Thursday, July 31, 2008

Changing the Color of Your Room with Paint

Let's address flat finish painting - I call this flat painting - not to be confused with the use of the flat finish, the base of paint - you can use a flat finish base paint (which is matte- no shine), but there are many types of base coats available in paint - I will address this as another topic - there is just so much to write about, and lots of entries to look forward to!

Flat painting is where you choose a color and repaint the room- basically changing the color of a room. It is a finish where you use one color on a wall - in most cases the entire room is painted the same color, but you can get fancy and choose an accent wall to paint a coordinating color or faux finish to spice things up a bit.

For straight flat painting, here is a list of things to consider on how, where and whether to best use this technique -

• Flat painting will give you a clean new look- I would suggest priming first so the true color you choose is what you get. See my suggested experiment to better understand how working with a clean white surface helps bring the true color out.
• The most important thing about painting the room in one color, with no faux finish, is that the walls look best when they are prepped properly.
• Properly prepping the walls entails spackling and sanding - many people like to hire a painter to address this as it is time consuming and messy! If your walls are in bad shape, lots of pock marks, divets or clearly uneven, you may want to consider a faux finish, as it can hide a lot of imperfections.
• This is the time to fix the cracks that have appeared above the door frames or any damage that has been done to the walls over the course of time.

Steps for painting:

1. first take everything out of the room; pictures off the walls, nails out, etc.

2. then take a clean spackle knife and go over every hole, ding or chip in the walls - be sure to smooth over the spackle with the knife to make it flat

3. when it is completely dry - really dry,( or it will come up - trust me, I learned from trying to rush this part)... use fine grit sandpaper and sand the areas spackled and the wall surrounding it to make it even.

4. now you should prime the walls, as the areas with spackle will take the color paint differently than the base wall - so prime the walls.

5. after the walls are dry, you can paint with the chosen color. Be sure to stir the paint thoroughly!

• you can have the local paint store tint your primer with a color close to the one you want to use, this will make painting with your final color easier and give you better coverage.

When you chose to use the tinted primer, then you may only need one coat of your new color, if it is a lighter shade. If you are using a dark color, you will need two coats for a pure color, and possibly three ( reds, browns and deep blues usually take 3 coats to get it to look even). I know this sounds like a pain, but trust me, the color will be even and pure.

• if a room will need more than one gallon, and less than 5 gallons (the two sizes most brands are available) buy a larger bucket with a lid and mix the paint to avoid any dye lot issues ( color differences)- you do not want to get to the fourth wall, open a new can of paint and realize that the color is off by a hair -

• if you get tired of painting and have not finished the room, be sure to end in a corner. You should cover the paint tray in plastic - a white garbage bag will work - push the plastic down into the tray, over the roller, so that it touches and cannot dry out. Be sure to wrap the plastic bag around the tray so that no air can get in. It is best to use this when you plan to return to work within a few hours. If you will not get back to it for days, then it is best to clean up the tray and roller to use fresh another day. Be sure to close the paint can tightly so no air can get in and oxidize the paint, this will result in a slight change of color. A paint brush used for trimming out the room should be cleaned when you are done, unless it will be a short time (an hour or less) that you will return to paint with that brush again.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful!

Flat finish painting is a typical look used for classic and traditional decor. When paired with white moldings, this can be a very upscale and elegant finish. Great for Georgian homes, country classic, and colonial styles. Straight painting, or flat painting can also be used in a contemporary genre and many other styles of furnishing.

It is all about the colors you choose and the furnishings in the room!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Open Canvas - Painting styles

There are so many ways to paint a room. Some people like to use rollers, which come in different sizes, professional painters have the tools to spray the walls with color - I am not really talking about the tools you would use, but the styles of painting.

When I think about painting a room there are two basic ideas or styles:
1. flat finish paint - (not to be confused with the base of paint; flat, eggshell, semi gloss, etc) I am talking about flat painting; applying paint in a single color to the wall. You can use a different color on an accent wall, but pretty much this is the use of one color on a wall.

