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FAQs About Color and Paint

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Be specific about your color scheme

Maybe you love color. However, when it comes to choosing a shade of paint your confidence goes right out the window.

Relax and read on. These FAQs on color and paint, plus the links to great information, will help you define your color scheme and zero in on paint, fabrics, and more.


Q. I've heard some people recommend that you pick a color, paint the room, and decorate later. Is this a good idea?

    Paint is available in thousands, if not millions, of colors. Therefore it only makes sense to decide on major room elements (furniture, fabrics, rugs) before you decide on the final shade of paint. Go ahead and collect paint chips and even narrow your preferences, but wait to buy the paint until you are sure it will go with everything else you've chosen. After all, you don't want to paint the walls a lovely sage green then find fabric for the room that includes sea green, not sage.

Q. I don't know what color paint to buy -- help!

Q. I have a nice green and gold sofa, an upholstered wing chair that is red damask, and a chrome coffee table. What color should I paint the walls so these will go together?

    People sometimes make the mistake of decorating "around" something that is beautiful in itself, but that doesn't quite work for the look they really want. So, to answer your question, you might first want to decide on the look you're trying to achieve. Then you can figure out what it will take to get it. If you don't know what look you want, spend some time looking at decorating books and shelter magazines ("House Beautiful", "Country Living", "Traditional Home", etc.), browsing through furniture stores, and being aware of window displays, hotel lobbies, store and restaurant interiors -- Not to shop, but to "try out" a variety of colors and interiors. Here's more info on how to look critically at rooms to decide what's "you" "How to Read Decorating Magazines". When you have wildly diverse pieces of furniture, the answer may be to separate the pieces into different rooms, get rid of your least favorites, consider recovering or refinishing, or to choose one as your decorating starting point.

Q. What are the "easiest" color schemes to work with?

    A color scheme is fairly simple to put together once you have an inspiration piece. This might be fabric, a rug, a painting, or even an accessory such as a vase. It should embody both the "feeling" and the colors that you will use for your room. When working from a fabric this short how-to on choosing a color scheme offers tips. Another way to choose colors is to pick one color plus white. If you love blue for example, then pair blues with lots of white for a wonderful room.

Q. How do I know which shade of paint is best from a color strip that offers 5 or 6 choices?

    Many designers recommend choosing a middle color -- one that's between the ightest and the darkest sample on the card. However, the answer to your question really depends on what you are hoping to do in the room. A very dreary north facing room might need a brighter color while a cozy den may look wonderful in the deepest shade on the card.

Q. I just decorated my new living room with an all white rug and white furniture. However it just doesn't look right.

    Sometimes an all-white look can make a room seem as if it is "floating" and ungrounded. One good solution is to add some darker, deeper items to your room. Consider an area rug with some brown or black, a few pieces of darker wood (or painted) furniture, and some darker accessories as well.

Q. I'm interested in faux painting but I don't like that sponged look that was popular a few years ago. What's new?

    Try browsing through the Faux Projects Library to get tutorials, supplies, and ideas for lots of faux projects including colorwashing, striping, spattering and more. Aged walls, glazing techniques, and suede finishes are all popular options.

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