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How NOT to Choose Paint Colours (But Everybody Does It) – Maria Killam –


How NOT to Choose Paint Colours (But Everybody Does It)

This post is also an Ask Maria question. So here it is:

I have painted my family room with BM Clay Beige except the focal fireplace wall which I selected SW Exclusive Plum (6263). I am happy with those colors.

I personally like colors that make you feel lifted, happy, and free, especially with punch of a nice color(s) here and there. So, this new trend that is coming sounds so great for me!! I like BM color of 2014 selections (below)! Though I do not have enough deep blue to associate in my house. . .

I originally wanted to have very simple neutral wall color and have red accents through foyer and family room (as my front door is red: SW 6054 Canyon clay). I still like that idea but i also liked BM foyer idea pictures (attached) as it is not so typical foyer and that is what I went after.

The colors on the wall are: SW 6148 Wool Skein (foyer, as you enter, and upstairs hallway/catwalk), SW 7644 Gateway Gray (hallway to the family room, and to the garage) with two accent niches with SW 6277 Special Gray (to tie with family room fireplace wall accent), and SW 0031 Dutch Tile Blue. (thought brown, green, blue would make it like earth, trees, and sky though blue got too dark and not so airy for sky )

I like: How Wool Skein looks against front door when it is left open, and how it looks against wood trim. I like how Dutch tile blue looks against dark wood. My husband and two daughters loves gateway gray. I like the colors through family room to the hallway wall, Exclusive plum, Clay beige and Gateway Gray.

The problem is that I am not happy with as whole. Wool skein does not go nice with clay beige where the color meets upstairs at the catwalk. I am not sure about this color The biggest problem is the blue . It is not right blue. I think I should pick two colors; one color for foyer and hall way on the first floor, and one color on the stair wall. ( but then which color do you recommend for the catwalk/hall way on the second floor where you can see from foyer and family room?)

I do not have to stick with any of those colors, though less to change is easier I could even use Gateway Gray for the office (off of Foyer), or guestroom (off of Family room, which might be a good idea Yes??)

This is a great question because you are not alone in this dilemma. Here s why your colours are bugging you right now.

It doesn t matter how many times I have said it here on this blog, here, here and here. It still doesn t land for so many people because you move into a new house, look around at your blank walls and think that s the place where you should start when choosing a colour scheme.

Especially if you re not a decorator so it might not occur to you that your living room needs to be decorated first. We all have our talents right? I can t do what you can do but I can definitely help you chose a starting point that will then immediately provide you with a colour scheme that is more than just beige or grey.

Okay, so back to choosing colours. Our walls are either covered in the previous homeowners choices or they are blank, waiting for our personality. So we start looking at paint colours and trying to figure out which colour/s work the best.

And here is where the problem starts. Paint stores sell PAINT not fabric or furniture so when the consumer arrives at a paint store they get a brochure with colour palettes that have been chosen to give you Inspiration .

If a colour consultant wants to get colour training, there are many courses to be found that teach you how to choose colours schemes that look good together just by spinning the colour wheel.

This does not help you learn how to choose colour in a real house with existing fixed elements that are for the most part wrong in so many cases, not unlike the finishes this homeowner has inherited.

First, let s dissect this random colour palette, chosen by the paint company.

The reason my reader is not at all happy about the blue is because dark greyed blues like this generally start to feel like a mans den or a teenage boys room.

The yellow beige is well, beige. No one is painting their walls beige right now unless they have an earthier palette.

I can count on one hand how many times I have specified a beige this year for a client. And if I selected beige it s because it coordinated with existing fixed elements, certainly not for a main neutral in an empty house.

The trend right now is Fresh and nothing about these colours says Fresh .

My reader also clearly said I personally like colors that make you feel lifted, happy, and free , the colours in the Benjamin Moore foyer are anything but.

She also reported how her family members felt about the colours they had painted so far in her house and she was very specific in outlining her preferences and feelings about the existing colours as well.

The reason why she did that is because the colours don t relate to anything. That s when we criticize colour the most.

The reason why we re covering our walls in shades of pale warm or cool greys is because we re now decorating with colours that were formally found in children s rooms.

Grey is the perfect backdrop in furniture or walls for all these bright and happy colours.

The green in the paint store brochure is muted and earthy as well. This works if you have existing furniture you need to work around but if you are starting with nothing, this colour palette is not it.

Here s a living room with a dark blue/green behind a charcoal sofa. If you like this room it s because it s heavily styled. Take away everything except the sofa and the wall colour, and you would not give this interior a second glance.

The problem with choosing random colours first, is now you have to run around trying to match a $50 gallon of paint to furniture, accessories, carpets.

Way easier to decorate first and then coordinate your paint colours.

If you decided to paint your house first, using inspiration colours off a brochure, you d now be extremely limited with your choices and would probably have to go custom because it would be much harder to shop off-the-shelf.

I went looking for throw pillows from Etsy to see what I could find to go with this random palette, and here s what I came up with:

This patterned pillow on the right, was the closest that I could find to your palette and even then you can see that the blue in the pillow is not exactly right. The reason these colours are hard to find is because they are technically considered, dated right now.

And the colours are very muted and dull, not the look and feel you are after.

So here s my best advice. Stop painting your walls which will narrow your choices further and further and focus on decorating your great room instead. Then once you have a palette chosen, you can paint the rest of your house.

Regarding your question about SW Wool Skein and BM Clay Beige, they are too close to work together in the same space. Choose the one you like the best and paint over the second neutral.

I would also consider replacing your existing sage green furniture. Much better to start fresh since your great room is basically empty except for your sofas. A new house is the perfect excuse to start new and fresh. Keeping your existing sofas will boss around your entire colour scheme and again, not give you the lifted, happy and free feeling that you re craving!

Do you have furniture that s bossing you around?

If you have a question for my Ask Maria series, take a picture in good natural light and without flash and send it to [email protected]

If you would like help creating a palette for your home, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.


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