Paint is the Pandora’s Box of home decorating. It seems so harmless—choose a color, throw a gallon of paint up on the walls, and call it good, right? But then you’re squinting at color swatches at the crack of dawn, trying to discern the difference between fiesta yellow and sunbeam (for the record, they’re basically the same). Then there’s the second-guessing at the hardware store, the utter despair when you realize your paint looks hideous in artificial light, and this vicious cycle begins anew. To learn how to pick a paint color like a boss, I asked three local pros to give me their best advice. Here’s what I learned.
Owner, Queen Anne Painting
Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute; color consultant, Eiseman and Associates
Go with Your Gut
If you’re having a difficult time settling on a specific hue, here’s a word of advice: Relax. “People get all nervous because they think it’s a big decision,” Wold says. But putting pressure on the decision often leads to more second-guessing. Wold suggests looking for colors you naturally gravitate toward, like shirts, posters, or knick-knacks around the home. “That’s a more honest choice.”
Never Swatch On the Wall
Both Wold and Bolt say swatching on the wall is a big no-no. “When you paint a swatch on the wall, you can’t help but look at it and the existing wall color at the same time,” Wold says. Your eye is forced to mix the colors, which often leads to an off choice. Bolt adds that wall swatches can leave behind a shadow or line after being painted over. Instead, swatch on a white poster board, which can be reviewed objectively and also beside furniture, tile, counters, trim, and flooring.
If you’re gravitating toward a daring shade but are afraid to take the plunge, Eiseman suggests coloring one wall instead of all four. “Paint is one of the least expensive and quickest ways to integrate something new into the environment,” she says. “One accent wall with a beautiful piece of art or a sofa sitting in front of it has real impact.”
Pantone, the international authority on all things color, selected marsala as 2015’s color of the year. It’s a deep, sophisticated wine red that Eiseman says symbolizes nourishment, fulfillment, and stability. Those looking to incorporate it into their home can go in multiple directions. For traditional spaces, blend it in with wood and colors with brown undertones. Metallics, particularly copper and gold, also pair nicely with marsala. And for the unexpected choice, Eiseman suggests reaching across the color wheel and mixing it with teal or cobalt blue. “It’s more of a surprise,” she says.
Forget the Rules
Ever been told that dining rooms should be red or bedrooms should be blue? All our pros put the kibosh on that. “Rules can stifle creativity,” Bolt says. “I have always felt there was never an inappropriate color and never a color combination that doesn’t work.” The important thing, she notes, is to find something that ties together a color scheme. Pull from details in a piece of art or an area rug.
This article appeared in the February 2015 issue of Seattle Met magazine.