HOW TO: pick a paint colour

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Paint should always be the last finish selection you make.  There are infinitely more paint options available than upholstery fabrics or rug selections.  You may want to pick a colour you like for inspiration (even better an inspiration image that encompasses an entire colour palette exemplifying the correct proportions for each colour used to create the look and feel you desire).  Once you have made all your finish selections and narrowed down your colour options you are ready to tweak your paint selection.   

Designer Tip: always get actual finish samples to use when coordinating finish selections and when shopping for furniture and accessories.   Ask your designer, supplier or contractor to provide you with finish samples for any material finish used in your interior. 

When it comes to paint you definitely get what you pay for.  Although painting prep is every bit as important, if not more important than the actual paint itself.  If your walls and trim are not properly filled and sanded a fresh coat of paint can’t make them look instantly fabulous. 

Why we like Benjamin Moore paint has as much to do with the paint as the colour system they use.  Benjamin Moore has a few different paint palettes created for specific applications, the palettes we use the most are: 

- The Historical Collection (denoted by HC before the colour number) inspired by the actual colours used in 18th and 19th century architecture. 

- The Designer Classic Collection (denoted by CC before the colour number) is a collection of wall colour selections favored by interior designers. 

Not every colour looks good or feels good on a wall, if you select your paint colour from the Designer Classics Collection not only is the guess work taken out, you will find 2’ x 2’ paint samples available for purchase.  Large paint samples are a great opportunity to try out a colour before committing to painting your walls.  The large samples go a long way in helping you visualize the impact and intensity a paint colour will impart on your interior.  Changing light conditions throughout the day and different wall locations will reflect colour with different intensity.

One last unsolicited recommendation for Benjamin Moore is the colour gradation on their paint chips.  Many of the three colour paint chips are great suggestions for guiding your wall, ceiling and trim colour selections.  Keep in mind your trim colour should be consistent throughout your home, and your entire colour palette should be harmonious.  Benjamin Moore features inspirational colour palettes, lists their most popular paint colours, and suggests painting ideas on their website to further aid your colour selections.

Don't forget to consider paint finish.  There are many different finish options available.  Often designers will use the same colour on the walls and ceiling, selecting a flat or matt finish on the ceiling and a satin or egg-shell finish for the walls.  The flat or matt finishes reflect less light and hide surface imperfections the best, but are the least durable.  Satin and egg-shell finishes are more durable and washable and thus more often used for walls.  Semi-gloss finishes are even more durable and glossy than egg-shell and satin and are formulated for use on areas where wear and tear is anticipated.  Window casings, door casings, baseboards and doors are often painted with a semi -gloss finish.  Generally the shinier the paint finish the more obvious the surface imperfections become.  The flat or increasingly matt the paint finish, the less durable and washable the paint becomes.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with selecting a colour palette or paint colour we recommend you collect inspiration images, finish samples and paint chips.  Before you take the plunge you can always have a consultation with an interior designer to show them your inspiration images, selection options and ideas.  Your designer will be able to tweak your selections, and make further suggestions and recommendations, elevating your interior designing to a new level.  We hope we have given you valuable insight in selecting paint colours, if you have further questions on the subject we urge you to post your comments.

(blog images from