Home & Garden

Using paint to freshen up your home for spring

Color cabinets mixed with natural wood counter tops create a warm and inviting space. The cabinets paint color is Maid of the Mist.
Color cabinets mixed with natural wood counter tops create a warm and inviting space. The cabinets paint color is Maid of the Mist. BENJAMIN MOORE

Spring is the time of the year when many of us start to think about freshening up our interiors. The most economical and dramatic change can be as simple as a fresh coat of paint.

I recently spent some time with Benjamin Moore color expert Ellen O’Neill to talk about trends, color personalities and tips for picking the perfect color for your home. Here’s her advice:

Don’t concern yourself with trends. O’Neill likes to consider her company’s products as backup singers to trends. The staff tracks sales, images on social media sites, domestic and foreign home furnishings shows and marketplaces. But these efforts don’t create color trends. They company’s goal is to develop a color palette that will enhance new colors and looks that are emerging.

This year’s backup singers are grounded in greens and plums. The shades of green take inspiration from a citrus grove, a pot of lemon verbena or a sprig of silver sage. Plum comes in shades as pale as a rose petal or as rich as black.

The colors are all inspiring and beautiful, but how do you make a choice? O’Neill recommends you take time to recognize your “color personality.” We all have one. This is the color palette that fills your closet and that you gravitate toward in decorator magazines, online sites such as Houzz and Pinterest, and in furniture stores. Knowing your color personality can save you costly mistakes when selecting paint colors.

Once you know your color preferences, try being a little more playful. Find a fresh tone or two within your comfort zone and try them. Purchase a sample bottle or a quart of that color and paint a large 2-by-2-foot sample on your wall. Live with that color for a week, taking note of how the light changes that color throughout the day. If you still enjoy the color, go for it.

If you don’t have the time or spunk to try a new color for a room, consider painting just one wall, the trim in a room, the fireplace mantel or a wood accent chair. On the exterior, add a new color to your shutters, front door, window boxes or a trellis. The new color will give your home a fresh look and speak volumes about who lives beyond the front door.

What colors does a color expert use in her own home? O’Neill, just like me, tends to live in white rooms with surprises such as deep red library walls or a black office. But don’t think we are copping out by painting our walls white. Choosing the perfect shade of white is one of the toughest color selections you can make. Perhaps that’s why a paint company might have more than 150 to choose from.

Vicki Payne is the Charlotte-based host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in syndication. Reach her at foryourhome.com.