2. faux finish painting- applying paint in more than one color to the wall. You can use two or more colors, sometimes mixed with glaze, to give a dimensional appearance. This is where understanding tints and shades will really come in handy.

Within the category of faux finishing there are so many finishes or decorative ways to apply paint to your walls.

Here are few faux finishes that you may be familiar with:

• sponging
• ragging on
• ragging off
• cellophane
• tissue finish
• venetian plaster ( one of my favorites, but the hardest and most time consuming to do)
• glazing
• stippling
• striping
• marbleizing

...the list goes on and on.

Within all these techniques, there are the various tools you can use and styles each painter has that can make each type of finish look so different. Tools, as mentioned above, can be extreme and expensive like the "professional" tools sold in stores, OR the make shift tools that you find in your home. Sometimes the best tools are the ones you have in your house. You do not need to spend a lot of money on tools to get a professional faux finished look, only to learn a few shortcuts and rules to apply when doing it yourself. I will cover tools I have found helpful for finishes in another entry, as this could be a tangent that would be hard to return from!

How do I know what colors look best in my house? What color should I put in the dining room, or the living room? Should I use flat painting or faux finish?

Each style of painting whether you choose to give your room a flat finish or a faux finish, can work in many different environments, with many different decors. Some work better than others - for example, when using a chair rail, you can mix the two styles; flat finish painting on the top section with faux finish on the bottom portion of the wall is a great compromise when you can't decide what to do. This is a good look for a French Country decor in particular. It can also work with other styles of decorating. With the right color combinations, this can be applied to almost any style.

The questions that seem to come up most often are how do I know which I will like, what would look best in the room?

SPECIAL TIP: I suggest you use the experiments ( one for learning about tints and one for understanding pure colors) that I have posted in past entries for color choices. By painting a board in the colors you like and placing them in the room, you will get a better feel for what looks best. Look at these sample boards at all different times of the day, so you can see how the colors will look with the different lighting in the room; morning light, daylight or at night when the lamps are on.

Which you choose to use is all about the feeling you want to get in the room you are decorating.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dawn's Favorite Dozen

I have been asked to choose my favorite paint colors, and as I pondered the answer, I found myself going thru my fan deck of paint colors. As I picked one of my favorites, there was another right behind it, and another - how can you pick only a few and leave the rest out? Well, here is a list of my all time favorites - some colors that I find I use time and time again, have recommended for clients and just love! Some speak to their ability to go with anything, as a neutral. Others make me feel warm and add a touch of color without being too dark or light.

One of the many things to remember is that it is important when choosing a color for your room that you consider the lighting in the room, the adjacent room colors, the furnishings in the room and most importantly, how that color makes you feel!

Here is the list I came up with ( all chosen from my Benjamin Moore Color Preview fan deck):

Roxbury Caramel - HC-42 - a warm caramel color, just as it sounds - with the right lighting, this color can be just great - I used this in a Home Textiles showroom, and even with all the various colors of the bedding, it works with all of them!

Abbington Putty - HC-99- a soft green, with an olive cast. Dark enough to make a difference, but not too dark for those faint of heart when it comes to adding color to the room.

Desert Tan - 2153-50 - a true gold - great with burgundy, greens, navy - if you have dark furnishings ( carpets, sofa, decorative accessories) this color will act as a neutral and warm up the space without taking away from the existing colors

Putnam Ivory - HC-39 - this is the color I think of when someone says they want their walls to be "khaki" like the color of the menswear pants that most every man in America owns!

Carrington Beige- HC-93 - this too can be called khaki, or light tan - this is good when Putnam is a touch too yellow- Carrington has a touch of green in it.

Beacon Grey - 2128-60 - this is a blue, with grey undertones - a cool color without being too strong

Mellowed Ivory - 2149-50 - not an ivory or cream color at all! This is a soft mellow shade of green, with hints of lime - a mellow green with a touch of yellow - soft and easy on the eyes.

Muslin - OC-5 - a soft , soft tan. This is a great color for someone who is used to white, but ready to make the commitment to color, but not too much color.

Newburyport Blue - HC- 155 - I love this color, it is deep, dark and makes a statement - a great accent wall - love it mixed with any of the khaki colors mentioned above, or with the next color...

