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Painting Pains - A New Homeowner’s Thoughts on Choosing the Right Color

Painting is one of the first projects that homebuyers tackle in their new house. There’s something about a fresh coat of paint that just totally breathes new life into a space. Hear from Marcie Block, Senior Graphic Designer at TowneBank Mortgage, about what she learned during her paint selection journey.  

In the past year, I got married, bought a house and went bungy jumping from 440 feet, but none of these monumental achievements prepared me for one of life’s biggest decisions: choosing the right paint color. For the more visually sensitive among us, walking into a room with the wrong shade of beige can be like walking into a Walmart on Black Friday; it’s not pretty. Nevertheless, I embraced this new color expedition despite my tendency to overthink aesthetic choices.

During our first visit to Home Depot, my husband and I approached our painting game plan with confidence as we swiped swatches, browsed brushes and headed home to make a decision. Several weeks later, a dozen samples were splattered in a rainbow war zone of indecision on our family room walls and with every new color I rolled on, my frightened husband would quietly say “That one’s nice, too,” when asked what he thought.

Upon every return trip, the painting aisle staff mocked me with murmurs of “Welcome back", as I shuffled past them with my highlighted reference book of swatches in hand, studying new samples like a stressed senior during finals week who is about to move back home if she didn’t pass her color theory class. I’d marvel at others who would choose a bold blue for Junior’s room or aggressive gray for Dad’s office within mere seconds of arrival to the store and then saunter out swinging their latex gallon of confidence. But finally, after a painting sample ceasefire encouraged by a generous Memorial Day sale, we chose a peaceful silvery blue shade for our main living space, which will serve as a calming recovery room before we tackle the rest of the house.

Here is some painting wisdom that we can impart so far:

1 - Neutrality is for the common good.

For larger, open common spaces in your home that you plan to share with family and friends, it may feel most welcoming to stick with softer neutrals knowing you can always make a statement with artwork and unique furniture later on. Save those funky fuchsias and experimental wallpaper patterns for a fun spare room or smaller accent wall.

2 - Sheen matters.

Glossier finishes are easier to clean and moisture resistant, but they also reflect light differently. Most paper paint samples have a matte finish, so be sure to buy a small sample jar in your desired sheen to test on your actual wall before making a final decision.

3 - See the light.

Whether from windows or artificial sources, lighting can affect how paint color is perceived. Light bulbs give everything from a warm amber glow to a cool daylight cast, and remember that what you saw under the fluorescent paint store lights will change when you get home. Once you’ve applied your paint sample to a wall, view it at different times of the day; a cheerful cream in the morning may turn into a dismal gray by night.

4 - Paint color is not for as long as you both shall live.

Saying “I Do” to a paint color is not quite as permanent as choosing a life partner, so in the end pick a paint that makes your heart happy today, knowing that you may take a trip or watch a sunset that will make you crave a whole new color palette someday.


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