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Paint Misbehavin’


Decorating media rarely agrees on much, with the exception of painting, which most tout as the panacea for all your redecorating woes. Whether they are budget woes, design fatigue woes or prepping your house for sale woes.

That said, there are a few myths articles about interior painting I’d like to shatter in hopes of making the process less stressful and confusing.

Painting is a cheap decor makeover

What? No, it’s not. Unless someone gives you the paint and the labor it is not cheap at all. Is it cheaper than buying new furnishings? Depends. When I first began pricing paint I got some serious sticker shock. Benji Moore, which has some of the best colors and is the most mistake proof paint on the market costs around $30 per GALLON. For the average sized living space in a mid range color, you’ll need at least two gallons. I don’t know about you, but sixty bucks for something I can’t eat, wear, sit on or use to contact La Mommie is a lot of cheddar. And the labor. Even if you’re a quick painter and not exactly into taping or accuracy, it still requires that you spend at least an afternoon moving furniture, prepping surfaces (what’s that?) and, well, painting. It’s very labor intensive.

If you don’t like it, you can just paint over it!

Correction. If I don’t like it, I paint over it. Most people want to like what they’ve painted, for the reasons illustrated above. Sure, you can paint over it, but the goal is to be happy with the color choice the first time. I like to paint. I don’t mind living with mistakes for a couple of weeks until I figure out what the hell I’m going to do about it. But I gather most people don’t share this perspective.

There is no such thing as “one coat” paint

Don’t waste your money or hopes. Most interior walls are painted in neutrals and if you’re gonna put any pigmented color over them (without priming) you’re gonna need two coats or else you’re gonna see the color underneath.

Primer is a must

No, it’s not. In fact, one of the only ways to actually realize the fantasy of “one coat” painting is to layer a shade over an existing shade. For example. You have some glorious turquoise color. Putting it over an existing lavender wall means a deeper color and – wait for it – ONE FREAKING COAT. My dining room turquoise is one coat. No primer. Primer is when you want to start with a blank slate, which is fine, but in a lot of cases it’s just more painting.

Now some, Snarky “Trust Me I’ve Done Legwork” painting tips and hints:

Color selection

Pick a color YOU LIKE. Seriously. If you do not like mushroom or pale greens, do not pick them. Most of my color mistakes (and there have been many) have involved picking shades that don’t reflect my likes at all. The worst being a horrible salmon/Royal Tenenbaums pink I just knew I’d love forever. Followed closely by an awful shade of lime green. Most likely any color you already enjoy is already featured in your home. And you will really notice it when you paint a wall in a similar color.

Don’t let your existing color scheme steer your towards colors you don’t like

If your furnishings are neutrals you are in the best shape. Dark brown wood is THE BEST for paintphobes and philes alike. You can do pretty much anything with them. I haven’t really found a color that doesn’t make dark wood rock the house; I’ve tried them all. So if you have espresso furniture and want those lavender walls, OMG GO FOR IT. Ditto for Tangerine, Aqua, most greens, blues and all of the yellow hues.

Forget theories about what colors work best for specific rooms

The color that works best is the one you don’t hate. So if you want a red bedroom, go for it. You want a black living room, go for it.

Start with an accent wall

Accent walls are the best for trying out a color. It takes less than three hours and often times it’s plenty of painted wall. Trying to paint an entire room is overwhelming, particularly for the timid. I started my home with an accent wall and well, y’all have seen where that lead.

Make a beeline to the “Oops” section before you start looking at colors

The only room I have painted only once was painted with an oops color – The Room of Broken Dreams. Don’t let the name scare you. The wall color and the dual windows are the only things I love about that room. The room itself is perfect, except I like my living/dining area more. Oops colors are cheap – around $5 or $7 per gallon – and are nearly always in the higher quality paints.

Stay away from vanity brands

Ralph Lauren makes lovely sportswear but the paint is expensive and awful. It is hard to work with and requires like nine coats to approximate the paint chip.

Cheap paint is actually better for deeper colors

Skimping on paint quality means overcompensating on pigmentation – in my opinion. Besides, like nail polish, it’s all about the application.

Quicker color selection leads to more satisfaction.

The longer you deliberate the more you emotionally invest in your choice, which leads to the kind of painter’s remorse that gives painting a bad name. Make your selection quickly and decisively. Trust me, you’ll be much more happy.

Eggshell is the finish of the gods
Personally, I like flat, because I like to repaint without sanding or priming, or hell, even prepping, but most people would do best with eggshell finish. Except in the bathroom, where we’d all do well to go with a semi-gloss.

Okay, this is just my take on painting. Definitely ask any questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them!


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