Picking paint colours
A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of my dining room, all set for Christmas dinner. In the comments section of that post, loyal reader Maggie asked about the paint colours in the room. She brought to mind something that I’ve been meaning to share with you for a while: How we went about choosing paint colours for our house. I’m often getting e-mails from readers who are seeking advice on what colour to paint their cottages. I know from my recent painting adventures (the first thing we did to our new house was paint every inch of the interior) is that picking a colour and tone is much harder than it first appears.
When we bought our place, the walls were painted a very lacklustre shade of yellow that provided little drama and did nothing to highlight any of the home’s architectural features. I knew that I wanted to bring out the mouldings, which are wide and mostly original, but I was nervous about doing anything too daring lest it look too dark. So I thought I’d just paint all the trim white, and then choose a colour for the walls from there. Rude awakening for me when I hit the paint store: Picking a shade of white is like picking the best sunset of the summer. That is to say, nearly impossible. There are so many shades of white—fan decks full—to choose from, and each one is appropriate for something. Problem for me is that I hadn’t a clue which shade was appropriate for our place.
My solution was to call in an expert. Like many of you cottagers out there, I was a touch DIY proud when it came to fixing up the new digs, and I had hoped to do it all myself. But painting this place would be neither cheap nor fast, and the last thing I wanted was to invest time and money into the project only to hate the result. Spending a little bit more on the front end helped ensure that we’d be happy with the finished product. And were we ever happy! Here’s the before shot of our fireplace, as an example:
Had I not had professional help, I never would have chosen this shade of gray for the walls, but I love the drama it creates when contrasted against the white and the hardwood floor. Before we painted, the fireplace faded into the corner of the room, now it really stands out (if only I’d remembered to have a fire on when I took this shot!).
When choosing a colour for your cottage, I highly recommend getting some advice from the pros. Ideally, you’d have someone come to assess the place themselves. That way, they can take the changing light into account, as well as the natural environment. This is doubly true if you’re painting the exterior of the building—a much more costly and time-consuming venture. If you can’t find someone to make the trek to your place, try taking photos to them. Or think about visiting a paint website for suggestions on complimentary colour combinations; that will at least get some ideas flowing.
Oh, and to Maggie: As you can see, the walls are a dark grey and the ceilings are an even darker shade of same. The trim, of course, is white. At first I wanted to do a light colour (yellow, to be specific) on the ceiling because I was afraid that something dark would look heavy. But the ceilings are very high so could hold something dark. And it looks great, if I do say so myself!