Making a Painless Paint Choice

Cindy Beyer Design Tips

This is a sponsored column by Cindy Beyer, a Reston-based interior designer and Reston Now Best Reston Business Award winner. Find her online at

Hello, design friends. My name is Cindy Beyer, and I will be chatting with you for the next few months. I will gladly research any topic you wish. Today’s topic is choosing paint colors.

How many of you have painted a wall or even the entire room only to find that when it is finished it is not even close to the color you imagined? This happens more times than you can imagine, so don’t be so hard on yourself. If you have a happy husband or a friendly painter this would not be devastating. However, if you are paying a painter by the hour or job, you just might want to spend a little time before you apply the paint. Here are a few tips I use when choosing paint colors for my clients:

First, I meet with the client to review color choices from a fan deck or color card. These can be obtained from your local paint store. Each color card has several intensities, and I like to give the client the option of choosing a lighter intensity for the ceilings, and a darker intensity for the walls and accent walls.

Don’t be afraid to apply color to the ceiling.  Ceilings are just as important as walls and can drastically change the look of the room. Once chosen, I purchase a small quart or sample jar of the color to be painted on a large piece of poster board. This way we can move the sample from room to room to really get a feel of how the color will look on the wall. I suggest taping the samples up with blue painter’s tape. It is amazing how different a color looks next to a window, and at different times of the day. Keeping the sample up on the wall for a few days is really worth the wait. Sit and enjoy your paint sample in the evening while sipping a glass of Chardonnay.

Once the color is chosen, I have the painter drag a few feet of paint on the wall to really get a feel for the color. If the color is acceptable, then it is safe to continue with the entire room. You must also keep in mind which finish is right for the application. Paint finishes include: flat/matte, eggshell, semi-gloss and gloss.

For most applications, I use a flat or matte finish, which shows the least amount of imperfections such as nail pops or bad drywall seams. Eggshell is a good finish to use in high traffic areas, bathrooms, kitchens and children’s rooms. Semi-gloss stands up to water and is good for doors and trims. The gloss finish is hard and shiny and is also used for doors and trims as well as furniture. When you are experimenting with your color boards if possible choose the correct finish to really gauge how your color will look on the wall. Have fun with it. Remember that it is only paint.

If you need help with your color choices, send me a note on my website.

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