Choosing Home Paint Colors

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When I was getting my old house ready for sale earlier this year, I knew the number one thing I wanted to do was paint the exterior and much of the interior. The interior felt a little stale, with paint from the early 1990s; and the exterior… was pink.

I wanted to select colors that would appeal to a wide range of people and stand the test of time. The problem was that I didn’t have time or money to waste on getting the colors correct. I know I’m not the only one who has purchased paint from a swatch only to put it on your walls and realize it was a terrible mistake. The cost of that kind of mistake on the exterior of the house in particular would have been really high.

To help make things easier, I called in my friend Liz Toombs C.I.D., Owner of Polkadots & Rosebuds Interiors. I threw a lot at her:

  • I couldn’t change all the colors of the walls or countertops, for example, so the colors had to somewhat mesh with them.
  • I didn’t want to go too many shades of variation from what was existing on the interior because that meant more coats and more money.
  • There are very few stucco homes in Kentucky, so my point of reference as to an exterior color was based entirely on Pinterest. I had no clue what to do here.
  • I wanted the exterior color to coordinate well with the roof color (Oakridge shingles – Estate Gray)

I’ll be honest – I pushed back on her selections on paper. I was triple guessing every decision behind this renovation and paint is so easy to mess up. She was patient with me though, and explained her reasoning. She sent mockups of two options for the exterior – a gray version and a beige version – which were really helpful. She also ordered a lot of letter paper size samples of all the colors that I could tape around the inside of the house to see how they looked in different light. In the end, I went with her recommendations and admit she was 100% correct and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

For the painting, I used CertaPro of Lexington for exterior and interior. I was going to try to save money on the interior and go with an individual or small team, but I was really happy with how CertaPro handled my exterior work. Others weren’t really any cheaper, when they finally decided to show up and give a quote. The CertaPro crew was always on time, responsive to all calls and requests, and came back for touch ups after I had signed off on the job. Thank you to Jean & crew, as well as owner Steve and sales associate Andrew.

Liz was kind enough to write a guest post with some tips on how to select the best paint colors for your home. See her tips below.

Liz Toombs

How to choose paint colors

Liz Toombs C.I.D.
Owner, Polkadots & Rosebuds Interiors

Painting your entire house can be a tricky process. My team and I get a lot of questions from folks trying to decide how to choose the right color. They wonder “Do I use the same color throughout the house? Should I choose a different color for each room? What about adding an accent wall?” It’s easy to get worked into a tizzy and overthink the whole process. Here are some go-to tips for choosing color for your home.

  1. Neutralize main rooms. Although gray paint colors are HUGE right now, a safer choice in terms of staying power would be a greige paint color (gray and beige combined). This marries the popularity and
    trendiness of gray with the classic and timeless qualities of beige. What a perfect combo! This color can work well in any room of the house, especially if you have an open concept floor plan where many rooms flow into one another. A great go-to greige is Amazing Gray from Sherwin Williams (aptly named!).
    Other favorite go-to neutrals:
    Sherwin Williams Buckram Binding
    Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray (just a shade lighter than Amazing Gray)
    Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
  2. Create areas of impact. When every room is a different color, it can make your house look like a Crayola box, and nobody likes that. Instead, choose areas of impact, such as your powder bathroom, or the
    bedrooms to change up the wall color and do something bold. If your kitchen is separated from the rest of the main living space, that is a great opportunity to choose a different paint color, as well. Navy is one of our most requested wall colors for bedrooms and powder baths. People love the richness it brings to a space.
  3. Avoid accent walls. Accent walls draw attention to a specific wall in the room. This can create a tunnel effect or make the room feel smaller. Instead create accents of color through throw pillows, artwork, area rugs, or window treatments. You’ll be much happier with the end result!

I’m biased because she has worked on my house, but I have to say that Liz is spot on with her tips.

Here are some of the final results:

Photo by Shaun Ring
Exterior Walls: Sherwin-Williams Dovetail 7018
Trim: Sherwin-Williams Alabaster 513-3
Handrails and door: Sherwin-Williams Tricorn Black 6258

To make the room feel lighter and larger without putting in new countertops or appliances, or painting the walls, I had CertaPro Painters of Lexington paint the cabinets a color to match the glass cases to the left of the refrigerator – those are IKEA Billy Bookcases!

For the master bathroom, again I was selling it so I didn’t have budget to update the sinks or countertops. Plus, those sorts of things can be subjective to buyers who might rip it out and change it again. So for this room, I had CertaPro paint the cabinets with Porter Paints Volcanic Ash 555-6, which is the color my master bedroom walls were. The wall color was already existing, and it’s Porter Paints Tinsel 555-3. I also changed out the vanity lights (tutorial here), changed out the electrical plates and light switches that had been painted over back in the early 90s, and changed the faucets and cabinet hardware to nickel.

Photo by Shaun Ring

This guest bathroom redo was a last minute decision before the house was listed. I don’t have a “real” before – there was wallpaper up (pink and white), brass sinks, the same globe strip fixtures that were in the master bathroom above, and original wood cabinets. Several months ago before listing the house, the wallpaper was removed and the walls were painted in Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige 7036. Liz selected a complimentary color, Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray 7044.

Photo by Shaun Ring

For the main area of the house, I went with Sherwin-Williams Worldly Gray 7043. At Liz’s advice, I took it all the way up on the ceiling. Since the upstairs hallway, foyer, living, and dining rooms are all visible in the open space, having the single color gave the space continuity. For the trim, I had the painters just match what was existing to minimize the coats required. They still ended up with 2 coats, but to take it to a pure white probably would have doubled that. I don’t have any great “before” photos of this room, but the built in cabinets on each side were also painted in the trim color.

Photo by Shaun Ring

And with this, I’m now off to move into my new home in a couple of days. I’m in a packing tizzy, so it’s a little fun to take a break to look back at all this progress!

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