girl-- you can rock it. 


When choosing a color, always consider the things you cannot remove (cabinets, countertops, tile) or are too expensive to change (bed headboard, sofa, dining room table). 

She focused mainly on my granite when deciding on a color for the great room. We looked at the granite next to color swatches and put them in a pile if the combination made us happy. It seemed like everything I liked was in the taupe gray family so, obviously, that was the way to go.

Cumulus cloud and Kentucky Haze Benjamin Moore
Ben Moore Cumuls Cloud and Kentucky Haze
In this picture you can see the granite next to the wall color, "Cumulus Cloud" (Ben Moore).

In full sun it looks gray, in a darker room it looks more taupe, and in certain lights it looks like it has a hint of green. You can see a little bit of difference in the wall color in this picture on the left and the picture (above) of the Josephine lumbar pillow-- the walls look darker and more gray in the other picture, but they are the same color.

Celeste recommended that I paint the entire great room "Cumulus Cloud" to make it look bigger. She said that painting each room a different color will actually make the room look smaller and if I want to add color, then use a different color on accent walls or niches or add colorful accessories.


If you want to paint an accent wall, a niche or a door something differently than your trim, a good "safe" rule is that you go up or down on the color swatch at least 2 colors from your main color.

I decided to do just that on an accent wall in the living room: River Reflections (two shades darker than Cumulus Cloud).


All colors have an undertone. If you can find colors with a similar undertone, they will work beautifully together.

I picked colors with a gray undertone to tie everything together. Again, using my Josephine Pillow as inspiration, I picked my bedroom color: Kentucky Haze (Ben Moore). It's the color that's in the doorway in the picture (above). You can see that it complements the tone of "Cumulus Cloud".

master bedroom
Kentucky Haze, Benjamin Moore
I went back to the Josephine Pillow for inspiration and I decided on a red color for the guest room. And then I found this duvet from Pottery Barn: it has the same kind of red lining the curves of the seashell, but it also has hints of blue, tan and gray. Perfection!

Beach guest room inspiration

It's called Spiced Apple Cider by Benjamin Moore

Spiced Apple Cider by Benjamin Moore
Spiced Apple Cider Ben Moore
And then I went to my other favorite pillow for the office color. A decided to use the tan color which was in the pillow and it matched nicely to Shake Beige (Ben Moore).

design inspiration

shaker beige
Shaker Beige Ben Moore

I had a lot of trouble deciding on trim-- do I use white or more of an antique white? I decided to put all my painting choices on this canvas with my two favorite trims to see which I liked more. The choice is obvious, don't you think? The main colors all have a gray undertone, but the Chantilly Lace has a yellow undertone so they clashed with the gray base. The super white is... well, white. I thought that having a gray based trim would make things look too gray. I'm glad I went with Super White by Benjamin Moore.

It's perfect.

benjamin moore paints (cumulus cloud, shaker beige, wedding chapel, kentucky haze, spiced appled cider, super white)
Left to Right (top): River Reflections, Shaker Beige, Going to the Chapel, Cumulus Cloud, Kentucky Haze
Trim (middle): Super White (top) and Chantilly Lace (bottom)
 (bottom): Spiced Apple Cider was the change from the top row


ALWAYS use samples. Always paint a swatch on the room on different walls and in different lighting because colors will always look differently in different areas of your house.

Lighting plays a huge role in how your colors look-- a bedroom with a eastern exposure will have more soft light while one with a western exposure will have more bright light. Southern exposures will have the most constant light while northern exposures will have the least amount of light of all. And that's why you need samples! You can't be assured that a color will look the same in every room.

I did read that using white on walls is best reserved for southern exposures because when not in full sun they will look dirty and more gray.

I hope that some of what I shared will help you decide on your own color choices.

Happy painting!

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