Four Walls, Endless Colors

Four Walls, Endless Colors

Want your house to pass the eye test with flying colors and make a great impression? Whether you're seeking a higher resale value or just want to add a fresh appearance to your interiors, repainting your walls with carefully chosen colors and finishes dramatically improve the look and feel of your living space, say the pros.

"Color is subjective, and the placement of a color has much to do with personal style and how the homeowner wants the room to feel," says Andrea Magno, color and design expert with Benjamin Moore in Montvale, New Jersey. "Color trends move very gradually, with slight tweaks from year-to-year. Several years ago, we saw a lot of neutrals that had a gold undertone, but that's really shifted to the cooler side with the prevalence today of grays and cooler neutrals."

Tara Murayama, owner of Five Star Painting in Bethesda, Maryland, agrees that gray is hot nowadays.

"I often recommend a warm gray, although cool grays do very well with modern or transitional decor," Murayama says.

Ask Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Cleveland headquartered Sherwin-Williams, and she'll tell you that gray is all the rage in kitchens, too.

"Beige has taken a back seat to gray and taupe in recent years as well as creamy ivory and the ever-popular sage green up 10 years ago," Wadden says. "Blues have been enjoying some favorite status as well - from Navy to chalky - and yellow and deep and moody teal are also trending forward."

In the living room, white is popular in 2016, while darker and bolder colors like wine are preferred lately in the dining room; the family room is well suited to neutral colors that flow with colors in adjacent rooms, and bathroom hues are often guided by materials being used in the room such as the marble or tile color, says Magno.

"Green seems to be a popular bedroom color, and teal is a feel-good color that can inspire creativity in a home office," Murayama says.

Experts say ceilings, meanwhile, are best left white or off-white to reflect natural and artificial light across the room.

Wadden suggests three different approaches to selecting the right colors.

"A monochromatic color scheme involves selecting a single color and then using colors that vary in lightness and saturation to create a clean, sophisticated look," she says. "For an analogous color scheme, select a color, then for accents choose shades on the color wheel that appear on either side of that dominant color. Or, choose a dominant color and then select colors directly across on the color wheel to create contrast."

You can also draw color inspiration from a favorite fabric, artwork or rug in the room.

Additionally, follow the "golden ratio" when selecting multiple colors for a room or adjacent rooms: 60 percent should be the primary color, 30 percent secondary color and 10 percent accent color, Wadden adds.

When it comes to sheen, consider that flat hides irregularities and surface imperfections well while a glossy or semi-gloss finish creates a bold and dramatic look.

"If you're looking for something subtle and forgiving on an imperfect wall, a matte or eggshell finish is the way to go," Wadden says.

When selling your home, "stay away from khaki, beige or yellow, especially the golden Tuscan tones of the 1990s. Also, don't use multiple colors in multiple rooms, but do use eggshell for bathrooms and high-gloss on trim and molding," says Judy Mitchell, Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in Fairfield County, Connecticut, who says that a quality interior repainting can result in possibly thousands of dollars more in your sales price.

Lastly, remember that you get which pay for.

"You want to buy more expensive paint that will last longer and give more satisfactory results. A higher quality paint can get the job done in two coats," says Geoff Sharp, owner of Sharper Impressions Painting Company. "Expect to pay between $30 and $60 for a gallon of quality paint."


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