Learn to Love Color

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What to Do When You Get to the Store

First mistake! Choosing paint color is a two-trip process, like it or not. You can't choose color outside of the room you're considering painting any more than you can determine how a dress will fit you by looking at it on someone else. The reason there are so many paint strips is that they expect you to take a lot of them home.

On your first visit, grab lots. If you're stuck for color combos, think about your wardrobe. Chances are if a color looks good on you, it'll look great around you. Once home, place your color strips on a surface in the room you're considering painting. The next morning you'll pass by and eliminate half the colors, wondering what on earth you were thinking. What looked great in a busy store, under pressure, will look completely different in the stress-free environment of your home. After one week, by the sheer process of elimination, you'll narrow it down to the three colors you can live with -- one for the walls, one for the trim and yes, one for the ceiling.

Here's why. What every designer knows is that once you've introduced rich color to your walls, leaving the ceiling stark white will look very unfinished -- like you spread a bed sheet over it. Painting your ceiling will not make it feel lower. In fact, leaving it white could.

From your wall color strip, pick the color that's three shades lighter if your ceilings are average height. If they're very high, go only one shade lighter than the walls. This will assure that light will fall evenly throughout the entire space giving it a warm, inviting, designer look.

On your second visit to the store, stick to your guns, knowing that you've given proper time to make a good decision. When they pop off the lid to confirm your paint mix, don't panic. The color will look darker than you expected. But once it's up on the walls, it will appear at least two shades lighter -- trust me! Once home, don't judge the color choice until all references of white are out of the room. Then go to bed. The next morning, with fresh eyes, you'll love it!

Originally published on LHJ.com, December 2006.


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