Huntington Beige - HC-21 - a medium toned tan - warm yet neutral - this is also a great color for the main room with an accent wall as mentioned above or with a deep burgundy...

New London Burgundy - HC -61 - a deep, rich burgundy, like your favorite Merlot. Not a color I have used often, as many people are afraid of going this dark - I can tell you, most of the time, this will take three coats to get the color perfect.

Hot Apple Spice - 2005-20 - another rich red, more of a brick tone. A good alternative to a burgundy if you like deep rich colors that lean on the side of nature.

Simply White - OC-117 - a great trim color for doors, door frames, crown, chair-rail and base moldings. A true white without being a hospital white - but then again;
white is a state of mind!

So that is it, my favorite dozen - I apologize to all of the colors that did not make this list - after all, it took me forever to narrow it down, so many colors to choose from! So to the reader who asks "how do I choose the right color?" I would say take a paint fan deck, and sit in the room you are considering, spread the deck out, with all the items from the room right there in front of you and choose the one that best compliments them, the one that feels right!
After all, it is only paint!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A New Coat for your Room - Paint!

I feel painting a room is the best way to give a room a new look, a facelift, or "room lift" . It is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and spend some time doing it yourself. You do not even need to change the furniture, accessories or items in a room to make it look new - just choose an accent color and paint it on the walls!
Many people are usually afraid of using colors when painting walls... my brother is one of those people - afraid of the commitment to a color, that it won't look as good in their home as it did in the store or at a friend's home (or maybe just afraid that he'd have to repaint it again). Most people like to play it 'safe' with some form of white or a color that is "hardly a color"... but then they go to a family member's or a neighbor's house, where a 'real color' was used, and they think "wow! that looks great!".

I like to make comparisons with home decorating and how your dress. Think about apparel and use your experiences with how you might spruce up an outfit for a special occasion when thinking about adding color to a room. A bright scarf, (or tie if you are a man) or an outstanding piece of jewelry would accent your outfit - a pop of gold, red or green. The same goes for a room - if you love a color that does not exist in your home accessories, but always wanted it in your room, determine the right shade for your walls and buy a home accessory, like a picture frame, or silk flower arrangement to pop the color - Like buying a new coat; bright red or yellow, when you always have owned black!

Don't be afraid, it's only paint, take the time to try it!

SPECIAL TIP: when re-doing a room by changing the color of the walls, It is best to start fresh, and that would bring us back to WHITE. No matter what color the walls are when you are making this change, you will get the most pure color when you base coat your walls with white.

Here is an experiment you can try:

1. take a foam core board (you can buy this at a local art or craft store) , or a piece of white sheet rock (available in your home construction or hardware store)
2. paint it the existing color in the room, say it is gold, or blue
3. paint a second piece with white.
4. when both are dry, paint the new room color you have chosen on both boards

– the one painted on the white board will be truer to the color on the paint chip from the store than the one painted over the existing room color.

If you are one of those people that need to visually see the color on the wall, take a trip over to Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen or Restoration Hardware. These retailers use paint colors in each section or room display of their store and have labels that identify the color on the walls. This can be very helpful when looking at small chips seems too tedious and difficult to picture in your home. If this still doesn't work for you, purchase the sample paints ( Benjamin Moore's samples cover a 2' x 2' area) or a quart of the color you like and try it in your room.

The important thing is to have fun and find a color that speaks to you, to the feeling you want when you spend time in that room.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Technical Aspect of Color

Technical people are well aware of these terms, as are graphics and industry print houses. Many of us are not exposed to this information, but may know all this without realizing we know it, just from owning everyday items such as ink jet color printers, or digital cameras. It is always nice to learn that you know more than you thought!

A tid-bit of more information than you need, but interesting none-the- less:

In photography they call the main colors on the color wheel RGB; red, green and blue. When you take a digital photo and bring it in to be printed, this may be the format that the camera used to digitize the image. There is another format called CMYK which in essence is the same thing, only different. A lesson for another day, but in summary, it is Cyan ( which is blue) Magenta ( which is a form of red) Yellow and Black. Many desktop ink jet printers we own in our homes have this type of color ink cartridge, so you may be familiar with the terminology.

