Paint Tips From The Pros

A few weeks ago, a friend from work mentioned an upcoming color class at West Elm. Intrigued (and plagued by a serious case of color fright, as evidenced by our predominantly-white walls), I figured with a price tag of $0, it couldn’t hurt to broaden my off-white horizons. So my blogger friend (Abby of Peacock Pad – check out their mid-century home and all their amazing DIY projects here) and I headed down to West Elm after work to see what all the fuss was about. The class, put on by Benjamin Moore, was packed to the gills. We snagged a few seats in the back and pulled out our phones to take ample notes on share-able tips. So, without further adieu, here are my favorite paint tips from the pros, plus a few of my own that I threw in (you know, based on a few mistakes we’ve made in our own painting mis-adventures):

1. Choose your paint last. Know what’s staying in your space, and what you plan to add. Selecting your textiles is especially important – there are a finite number of choices when it comes to fabric, but the sky is the limit when you’re choosing paint colors, especially since most folks can match just about any color. Centsational Girl has a great post on this topic!


Courtesy of Centsational Girl

2. Swatch it up, baby. It’s worth the extra time and money to try several colors on your wall. The color will look different in different parts of the room, based on shadows and its proximity to light sources. Live with your swatches for several days before you make a decision – we nixed two shades in our kitchen before we landed on the current yellow color. Although I probably should have been smart enough to guess that human skin color and poop brown wouldn’t be winners on our walls, even without painting swatches.

3. Don’t forget to view your swatch in daylight, at night, and in artificial light. We learned this the hard way – our buttery yellow kitchen walls look distinctly highlighter-ish in the evening, when artificial light is the only option.

4. Try a painted ceiling to expand the feeling of your space. To keep the room feeling airy, rock some crisp crown molding. How’s this for gorgeous?


Courtesy of Benjamin Moore


Courtesy of Your Decorating Hotline

5. For color-phobes like myself, here are 3 easy ways to incorporate a brighter shade: try a single vertical or horizontal stripe, some faux wainscotting (AKA a different shade on the bottom half of your walls – just tape and paint, no trim work necessary!), or super-trendy ombre – a gradation of 3 or more shades that give you a sense of movement.


Horizontal stripe, courtesy of Benjamin Moore


Insanely cool faux-wainscotting, courtesy of Apartment Therapy – love that they painted the door, too!


Ombre walls, courtesy of Canadian Living

6. The low-down on VOCs: if you want to keep harmful VOCs out of your paint, look for paint that uses water-borne colorants. A lot of paints claim to be low VOC, but adding the colorant can cause the amount of VOCs to seriously skyrocket.

7. Tips for choosing a paint finish: an eggshell finish for your walls will help you hide imperfections, but has just enough sheen to be scrubbable (double-check that your brand of paint can be scrubbed). Flat paint is perfect for ceilings, and for trim, doors, and cabinets, choose a super-scrubbable semi-gloss.

8. Choosing paint colors, the dummy edition. I’ll be frank: I pretty much suck at picking out paint colors. Before we landed on the beautiful sea glass shade we have in the guest bathroom, I chose a lovely jailhouse grey. Which eventually drove me to tears (and to repainting). So I adore tools that make it easier for a color-moron like myself to pick out winning combinations. Benjamin Moore has an Affinity color deck, and the value prop is that you can choose any 3 colors from the deck and they’ll work together. Presto, paint-o. They also have a Perfect Pairings color deck that already has colors paired together. Martha Stewart’s paint swatches also used to have recommended pairings listed on them, although I’m not sure if that’s still the case.


Perfect Pairings color deck, courtesy of Benjamin Moore

With a few more tips under your belt, do you feel more confident when it comes to painting? Post-class, I was feeling brash enough to throw some wild and crazy paint ideas out there in conversation with the hubby – we’ll see if I’m feeling brave when it comes to implementing these bold ideas!

Want to check out the lineup of free classes at West Elm? See it here.

*This post wasn’t sponsored by West Elm, Benjamin Moore, or any other business. Just wanted to share a few of the highlights, from one DIYer to another!

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4 Comments

Filed under DIY Tips, The Lottery House

4 responses to “Paint Tips From The Pros

  1. Lauren R.

    Thanks for the tips…love Censational Girl!

  2. I’ve loved the idea of painting ceilings and crown moldings, but the hubby does not agree. Alas, no painted ceilings or crown molding for me. Sad face.

  3. We have the same debate in our house, Jen! I think it’s related to the fact that he’s taller than me, and therefore the default ceiling painter! :)

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