Painting New Colours – What to Expect

Reaching the decision to change the colours on your walls is a feat in itself.  Then, you discover there are thousands and thousands  of paint colours to choose from.  It’s enough to intimidate even the most decisive of people.

The ideal way to save yourself from days, weeks (I even hear about years!) of analysis paralysis, is to bring in a professional interior decorator or colour consultant for an hour or two.  The relief of knowing that you’ve made good colour choices with the help of someone who understands how and why colours work or don’t, will save you from the expense of repainting in six months or living with a colour that makes you frown every time you walk in the room.  Most interior decorators are certified colour consultants and he/she can help you understand why a colour in your living room looks fresh, but muddy in your hallway or why that soft grey is perfect in your neighbour’s house and hideous in yours.   Whether you seek help or choose to forge ahead boldly, here are some pointers that will help you feel confident about your colours.

  1. Compare paint swatches in isolation – away from the colours you’ll be changing. Never hold a swatch against the wall you’re going to paint.
  2. Look at the new paint colours only with items/colours you’ll be keeping.
  3. For neutrals, especially light neutrals, they will be strongly affected by the existing prominent wall, ceiling and floor colours.  If any of these are changing, you’ll need to look at the new colours outdoors with items/colours that you plan to pair them with. In fact, when choosing a white or off-white, it’s best to select outdoors away from full sun.  Be aware of how other colours influence your perception of a white or off-white.
  4. Paint a piece of drywall, board or foam core that you can move around to view in different lighting conditions and areas of your room/home.
  5. Don’t paint a patch on the wall to test it.  It will most likely look awful, only because it will be strongly affected by the surrounding colour.
  6. Be confident that you’ve made good choices and don’t chicken out or second guess yourself at the first coat stage.  You need to wait until the room is completely finished to really see the new colour.
  7. Please don’t allow your well-meaning painter to undermine your confidence in the choices you’ve made.  For example, some painters will express surprise at instructions to paint a ceiling anything but a base white flat ceiling paint.  Your decorator/consultant has recommended each colour and sheen for specific reasons and he/she would be doing you a great disservice by specifying a base white flat ceiling.
  8. Give yourself two weeks to allow your brain to adapt to the new colour.  Our brains store details on how our everyday surroundings look (so we don’t wear ourselves out re-processing unchanging information).  When something has changed, it can take many days for our brain to stop saying, “Whoa! That’s different!”
Mod-House-Canning-NS-Deborah-Nicholson
two-tone bathroom

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