How to Choose Paint Colors, Part 1

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  March 8, 2012 — 9 Comments

March is here and guess what? That means I can officially start working on the nursery without feeling like a crazy person. It helps that I finally feel like I’ve reached the point in the office that I can start branching out to other projects without feeling like I’ve abandoned it. I’ve still got some goals for the office, like adding some really functional storage furniture and going through the remaining piles of clutter, but I know that it’s come a long way and the rest will just come together when the time is right.

My friend Lauren is coming from Atlanta to visit me for my birthday in a month and has promised to give me the best gift a girl could ask for: the gift of cutting in. That’s right, my much-more-detail-oriented friend is going to painstakingly cut in along each and every edge of the future nursery while I get my roll on. I’m stoked.

Of course, before that can happen I’ve gotta choose a color. I’m a little wary after the whole office thing. I’m still not a big fan of the color in there and I don’t want to get locked into another color that I regret. So, I decided to go back to the trusty method I used to pick the paint color in our living room, which I love (Overcast by Benjamin Moore). Of course that was pre-blogging, so I don’t have any before pics (and of course you can tell from the not-torn-apart wing chairs that this is an older pic stolen from my House Tour page).

I knew that I wanted to paint the nursery gray, which I’m sure evokes in your minds images of a drab, institutional room not at all befitting the precious little person growing in my belly. But I had in mind a very pale gray, something neutral that would reflect a lot of light and be a good backdrop for all the colorful furniture, art, and accessories I’m planning to add. The word that kept coming to my mind when I thought of it was “platinum.” I wanted something that would really shine. And I know that I like Benjamin Moore colors (although not the cost–a gallon of the no-VOC stuff is more than twice as much as what I can get matched to the same color at Lowe’s). So I got started by stopping by my local Ben Moore retailer and grabbing every gray swatch in sight. Then I came home and taped them up on the wall.

I immediately went through and used a pencil to make a small star in the corner of those that appealed to me the most.

Then I walked away. This is a rather slow process. The next morning I came at it with fresh eyes and used a pair of scissors to snip off those that were obviously not going to work (too dark, too blue, etc).

Then I consolidated. And for the rest of the day I made a point to stop and stare for a moment every time I walked through the room (it’s on the way to the bathroom, so that’s a lot for this pregnant lady), snipping any that I decided had to go.

By that afternoon I’d pared the selection down significantly. I moved the whole operation to a new wall to consider the Top 23 in a different light.

A day later, Sunday evening, I had my finalists. Onto yet another wall they went for a final round of judging.

Then Monday came and life got in the way and I spent the next few days not really making much progress other than stopping periodically on my way to the bathroom to consider how awesome they all were.

But yesterday after work I finally decided to cut a few more out, and then there were five. Notice that they all have stars from my initial evaluation on Friday afternoon? Maybe I should have just narrowed it down right then and there.

As similar as they all appear, there was one that had really stuck out to me from the beginning.

Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray.

Benjamin Moore

And how great is that name? Classic is exactly what I’m going for here. I love classic. But no way am I risking wasting my precious cutter-inner on a paint color I’m not positive I love, so I’ll be taking the extra step of getting a sample pot to slather on ahead of time. And just to be on the safe side I think it would be wise to compare it against a runner-up. You know, just so I don’t get blinded by the excitement of putting a color on the wall. After going back and staring at them some more, I think the best one to give a second chance to is White Drifts. Even though it looks pretty similar to Classic Gray in the last photo, it appears significantly lighter and more blueish in real life. My two biggest fears are going too dark or too green, so that should have me covered. Stay tuned for Part Two, which will happen sometime in the next few weeks, featuring sample pots of paint slathered all over the walls.

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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9 responses to How to Choose Paint Colors, Part 1

  1. I wish I’d read this before painting my bedroom! :)
    There are just TOO many shades out there!

  2. Great idea – pinning the samples up on the wall. I love the idea of a neutral grey wall and then colorful decor and furniture to lighten the space. Can’t wait to read more as you progress!

  3. Have you checked out the blog “Involving Color”? you can browse pictures in different color families, or google the paint color name(s) you are considering and find pictures of rooms painted those colors to see how they look….

  4. Good luck. I like your choices. I think either of your colors will make you happy.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Choose Paint Colors, Part 2 | Living Well on the Cheap - March 12, 2012

    [...] 5,000 gray swatches to my wall and painstakingly narrowing them down. You can read all about it in How to Choose Paint Colors, Part 1. This weekend I took the giant, exciting leap of moving forward with Part 2. I took my two swatches [...]

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