Picking the perfect paint

Washington PostMay 9, 2014 

  • Finding the

    right white

    Christian Zapatka is a Washington architect who specializes in design work that incorporates both architecture and interiors. He has a lot of experience choosing white paints. Here are some of his favorites:

    • For walls and trim in modern homes, try Benjamin Moore’s Super White.

    • For trim in traditional homes, try Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.

    • For walls in traditional homes, try Benjamin Moore’s China White.

    • For a house where all rooms are painted white, try Farrow & Ball’s Strong White.

    • For bookcases and cabinetry: Farrow & Ball’s All White.

    Washington Post

  • Don’t paint yourself into a corner

    Barbara Richardson, color marketing manager for Glidden Paint, helps consumers choose and apply paint wisely. Here are her tips on how to avoid stress while painting:

    • Pour paint into a smaller container. It’s more practical to carry around the paint you need in something smaller and lighter than an unwieldy gallon can. You can use a container you have on hand or buy a small container with a handle at many paint stores. This is particularly helpful when working on a ladder.

    • Carry a wet cloth. If you drop paint on something, you can quickly wipe it off without having to stop and gather cleaning materials.

    • Wear an apron. A canvas painting apron or a durable cook’s apron with pockets provides storage for all the things you’ll want to have around you: an extra paintbrush, your phone or that little wet cloth for spills. Over time, the apron becomes a sort of color library of your home, because splashes of paint from each project will inevitably end up on it.

    • Use good brushes. If you buy an inexpensive brush, you’ll be annoyed at how much time you’ll have to spend picking bristles out of your paint job. Wooster brushes are often used by pros.

    • Consider painting trim and ceiling the same color as your walls. If you choose a neutral color for a main room of the house, painting the trim and ceiling the same color can create a unified look. This is especially helpful if you are going for a more modern or contemporary feel. Unifying everything eliminates worry about the lines.

If you’re putting your house on the market this spring, chances are you’ll be painting a room or two.

Realtors, of course, advise you to go neutral when selling your home. You’ll find advice here on colors that will work well. Planning on staying put? Read on for advice on how to pick the perfect hue.

Factors to consider

Zoe Kyriacos is an architectural color consultant. She advises clients of her Takoma Park, Md., firm, Colors by Zoe, on paint colors for interiors and exteriors. Here are some of her pointers:

• Consider the existing items in your room. Flooring, rugs, artwork and upholstery will suggest a color direction. Try to pull together these elements in your color choice. If your home is not furnished, make the paint color the last thing you choose; there are thousands of colors to choose from but maybe only one rug that you really love.

• Take your paint samples home. Colors you select in the Home Depot aisle will look different under the lighting conditions in your home.

• Don’t examine a paint sample against a white wall. Color is affected by what surrounds it, and putting a sample on a white wall will cause it to appear darker than it really is. This results in many people making a choice that is too light. Put the paint sample against a sofa, wood furniture or flooring for a better perspective.

• Take into account how color flows from room to room. If you have a modern house with an open floor plan, it’s important to use one wall color throughout the main floor. Add accent colors in a few carefully considered areas.

• Stick with white trim in most cases. Try several whites before you make a final selection. Benjamin Moore’s Simply White works well with cooler shades such as blue, gray, purple and pink. Warmer wall colors, such as yellow or green, call for a softer white, such as Benjamin Moore’s Mayonnaise.

Room colors

Washington designer Elizabeth Hague has been known for her calm and classic interiors. She shared her go-to paint colors for five different rooms and the reasons why she likes them.

Living room: Benjamin Moore Soft Chamois. This pleasant clay color is a neutral backdrop for textiles, furniture and accents.

Dining room: Farrow & Ball Cornforth White. This dark, warm gray has a lot of pigment in it, which makes it rich and beautiful in candlelight.

Kitchen: Farrow & Ball Blackened. This chalky pale blue serves as a nice contrast to natural stone countertops, cabinets and polished-nickel fixtures.

Bedroom: Pratt & Lambert Smoke Ring. Choose a beautiful color to wake up in, such as this periwinkle blue-gray. It’s the color of sky on a clear day.

Bath: Pratt & Lambert Full Moon. To go with natural stone flooring and countertops and polished nickel fixtures, choose a shade with warm gray-green tones, such as this off-white.

The right white

Christian Zapatka is a Washington architect who specializes in design work that incorporates both architecture and interiors. He has a lot of experience choosing white paints. Here are some of his favorites.

• Walls in traditional homes: Benjamin Moore China White. This white has a soft, warm tone, with a faint “greige” (a word used for unbleached, undyed cloth) background.

• Trim in traditional homes: Benjamin Moore White Dove. Ideal for all types of woodwork, this shade is compatible with almost any wall color. It has a clean white quality while keeping a warm tone.

• Walls and trim in modern homes: Benjamin Moore Super White. For a flawless look with no trace of yellow or gray, this is it. It’s as pure white as you can get, so it’s the best choice for a modern interior.

• For a house where all rooms are painted white: Farrow & Ball’s Strong White. This is a warm white without any yellow cast, which makes it great as a totally neutral background.

• Bookcases and cabinetry: Farrow & Ball’s All White. Bookcases and built-ins look great when painted this crisp, bright white. It sets off the wall color around it.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service