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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lets talk Paint!

[Warning: If you don't like talking about paint, you might want to leave now and check in on my next post! Many might find this post boring, as I can wax poetic (and at great length!) when it comes to paint. There... you have been warned!]

I love paint! I mean, I really love paint. I read books about paint! One of my favorite paint books is Color by Donald Kaufman. For the last several months House Beautiful has been doing a regular column on paint colors... fun!
I love the psychology behind paint colors and picking paint colors! With so many factors going into picking the perfect color for a room it makes the process a bit overwhelming for lots people. For me, if you think of the process both logically and emotionally it will take some of the confusion out of it.
Here's my take on paint....

I think a lot of people are intimidated by so many choices. When you pick up a fan deck or look at the wall of paint chips at the paint store many people just give up then and there. Keep in mind, just like walking into a clothing store... you aren't going to like every dress you see, and even if you fall in love with a dress it might not look good on you!

Try to pick colors that evoke a certain feel in you and in your room. You can't just pick a color because it is pretty, or you like it, or it matches your sofa, or it looks great at your best friend's house.... Certainly all of those factors come into play, but picking based on only one of those choices might not get you the perfect color for your room.

Keep an open mind. Sometimes a color you don't necessarily love on the chip will make your room sing because of the light in the room.

Don't become too attached to any color without seeing it in the room you want to paint at different times of the day. You might love it in the morning and hate it at night.... Paint large patches on the walls or on poster board to really get a feel for the color. Painting your samples on poster board lets you move the sample around the room holding it next to the floor or your ceiling.

Don't fall in love with a paint because of it's name. It sounds funny, but people do it!

I think a huge factor in paint picking success is the natural light you have or don't have in the room. Our last house didn't have a lot of natural light (and then we had plantation shutters on all the windows which made it even darker still), so because of this I was able to use darker, deeper tones of colors. This farmhouse has amazing light and I was shocked to pull out the samples of colors from my last house and to see how deep they were. They didn't read dark in the old house because they were in a darker environment. I've always described my palette as the colors you see when looking at a dried hydrangea. My new colors could be described the same, only the colors have lighter values than my old colors.

Take your time. I spent hours going through colors. I would dismiss a color only to go back to it again! Be patient. Slowly, but surely the right color(s) will speak to you if you look, and listen to how you feel when you see the color in the room.

Decide what you want to draw attention to and attention away from; and make the colors work for you to that end. In our last house people would always comment that they loved my paint colors. My colors brought your eye into the room. I intended to do that as I didn't want your eye looking out the window and seeing my neighbor's garage door! I didn't have a lot of architectural detail (it was a 1950's ranch), so color played a powerful role in defining and describing the interior space. The farmhouse is totally different. I don't want you to walk in and see any particular wall color... I want you to feel the house, and see the fabulous views through all the windows. I don't want your eye to stop on the inside. (Hey, I told you I liked the psychology part of paint!!) I wanted all the colors to gently play off of one another. I didn't want there to be big contrasts in colors between rooms (I used much more contrasting paint colors in our last house.) There's a natural gentleness and flow to the house and I wanted that to be complimented by the paint colors.

I like Benjamin Moore paints. When we were selling our house people would walk in and say, "Oh, you just painted" to which Dan and I would smile knowing that the last time we painted was 15 years ago! Their paints hold up well to say the least. I also love their additional sheens which I haven't found with any other paint company (they might be out there, I just haven't found them!)

I am very fond of chameleon colors- colors that change throughout the day. Colors that read one way in one light, and read another in a different light.

So, after much ado here is my list of colors. Some of which even surprised me, even now I will look at a chip when I'm not at the farmhouse and think "that's the color?" but, in the house the color works beautifully with the light. I'm really please with how they all feel when you see them in the room.

My colors:
All trim/doors/cabinets : White Dove in Latex Satin Impervo
All ceilings (except where noted) : White Dove in Pearl Finish
All walls & ceiling paint is BM's Regal line of paints.

Living Room/Reading Room/Stair Walls & Upstairs Hall: Ashwood OC-47 in Eggshell (a soft gray/green/putty)

Dining Room: Halo OC-46 in Eggshell (a shade lighter than the living room. a whisper of a color. I wanted something that was soothing and would make my ironstone and white plates pop!)

Kitchen: Gray Owl OC-52 in Eggshell (a gray with lots of green undertones)

Guest Bedroom: Overcast OC-43 in Eggshell (green with gray undertones)

Guest Bedroom: Misty Air OC- 44 in Eggshell (golden with gray/brown undertones)

Guest Bath: Moonshine OC-56 in Eggshell /ceiling also in same color (a gray/green)

Master Bedroom: Titanium OC-49 in Eggshell (gray with just a hint of blue)

Master Bath: Horizon OC-53 in Eggshell /ceiling also in same color (for me that elusive french gray/blue color that is so hard to pinpoint! Sometimes you look at it and think it's gray and other times you think it's blue.) The tub-body will be painted Sleigh Bells 1480 in High Gloss which is a darker, deeper version of Horizon.

(if you're still with me at this point.... thanks for letting me go on, and on, and on.....!)


