Avoid the Purple Dinosaur

After 35 years in the decorating business one of the most challenging things for clients still remains color selection. I’m going to share the dos and don’ts of successful color selection. Hopefully, if there’s one thing we can prevent here, it’s the “Purple Dinosaur” (I’ll explain this a little later).

When I’m invited into a clients home for a consultation one of the very first questions I’m asked is, “What color should I paint my house?” Surprisingly not,”How much will it cost?” (Though that question is soon to follow) but what color? That’s usually when the husband chimes in with, “I thought the white looked good” (hey guys you know who are.) And, being the highly trained professional that I am I say, “I don’t know.” If anyone comes into your home and answers that question in the first 5 minutes DO NOT hire them. At this point there’s not enough information to start making design decisions.

Here are Paintboy’s TOP 10 Secrets for selecting paint colors:

  1. Understand goals and requirements: For instance, what’s staying and what’s going? Counters, tiles, flooring etc. Is there going to be any new furniture or fabric purchases?
  2. Create a wish list: Start with a wish list and then whittle it down to short term and long term goals. Working your short term-long term goals together is key here so have a master plan for your home. If your budget or time places constraints on your project, then you’ll be able to keep an eye on the next phase. Proper transitions and flow tend to get lost without the discipline of a master plan.
  3. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF COLOR!!!  Now here’s the next stumbling block to get over. When you’re not use to seeing color after living in Beigeville the prospect of moving to a new color neighborhood can make you nervous. Don’t be, color is good!”
  4. Look for a color influence: It could come from a rug, fabric, flooring or maybe even an inspiration from something outside. If your house is color neutral allowing you to go in any direction, go shopping and see what the latest colors are being shown in towels, drapes, or comforters. You don’t have to buy anything to get inspired.
  5. DO NOT RUSH COLOR: Though all our points are important here, none is more important than this piece of advice. Do not rush the color selection. The cost of labor and material is too expensive not to mention the inconvenience of having your house in a mess. So don’t let a designer, painter, spouse or anyone else hurry up a choice “just to get it done.”
  6. Work in long term trends: Don’t paint a room a color you love today but may grow tired of in a year. For example, if you’re doing a master suite make sure it’s something you’ll love for at least 5 or 6 years or longer if you’re going with classic design choices.
  7. Select Color Options in the Room: At this point it’s actually time to take out some paint samples, and what I’m about to say next might seem obvious but isn’t always. Start the selection process in the room you’re painting. I can’t tell you how often clients wind up looking at color charts at their kitchen table (and they’re not painting their kitchen). When you find a color direction you like, consider how light or dark your color should be. Room sizes, ceiling heights, and lighting all play a part in the process. Are the ceilings going to be the same color as the walls or a different color? Does the room get a lot of day light?
  8. Get a Sample on the Wall: After picking a color this is where the fun begins! Time to get a sample on the wall.  This step is where a classic mistake usually occurs and can really frustrate the process. Too small of a sample. Yes, start with small samples next to the floor, door frame, cabinet and move it around the room. But once you think it might be the color, I highly recommend painting an entire wall. See how the color looks during the day then again at night. What you’ll discover is the color during the day looks completely different than at night. At this point you have a decision to make, is your house being decorated for the day or the evening. Some of my favorite homes I’ve done are the evening homes. The light that comes from lamps, sconces and chandeliers can really help bring rooms and areas an entirely different look.
  9. Sheen Levels: Choosing a sheen level is almost always overlooked when pursuing the perfect color. There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. First, sheen levels can appear to change the color hue. Flats absorb more light while eggshells and semi-glosses bounce more light. Whatever your finish preference is, make sure you’re sampling in the finish you intend to paint the room in.
  10. Mix the Color in the Room: The last thing we can do in pursuing the perfect color hue is actually mix the color in the room. You read that right; I actually bring my color tints to the house and mix the color in the room for you. This allows us to perfectly tweak our room color on the fly. If it’s too dark, we can lighten it. If it’s just a hair too light, darken it. If the hue is off just so slightly, adjust it. This saves time and money while bringing the best results possible.

No, I didn’t forget, this is where I explain the “Purple Dinosaur”. If I can prevent just one person from having to carry an oversized “Purple Dinosaur” through a Home Depot or Lowe’s, I’ve done my job here. Bringing stuffed animals or anything else to a paint department to try to match a color for a room is a losing battle. What usually winds up happening here is a lot of wasted trips to the paint store, wasted money spent on sample cans of paint you’ll never use, and more often than not, a project that doesn’t get properly finished. Whether you are hiring a professional or doing the work yourself, following these color tips will definitely lead to a much more pleasurable decorating experience.

If you need any help or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at: info@paintboy.com.

Happy Painting from Paintboy!!!



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