Not terribly important information, but I wanted to give you an idea of how this is information you know, but in different terms.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Temperature of Colors

As you can tell from my entries, I feel strongly about colors evoking emotions. All colors can be rated, or looked at as temperatures.

Cool colors have a calming affect on us. You often see these colors used in spas and medical offices. I know when I go into a spa and the rooms are painted in a soft "spa" blue and aqua (in the palest of tints), I feel relaxed, and feel I can take a deep breath. This reminds me of vacationing in the islands, when the water is so blue and clear and the sand is so soft!
Warm colors are passionate, and can make a powerful statement in a room. Warm colors are often seen in restaurants and coffee houses. Many restaurants want you to feel cozy in their facility, so they do this by adding warm colors to heat up the atmosphere. I think of great Italian restaurants with homemade tastes, and smells of fresh tomato sauces. This gives me a welcoming feeling. Warm colors can be very inviting.

This will help understand the value of colors ( look back at the color wheel graphic for an easy view) :
- Reds - warm color
- Oranges - warm color
- Yellows - warm color
- Browns - warm color
- Blues - cool color
- Violets ( also called Purple) - cool color
- Greens - cool color

Look at this information in another way, how colors are in your life; as a woman with makeup or clothing, or a man with a tie, or a sport shirt. Many industries are reliant on color. Here is an everyday item that is a good example; cosmetic companies want you to feel good about yourself. Red lipstick or nailpolish makes you feel sexy. Cosmetics make use of so many colors; in eye shadows, blushes, liners, nail polishes, and lipsticks to name a few. People identify with color to make them feel warm, to lighten or brighten, or to soothe or cool them.

Color engages you – in your wardrobe, in the colors you choose to wear as your makeup, your hair, even the color of your car, the flowers you plant inside or outside your home.
- color surrounds us!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Choosing the right color scheme for you!

Color schemes are applied when picking paints,fabrics, and furnishings for your home, and in so many everyday things. For example, how you choose to coordinate your clothing, ( a shirt with a tie, a skirt with a blouse) your eye shadow colors, even when cooking, adding that touch of green or orange to the plate for a more palatable entreƩ. Then in your home, coordinating carpet, fabrics and wall colors! You are all scheming when doing these everyday things.

When I work with clients on a one room project, I like to set a color scheme for the room, placing the colors of the existing furniture and rugs from that room on a palette. You can do this by taping or glueing paint chips (from the paint store) on a paper. Then add colors that accent what is existing in that room, until you find the right combination. When looking at trying to give the entire house a fresh look, paint is the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this. This same exercise works; take colors from each room on one palette and look at how they work together to be sure they have a harmonious feeling; no clashing colors. This is one way to come up with a feeling of continuity in your home, where one room can flow into the other.

As you know, I like Ben Moore paints, and they as a company have taken a step to making it easier to choose paint colors for your home. Their web site is a great source, plus they partnered with Pottery Barn to create a palette that works best with the fabrics and lifestyle themes that are offered in their collection. Pottery Barn makes note of these colors in their catalog and you can even order a mini paint deck for color reference. Ethan Allen showrooms also make reference in their vignettes to the Benjanim Moore color that their designer chose to best coordinate with the fabrics and furniture selection in each display. It is usually posted on the wall at the entrance to the display room. The nice thing about this is when you are browsing these locations, you can see how paint colors look on a wall, in a large scale ( as opposed to the tiny paint chips that you get at the store), and it helps you 'picture' how it can look in your home.

There are many thoughts on color – what color to use? Will a dark color make a room warmer? Will it make the room look smaller? There are no wrong answers here (ok, maybe there are some wrong answers... ) , but there are so many schools of thought – don't be afraid to try a color on a wall. If you fear it will be too strong, pick one accent wall to use the 'scary color', and use a softer tone ( as you learned from an earlier post, a tint of that color - for a monochromatic effect) of that same color on the other walls, to coordinate with it. You may just surprise yourself!