  1. Boring? Anything but. I just read your post and found your approach to choosing paint facinating. I have been with you on this journey of choosing the right paint for over 22 years and although I have seen you bond with your paint wheels, OK, boxes of paint wheels and swatches and held painted poster boards for you here and there, I have never heard this consolidated approach to your psycology. I have been privy to "snapshots" of your work process and taken great pleasure in living in your creations, but until reading this post, did not understand your struggle as you toss and turn with the choices. Guess it's a guy thing. I'm going to claim this as an Ah-Ha moment.
    Hang in there Baby, it's almost over.
    Your Husband

  2. Oh my goodness! I love paint and selecting the colors (even if I am not successful the first time I paint the two coats and the next day I paint again!) I enjoyed reading Dan's comment. It's great to have supportive spouses in our corner. This past weekend, I painted a wall in a 3-color argyle pattern (in a bathroom). Mike kept cheering me on, even when I doubted the color selection. As always, I so enjoy reading your posts...the passion you have for bringing the farmhouse to a farm'home' is so evident. I wish you and Dan years of happiness in your home.

  3. I always wanted to be the person that got to name the colors for the paint company! Fun job, eh?

    Loved your interpretation, could only have been better if you showed us all the rooms along with your description of the color. But I know that is a challenge ;)

    I was always amused by people that want to know the EXACT color I painted a room (was always so foreign to me). I don't remember the name, let alone the brand...and often will mix colors I have at hand to get the feel I want.

    You were so spot on about the light and every room/house/corner of the world reading the same color differently. This corner of the world has such a saturated light...I find the colors need to be a bit more saturated.

    Loved your color psychology...and can even "see" the colors without actually seeing them because of your descriptions.

    Like coolio garage man's take too. He's a keeper, eh?!

  4. I completely agree with loving the chameleon colors. It's great to see the change during the day. Oh, and white dove is what I used for all our trim. It's a great white, isn't it? I'll go find my fan decks later today and have fun looking at your other choices!

  5. love paint and love, love, love this post. Your advise about selecting colors is spot on. I can't wait to pull out my fan deck to see all the colors you've chosen. ...and I am so on the same page-- The House beautiful paint section is actually the first thing I flip to!

    *also love the comment from your husband. though mine has not (yet?) commented on my blog, he's shared similar "ah ha's" from reading my ramblings that somehow were lost on him all those times i tried to explain ;)actually, i think finding the right white (paint) being one of those times....

    paint really does signify the 'home stretch' so congratulations!

  6. I looked up your paint selections. Beautiful! It won't be long now before you are living in your home!

  7. Dan's comments made me cry. Knowing both of you and how much he loves you, it was sooooo DAN! He is a master in his own right too. What talent he has for turning y'alls 'finds' into masterpieces in his workshop.

    Of all the beautiful treasures you have though Joanie, (and you have a lot), Dan is the best one, next is Ella. I know he and Bob are the BEST brothers-in-law anyone could have!!!!!

    Your anonymous sister ;)

  8. Great post! I'm beginning to become an expert painter with all of the rooms we have to redo! I love paint too! :( Most recent was BM Smoke (blue/gray) in the powder room which is currently under construction. We're BM fans too so I'm off to search your colors! Thanks!

  9. Great, just great! I cannot wait to see it all finished! WOW

  10. Oh my - what a husband! Well, this is all still too funny - I have to come back and read word for word,(just checking in at the moment) but I can tell you now, I swear by Benjamin Moore paints and love my Donald Kaufman book on color!I also save every one of those House Beautiful color pages! I will email soon - yes, again - because guess what?... you reminded me that I had a space at Park Cities antique mall, too!

  11. Oh Joan, what a great post, made even more fab by Dan's gorgeous comments! I honestly think Benjamin Moore would be crazy not to hire you pronto - you would be such an asset to their business.
    Millie ^_^
    P.S. MOTH is by his own admission a 'Computer Neanderthal', still doesn't get what a blog is & I think if I found a comment from him over @ The Hedge I'd need to be given CPR!

  12. Very interesting to hear the info about picking paint colors but what I can't wait to see is your choices up on the walls!

  13. You are so right about taking time to choose your colors and painting a large patch on the walls. I did that the last time we repainted and the color I loved on the swatch was not the one I loved on the living room walls. Can't wait to see your home painted in all your color! Connie

  14. OMGosh! I am so happy to read all of your paint comments! I enjoyed reading each one of them! thank you so much for leaving them! I am so happy that you love talking about paint as much as I do!!

    A special thank you to my dear Dan- the love of my life, my best friend, and my partner in this remodel crime! I was totally blown away to find a comment from you and then to read your thoughtful loving words made me cry.... You are my everything and I can not wait to get to live in this wonderful home with you and Ella! Thank you for your constant love, support and understanding!
    you are my heart, j.

  15. Love letting you go on and on about paint - it is a great subject after all, xv.

  16. my kids make fun of me and my fan decks. Got such a chuckle from this post... there are other people like me out there!

  17. Your colors are such a "Ah-ha" statementfor me also.
    You must have some Very special natural light in NH. I'm sure everything will be fabulous as always. Love You.

  18. Loved this post... but as another paint lover how could I not? Your hubbys comment was so very sweet. Off to get my BennieM fan deck to check out your colors..White Dove has always been a fave of mine - can't wait to check out the others...I feel a painting spree coming on here at this old farm ;)

  19. Joanie--
    Your choice of picking the right colors for me when I have remodeled my homes have always been so right for the rooms--I have often told many people -- what "a perfect eye" you have colors--I will never forget the great "Battle Ship Grey" you picked for my tiny 1/2 bath-- with black printed wallpaper--I couldn't imagine the wood walls painted that ugly color-- but it all out worked so well --I had many guest come out of the bathroom and comment on what a beautiful bathroom it was and I was proud to tell them you had helped me with all the colors in the house--- Thank you Joan-- could use you again
    with my new home !!!
    Love you, Mama


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