Kara's Favorite Paint Colors & Painting Tips
I’m a big fan of earthy colors, and here are some of my favorite colors and some general tips when picking just the right shade…
My favorite taupes & tans: Laura Ashley “Taupe 3″ at Lowe’s, “Cafe Au Lait” from Restoration Hardware, Seaside Retreat’s “Beachnut” at Lowe’s, Laura Ashley “Stone 2″ at Lowe’s, Ralph Lauren’s “Wave of Grain” at Home Depot, “Macadamia” SW6142 from Sherman Williams, and for a darker shade, “Cappucino” from Restoration Hardware.
My favorite greenish-bluish-gray: Seaside Retreat’s “Silver Sea” at Lowe’s. I love this color — it’s more green during the day, and more blue at night. Great for a spa bathroom, or soothing bedroom color, or home office. Another more icy-blue alternative (if you’re doing the blue/chocolate brown thing) is “Palladium Blue” by Benjamin Moore.
My favorite “zen greenish-gray”: Seaside Retreat’s “Stonecastle” at Lowe’s looks like a gray on the swatch, and will shock you that you just painted a room dark gray while it’s wet on the wall. However, once it dries, it’s the most perfect zen grayish stone green color and is a perfect “green neutral” for a Master bedroom, or a spa bathroom. Want a darker tone? Try “Rope” by Eddie Bauer at Lowe’s.
My favorite red: Laura Ashley “Russet 5″ at Lowe’s- very dramatic, very nice red. Takes 3 coats (like any red) but gets lots of wows! Great in a country style or very modern home.
My favorite yellow: For a real yellow that’s definitely yellow but soft enough to live with and nothing like an obnoxious stoplight, I like “Crane Cottage Yellow” from the National Trust Historic Paint Colors line at Lowe’s.
My favorite neutral yellow: National Trust Historic Paint color “Belle Grove Buff” at Lowe’s.
My favorite “french” blue: Seaside Retreat’s “Seaside Villa” at Lowe’s for a blue that’s bold without being a harsh or “Carolina” blue.
My favorite off-white: Seaside Retreat’s “Magnolia Spray” at Lowe’s. It’s got a touch of pink to it, but looks fantastic with espresso dark woods, white trim, and neutral flooring. If you like a more yellowish off-white, I like Ralph Lauren’s “Sail Cloth”.
Which brand of paint do I like? You may notice most of my paint recommendations come from Lowe’s or Walmart and not Home Depot. Not a slam at Home Depot, but I can’t stand the Behr brand paint they carry. It’s too thin so it takes too many coats for my “let’s get this done” nature. I love Lowe’s Valspar paint, and I also love the Walmart Colorplace brand. It’s rumored to actually be generic Sherman Williams at 1/3rd the price — so at $12/gallon, everyone can afford to spruce up the place! My only issue with the Colorplace paint is that their latex paints get a bit “latexy” so if you’re using painter’s tape, pull it off when the paint is about 75% dry, so it doesn’t ruin the clean edge.
Painting tips for picking the right shade:
- Always paint color samples on your wall instead of holding up fan decks or paper swatches. Color can vary greatly depending on what color’s underneath it, whether or not you’re priming, the wall texture, etc. And what looks like the perfect taupe on a 2 inch swatch can be a grayish-green when it coats a whole wall.
- Paint samples on multiple walls. What looked good on a side wall may not look so great when it’s on your focal wall. You want the main focal wall to be the perfect shade when you’re trying paints out. It’s amazing how the same color can appear completely different (too dark, too light, too yellow, too green) depending on the room’s natural light and furniture placement. This tip is especially important in paints with a grayish base (taupes, grays, some greens & blues).
- Look at your sample in both daylight and at nighttime. It may look great during the day but too dreary at night. If that’s the case, use my next (and favorite) tip:
- Try a percentage of the pigmentation. For example, if you like a color in the can but think it dries too dark on the wall, ask for a paint sample of the original color at 75% pigmentation. It’ll have more white in it so when it dries it’s a little lighter. I like this better than the old rule of “if you like a color, go up 2 shade on the swatch card.”