As a professional of 10 years, painting many houses and offices, I would like to share with you how to get your paint selections right the first time that has beautiful and  rewarding and results.

One thing that the designer hates, is having small paint chip samples to choose from and then to be able to place that particular color on a very large scale wall.  It just drives us crazy!!  And, of course, being a paid professional on top of that, just adds all that more pressure!  There are a couple of companies that will sell you larger paint decks like Dunn & Edwards and some companies provide a larger paint sheet that can be purchased which can be helpful, but can get expensive.


Ok, so here is my personal real life process and advise to give you the result you are looking for:


Step 1:  Google inspiration photos with the type of room and paint color that you are looking for and even incorporate in the search box some of the major brand names like, Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball, Sherwin Williams and Dunn & Edwards.


Step 2:  Once you find a sample of the color your want, print out that image and take it with you when you go to the paint store.  If the image color that you love says Dunn & Edwards, start at that store.  But, don’t be surprised when you get there that the actual color of the image stated is much different looking in person.  Just take your image and  search for a color that is as close as possible.  If there isn’t any, then go to another major brand store and try to find the closest match.

Step 3:  When you think you found it, order a quart and a brush, blue tape and drop cloth to take home with you.


Step 4:  Apply that quart of paint in the room that you are going to paint on at least two different walls.  The proper way to apply that paint is to make sure you have it right up against your case and base moulding color.  The area painted should be as large as possible, about 2-3 feet wide by 6-8 feet high. This is important, do not make it any more difficult for yourself by painting small patches.   You must paint at least two coats of paints. This is a must!  No being lazy here!  Make sure to let the first coat completely dry before painting the second coat or it will lift the first coat and you will be defeating the whole purpose of how that color will really look on the wall.


Step 5:  Next, study your samples for a 2-3 days on the wall at different times of day because of the light variation that takes place. 


Step 6:  Place any large items (chairs, fabric, tables) if possible near or in front of the wall color and see how it plays off of it.  The color will change when the room is completed and you might be surprised how much better it looks when all the elements are in the room.


Step 7:  If it is a hit, then proceed to paint.  If it is a miss, then make a note on the back of the color chip on which direction you want to go.  For example: Your sample is grey.  Your note on the back can say,  “a little darker and a warmer grey”.  Repeat Steps 3, 4 and 5.

Keep on reading as I have some very important tips that will make a big difference when you start to paint!!…….


The Crazy Designer Option!: Ok, personally if I am tired of running back and forth to the paint store, I will custom mix the color that is closest to the look that I want.  If I need the color to go darker,  I will add a little (I mean tiny!) of black and stir until the achieved look I am going for is right.  If I need it lighter, then I will add a white (Dunn Edwards Basic White).  I will stir well and paint a couple of coats on the lid or a small board, again several coats.  Then I will take it to Dunn Edwards or any other paint company and have them match that paint color.


Tips:  Always bring your moulding color with you and if you have a multi colored fabric that is in the same room.  Bring it along.  Carry a little design shopping bag with you so you won’t loose your chip samples.


Business Painting Tips:  When repainting your walls that have darker colors, make sure to specify with your painter and on his contract that he will prime all the walls, doors, casings and moldings and do at least 2 coats of your chosen paint color on top of that.  No Less!!!!   Also, make sure that all hardware and lighting, plug plates are removed so they don’t paint over them.  Walk your paint job often and make sure that they are properly covering your furniture and other items.  Also, Rosin paper (from Home Depot) can actually leave dye on light stone floors when they drop water on it.  So make sure what they are placing on the floor so it does not do thousands of dollars of damage.  They should use only blue tape to mask down paper on your wood floors or the yellow tape will actually do damage and lift the finish and color of your floor.  Spraying the walls is best when you have smooth, level 4 walls.  It will cost more, but it is worth it.  Make sure they do not dump their paint in your back or front yard garden as that is a common practice of the painter.  Make sure to have a start and completion date on your contract and not more than a 10% deposit to start.  Any good sub-contractor usually never asks for any money in advance, that is how confident they are in their professional abilities.  The one’s that are always asking for money are the biggest nightmares and that is a red flag!  Don’t hire them if they keep changing the money story.  Balance due should be paid only when fully completed and inspected by you with your approval.  Take blue tape and place small pieces where they need to touch up.  If they ask you in the middle of the paint job for money, tell them NO!  They will try to give you a sob story, but, be strong and tell them if they really need the money, they will finish the job.   When 100% satisfied, then you can pay them in full.  Always get good referrals for a painter because this trade is a nightmare to the designer and homeowner.  I urge you to follow my advise that I have just noted,  as I have been thru some painful painting nightmares.


My Personal Tip On Paint Finishes That I Love:  First, I love really smooth finish walls that do not have the sprayed stucco finish.  I will always specify a level 4 finish wall if I have the design opportunity when the subs are doing drywall.  I always use a supreme flat finish for the walls even in the kitchen and bathrooms and a satin finish for the casings, base moldings and doors. . The reason is that to me with my eye, it does make a difference and in the interior design world it is all about the details.  These small details make a big difference.  My kitchen cabinetry will always be professionally painted  by my cabinet maker with a lacquer satin paint finish. 

My Secret & Amazing Personal White Custom Color Mix.  My Gift To You!    I use this custom color on many of my projects and I love it!  My secret white color mix is 50% Dunn Edwards – White #DEW380 mixed with 50% Benjamin Moore – White Dove OC-17.  And there you go!  I find this white to be fresh and modern, but goes well with traditional style elements.  It is not too cool or too warm looking.  


Well I hope all this helps.  This is the actual process that I use for my clients and my personal home.  Everyone has a different process, but this is the one that works for me.  I can say that I am a custom mixer of different paint colors and find that I am happiest with those colors.  I try to leave a gallon to store for touch up and then when it runs out it is time to pick a new color for that room.

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