Friday, March 11, 2011

Speaking of Paint...

I was having a not-so-great week on the hormone front...A little sad, a little too edgy, really tired.  I needed to expend some physical energy, but the ferocious weather outside dissuaded me from yard work or walking.                                                                                                  
Frog Tape 82021 Pro Painters Masking Tape, 1-1/2-Inch by 60-Yards, Green       I looked around me and noticed the approximately 2 inches of old paint showing around the tops of the walls, up against the ceiling, in the kitchen.  I repainted the kitchen walls in August, and even bought the Frog Tape I needed for masking, but never got around to getting that last little bit of the task finished.  So there was my exercise for the day.                                                                                                                                               
I have been through enough paint-then-repaint experiences in my life, that I should not have been at all surprised with the disappointment with my in-laws' paint, expressed in I Could Just Cry...  and this fairly recent kitchen job should have been fresh enough in my mind.  First too green (Ralph Lauren Lincolnshire Olive). Then too light and too gold (Benjamin Moore Light Khaki). Then, by objective comparison of where I'd been, what I did, and what other options I had, I found my 'happy medium' and 'right' color....a pleasant background color that by virtue of having no obvious color of its own (is it green? gray? tan?), let the other colors in my kitchen stand out (BM Sag Harbor Gray).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
As I finished this job, I reflected on the things I've learned about choosing wall paint colors, particularly in how light or dark to go:                                                                                                       
Want to change my range area
cabinets from bluish-gray to
creamy-gray...But want to keep
the same value/contrast.
1) Use what you know as a guide.  Don't trust the paint chips to be an indication of how light or dark the paint will appear on the walls...You have it sitting on a colored surface that will affect it's contrast, and probably in bright light.  Walls won't always have either.  Even if the colors are different, you can hold a paint sample up to a wall whose depth of color (lightness/darkness) you want, and squint until the color fades and you can get a clearer idea of how the proposed color compares to the one you are familiar with.                                                                                                                                     
2) Don't be afraid to ask to see the 'recipe' for different paint colors at the mixing desk.  If you've ever ended up with a taupe that turned lavender, or a tan that looked rose or apricot, you know that undertones make a huge difference in the overall impression of color on the walls.  You might not notice those in a 1x2 swatch on a paint strip.  I chose a "nice light green" one time that looked putrid, and not at all fresh and restful as I'd hoped, on the walls.  I checked the  list of tints that went in...One of them was black!                                                                                                                                      
3) Light-medium or lighter colors will almost always look lighter when on the wall.    However, walls painted with darker or more intense colors can reflect off of each other and become overbearing.  My girls first chose a happy meadow green for their room...Wow...Way too much green.  I wish I could advise better on which colors will get lighter, and which will compound from reflection and look darker...   Most are obvious, but I'm sure there is a middle ground of colors that might go either way.                                                                                                                                                                
4) The shinier the paint finish, the lighter the paint will look.  This is true, not just for walls, but for woodwork and cabinet colors.                                                                                      
The pencil points to the 'white' I chose for
my in-laws' cabinets.  They'll look a nice,
very light cream...I promise!
5) Almost whites: I've already said that undertones matter, so I can understand why people get caught up in the nuances of different whites.  But when any white-white is on the cabinets or walls, especially without the other swatches to compare to, it's going to look very white and those nuances get lost.  When planning any 'off-white,' and you want to see the undertones and more character to the color, I recommend going to the 2nd notch down on the color strip. Or when considering the paint manufacturer's collection of whites, look at those that, in comparison to the rest, no longer look white.  They may look dingy/dismal/dirty on the strip, but will brighten on the painted object.                                                                                                               
Obviously, all of this 'wisdom' hasn't made me into a paint choosing guru...but I'm getting there?  I love paint as a way to change up a room for under $50 and in just a day or two...depending on how long it takes you to get around to the cutting in!  Next time, I'll bite the bullet and do that first.

Subtle difference, but big to me


  1. I never tire of seeing your kitchen. Glad you could check an item off your list. We DIYers always have so much trouble with those last few items. It's so easy to let them slide when we're back working in our spaces. I have some trim that needs a coat of paint, and since I'm the painter, I have no one to point a finger at other then myself. Thanks for the push.

  2. I've got SO much paint touching up to do! I've been looking at all the things I'm waiting for DH to do, but there are definitely things on my list. Why is it easier to 'see' other peoples' jobs? ;-)

  3. I love the new color! I have touching up to do in my kitchen as well. We had to replace some of the floor and the back door (due to leaks) very shortly after I painted, and removing the trim from around the door caused the paint to peel. Major bummer.

    I always do the cutting in first. I've learned to use this short-handled angled brush I picked up at Home Depot to cut in - I don't even have to use tape anymore! It's fantastic. I love your new color! Was the first picture taken during the day and the second at night? The lighting looks different as well. And I've always loved your light fixtures and butcher block island!

  4. Don't you love it when one job begets another? :-\

    I am not steady-handed and willing to be focused enough not to use tape any more. I used to be able to cut in without masking. Then I was too lazy to mask, and now I'm too lazy not to. Weird.

    You're right that the times of day were different in those kitchen photos...AND I now see that the recessed cans were on in one and off in the other. I know that isn't usually a great way to compare, but really these 2 pics do highlight the difference in how the paint colors each looked in the room.


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