Today I’m de-mystifying one of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they decide to decorate a space. Are you ready? Let’s jump in!
Here it is, are you ready for it?
Yes, paint. Without a doubt the number one mistake I see folks make when they are decorating their home is choosing paint colors first.
I know, I know it is SO tempting to start with paint, especially if you are moving into a new space. It gives you the biggest visual change and costs very little compared to other aspects of decor and design. Plus, you want to get those walls painted before you move in all your furniture. I get it.
But I’m here to warn you against it, no matter how tempted you are! There are two main reasons to avoid choosing paint first.
REASON #1: Matching Is Hard
It is much, much harder – like exponentially harder – to match furniture pieces and decorative objects to a paint color, than it is to find a paint color that matches said objects. Let’s say you love the color blue and you want to paint your walls a deep, rich shade of cobalt. If you paint the walls first, and then bring in bedding or curtains, chances are they are going to clash. It’s just the way it goes. The way something looks in a store is going to be different than how it looks in your own home. That’s why it’s hard to eye-ball or wing it when it comes to decor. It really helps to have an overall plan.
I like to tell people to start with something – one thing, any thing. It can be a curtain panel you love, or a beautiful bedspread, or your grandmother’s rug you want to use in your living room. Get your hands on something tangible you know you want to use in the room. Then begin to look at paint colors. I’d suggest using a color wheel to get an idea of what colors you like, then order big 5×9 swatches from your local paint store. Once you’ve narrowed it down to three or four, buy small samples (I promise this is worth it, you won’t regret it) and test them out on your wall.
Now imagine trying to do that backwards – painting the walls first, then trying to bring in all sorts of different things to match the color. Imagine trying to shop for bedding in Target and thinking “Will this go with my blue walls?” It’s much harder, if not impossible! Your fail-safe formula? Start with an object, end with the paint.
REASON #2: Light Changes Everything
And I mean every. little. thing. You may have had that cognac-colored leather sofa for years and you think you know exactly how it’s going to look in your new space. But plain and simple – you don’t. In the new light it might read much, much cooler. Move in your tan rug and suddenly, it looks downright olive. And if you’ve already painted your walls a color based on how that couch looked in your basement, well then you are SOL my friend.
The worst thing you can do is pick out a color for your walls in the paint store. You at least have to take home swatches and check them out in your lighting. What looks like white in the store could very well read pink on your basement walls. Undertones can really come out, especially if you don’t have tons of natural light in your home. Grays can look green, navies can look purple, browns can look red. And what about your floors?! Unless you have a trained (or very, very good) eye, it’s hard to look at your floors and know what undertones are there. Put a big swatch of a cool-based gray next to them and suddenly they turn red, or orange, or yellow. (This is part of a bigger discussion on color theory, which we can get into at a later date). Always ask for big swatches at your paint store and take them home to check them out in your space. Because once you get that greige that you fell in love with on Pinterest into your own home with your own lighting, chances are it’s going to look drastically different.
Remember, just because it looked beautiful on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work in your home.
Tip: Want to avoid choosing the wrong color? Consider purchasing a paint swatch wheel (usually about $20). This way you can get an idea of how different colors look in different rooms in your home!
So was this helpful? Want to see more of these kinds of tips? Let me know in the comments!