Our Process: Paint Selection

As this blog (and website) are brand new, over the next month or so, we'll be introducing new features series. Today we are posting the first of our "OUR PROCESS:..." series. Where we'll take a closer look at some of the designer strategies we employ.

The first in our "OUR PROCESS" series will be a closer look at how we choose wall colors. Paint selection is one of (if not the) most intimidating aspects of interior design decision making for most people - even professionals. 

So don't feel bad if you're challenged by picking paint colors. We promise you...you're not alone!

Like most things, experience will eventually build confidence, but so will a few tricks of the trade! To illustrate the tricks we recommend and our process, we'll use an upcoming bedroom project as an example.

We use a 6 step process when determining a paint color. 

STEP ONE: Inspiration

For this project, a dramatic bedroom re-do, we were inspired by very dark (near charcoal or black) navy blue hues. So we took to Pinterest and some of our favorite design magazines and sought out inspiration.

STEP TWO: Collect swatches

We use a Sherwin Williams swatch deck when working at our office and we've developed a nice relationship with SW, generally using their paint swatches as at least our starting point. After collecting inspiration images, we now have an idea of the colors to cull. So we will pull up swatches in the navy, charcoal and black ranges and see what we like from there.

STEP THREE: Narrow down then view swatches in different lighting conditions.

Now this is the step that best illustrates WHY paint selection is so so difficult. We'll explain below, but first let's look at our narrowed down selection. We first narrowed it down to 5 and applied those swatches (larger versions selected from the SW store) to the very walls we were going to paint. From there we spent some time with each one and held them in various lighting conditions, compared them to one another and applied them to different walls etc..

The photo directly above best illustrates the problem. While holding the SW 9178 In the Navy swatch (shown on the left) the sun came out. Now look at the same swatch being held in the same position only seconds after the first image was taken. The sun illuminates the top portion thus totally changing the type of blue that we see. The shadow cast on the bottom portion of the swatch has created yet an entirely new shade of blue. So this one swatch, depending the light, yielded 3 unique shades of blue.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL PEOPLE!!!! See what we mean! 

STEP FOUR: Look up your final options on the internet for images of it in use

So, we've narrowed it down to INKWELL, IN THE NAVY and ANCHORS AWAY, let's see what we find online...

It's tough still because we don't really know what these colors will look like in our space, but these application images (all sourced on Pinterest) help to understand the color itself better. Is it a real blue blue or blue green or blue grey etc..

They are all beautiful in their own right but one may read more traditional or more dramatic to you. Which leads us to the final steps:

STEP FIVE: Make your selection

Trust your instincts here. You've employed a thoughtful process of elimination, you've looked closer at your top choices and generally speaking, each color creates it's own "feel" (if you will!). We think twice about the "feel" we are going for and we trust our gut and make a final choice. For this project we're going with inkwell. We wanted something near black or charcoal but still decidedly blue and we wanted a cool but dramatic vibe, not so traditional in "feel". We're pretty excited about this choice!

If you're still really unsure, buy a small size, like a quart or if offered, 1/2 qt. of a couple options and get them on the wall and look at them in various lighting conditions over a 24 hr period and go from there. Or, if you're decisive like we tend to be, then trust your gut and make your selection. For a color as dark as navy you'll most likely want a matte finish to minimize imperfections in your wall and will require several coats, possibly 3 even if you've primed first.

STEP SIX: Good luck & fingers crossed!

When using a color you've never used before, you'll never know for sure until you try it. But you have employed thoughtful consideration and you should feel confident. It's only paint in the end and can always be changed.

We hope our glimpse into our process has helped! Happy painting if you're taking it on yourself, or call us if you need our help, we can do this single task for you, you know!