So, you just picked up the keys to your brand-new place and are walking through the large empty rooms when it suddenly hits you: this place could use some color!
While painting may sound as simple as picking up a bucket of paint and roller from the local hardware store, there are several critical components you need to consider before you start.
First, if you’re renting, make sure you check with your property manager or landlord before starting. While most leases allow painting, you may be required to either paint it back with the original color or pay to have it done once your lease ends.
Rather than picking your color first, you should first come up with a plan. After all, you may not need to paint the entire room to get the color and life you’re looking for.
Try to identify the best options for accent walls to create a focal point within the room. Many modern apartments and homes already feature a prominent wall with windows or a fireplace than can be strengthened with a splash of color.
Alternatively, if you are looking to paint an entire room, make sure to consider the layout of your floor plan. Often times (and especially in apartments), rooms will naturally flow into one another – making it difficult to find a natural spot to change colors.
In this case, consider using multiple colors that can easily be seen next to one another without clashing.
Another option, if you’re looking for a quick and simple injection of personality, is to paint your walls with a clean edge of white at the ceiling and base.
This method not only creates same affect of crown molding, but is also quicker as you don’t need any special edging tools. Simply create a level line with painter’s tape 3 or 4 inches from the ceiling, then paint!
Obviously, color is the biggest decision when it comes to paint. But before you go picking out those sample color swatches, take photos of your most prominent furniture, fabrics, art, and accent pieces you own. That way, you can coordinate how the entire room will tie together.
You should also consider the overall purpose of the room you’ll be painting. Most people want their bedrooms to feel calming and relaxing by choosing cool colors such as blue and lavender, or even soft tones of pink and yellow.
Most energetic spaces, like the living room or kitchen, can easily feature more vibrant tones like orange, red, gold, or purple. To make a color truly pop, consider painting an adjoining wall or utilizing accent pieces of the complimentary color. Colors opposite on the color wheel stand out most when adjacent to one another – making a strong statement.
Once you have your color picked out, you’ll need to consider the sheen of paint that best matches the room and your lighting.
High-Gloss: Highly durable, reflects light, and is easiest to clean. Ideal for kitchens, high-traffic areas, and kid’s rooms. May highlight imperfections of the wall.
Semi-Gloss: Still easy to clean, typically cheaper than High-Gloss, and doesn’t show as many wall imperfections.
Eggshell/Satin: Most popular. Hides most imperfections and easy to clean. Considered to be the best balance and most flexible finish.
Flat/Matte: Most forgiving to imperfections. Less durable than other sheens and requires careful cleaning to avoid patchiness.
Finally, when you’ve settled on a plan and you head to the hardware store, you’re bound to come across various brands and paint types, including Latex, Oil, and Water-based.
Oil-based paints are very durable and will last longer to wear and tear, but feature a longer drying time, strong odors, and require mineral spirts like paint thinner in order to clean up spills. The best use of oil-based paints is for doors, trims, cabinets, or as a primer, as it should hide all subsequent paint layers well.
Latex is the most common type of paint these days – and with good reason. Mostly acrylic based, these paints are extremely versatile. Easy to clean up (all you need is water) and adhere easily to plaster, drywall, wood, cement, stucco, and more.
Our last piece of advice can really be applied beyond simply painting your living room:
Not sure whether your kitchen should be a relaxing robin’s egg blue or a bold yellow? Pick up a small quart of each and see which you like most!
One of the most exciting things about moving into a new place is the ability to start fresh, create a space designed specifically for you, and exploring new things. Happy painting!