The Paint: I never want to look at another swatch of paint again
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Words of Wisdom
If there is one thing I can tell you about selecting paint color it is to do your research. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, just pick out a paint chip and call it a day. Find every Joanna Gaines wannabe out there (guilty) and read up on their paint reviews, blogs, videos and more. Find out about the sheen, the amount of light in your room, the directions of your windows, the undertones, the way certain colors work together, etc. I spent hours upon hours doing research. If you feel as though your eyes are going to fall out of your head and that if you hear one more thing about Agreeable Grey that you're going to pass out then congratulations, you're on the right track. You do not want to paint your 2,000 sqft house and find that it looks purple instead of grey because you didn't read up on the undertones in certain lights. Trust me on this, been there done that.
Talk to Friends
I had reached out to a lot of friends when trying to figure out paint colors. I talked to my sister, Liz, who had just painted her entire house Alabaster. I really liked the clean look of her house with the off white color. I talked to my friend, Jane, who had recently painted her house. We had stayed with her back in March (our last group event before the pandemic!) and I loved her kitchen and bedroom color and took note of that. Lastly, I had one friend who had built a new construction home so she had literally just picked out paint. I saw a photo on Instagram and loved her wall color. I texted her, she went to her garage and sent me photos of all of the left over paint cans and lo and behold that is now the color in our living room - Aesthetic White by Sherwin Williams (thanks Sara!). Our bedroom and master bath is Fleur De Sel, Jane's kitchen and bedroom color. Sorry sister, I didn't go with Alabaster but your fresh clean look had me sold! Thank you friends for being guinea pigs for us! However, don't let these little stories fool you. It wasn't that easy- even after seeing those colors in their homes I still did a ton of research, bought many samples and had my condo looking like a rainbow zebra of grey and white before landing on the final choices.
White or White?
Since our living space is totally open, it only made sense to do one color in the living space with the exception of the white shiplap walls. We agreed that we wanted white-ish walls. Now, I knew there were a lot of shades of white. What I did not know is that there are A LOT A LOT A LOT of shades of white. Do you know how many shades of white exist? I'd dare to say thousands but I actually have no idea. We wanted a color that looked white until you compared it to the true white of the trim or the cabinets. Luckily, lots of bloggers before me have put in depth information out there about paint colors so that is where I started once I had some ideas from friends. Below are some things to consider when selecting paint.
Window Direction: Do your windows face north, south, east, west or somewhere in between?
I think this article sums up pretty nicely why it matters. I won't reinvent the wheel so click on that and read it. This ultimately helped me make decisions about the exact shades to do in each area of the condo. To figure out what direction your windows face, just pull up the satellite view on google maps. My Jersey friends, you know the beach is due east so use that as a reference. In Orlando I used the I-4/408 intersection to figure it out.
Time of Day: Keep in mind the time of day also effects lighting and paint color. What time of day will you be in your space most often? For me, it was early mornings and evenings because I normally leave from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm for work. Although, that changed in April but I didn't know that would happen- thanks covid. So, paint your samples and let them dry and then go look at them at the time of day you will most often be in the space. It's crazy how the morning color is quite different from the evening.
Finish: FLat? Eggshell? What?
Paint has varying levels of sheen and durability. See below for some general guidelines:
Trim color: We wanted our trim to be a true white but you can always paint your trim a color. There are many blogs that recommend other shades of white or grey which look great however it takes a little more coordinating of all colors if you go that route. Our painter recommended for the ceiling to be Sherwin Williams HDTV ceiling paint, flat white, no shade or color just white so we went with that. He said the trim paint they use is the "semi gloss pro mar 200 Sherwin Williams" tinted to "pure white" as adding tint provides much better coverage. So we said great and that is what we have. No complaints!
Resale Value: Since this condo is an investment property, we had to keep in mind resale value. That meant no stenciling "Live, Love, Laugh" above the doors in hot pink like I did in college (yes, I actually did that. I am still wondering why my roommates didn't have an intervention. You guys know who you are.) If you are considering a bright or bold color and you don't think you will get sick of it in a few years, then go for it BUT consider when you plan to move or sell or rent this space. If you'll be living in this home for the next 10 plus years then totally go for it because you'll likely end up repainting in 10 years or it'll need a refresh to sell regardless. We wanted really neutral colors that are more timeless than trendy. Although white can feel a little bland, decorations can easily spice it up.
Accents: In general, I like to go neutral with most of the walls and paint an accent wall if I want a pop of color. Another bad decision I made in college was to make an accent wall by painting tiny little foot prints on across the wall. The idea was for it to look like tracks in the sand since my bathroom was beach themed. What it actually looked like was a tiny baby had scaled my wall- which is both weird and creepy. Again, roomies, where were you? Despite the poor design decisions I made in college, the thought process was the same. Keep it basic and and a little accent here and there to liven it up. It's easier to change one accent wall rather than repaint an entire room if you get sick of it. This time, our accent walls are the shiplap which are white, and subtle, instead of color. We then added the blue island as our pop of color and are decorating with lots of color to add to that. The island is a little risky in that it's not the easiest thing to change however someone could always repaint it if they really wanted to. We decided to take the risk and go a little trendy there.
Pro Tip: If you go with Sherwin Williams, I recommend making an account on their website. Having an account allows you to save colors that you like and utilize some other tools. When you click on a color it'll even give you recommendations for coordinating colors which I found helpful as well. I hope that there are features like this on other paint company websites but since SW is my only experience I can't speak to other companies.
The Kitchen Island
What was cool about working with a local contractor, is that they make and paint the cabinets themselves so we had our choice of any Sherwin Williams Color out there. We knew we wanted navy blue but again, there are 100 different navy blue shades. I called Sherwin Williams and asked them for a bunch of paint chips in navy blue and then we used that to compare it against a sample of a cabinet in navy we had ordered online. Another thing I highly recommend is spending the few extra bucks on samples. Cabinet samples, paint samples, tile samples, carpet samples. I had all the samples. We wanted a dark navy and wound up with the color Naval by Sherwin WIlliams which we are very happy with. We also decided to paint the inside of our front door (HOA won't allow the outside of the door painted, boo) the same color so it adds some color to the condo among all of the off white and grey and gives it a homey feel.
Reviews of our Paint Colors
I should mention that we went with Sherwin Williams because that is what our contractor preferred and since he does this for a living, I trusted him. I've heard great things about Benjamin Moore and other brands but Sherwin was our guy for this project.
Aesthetic White by Sherwin Williams: In the simplest of terms, this color is off white. It looks white if you're just looking at it but when compared to our shiplap and white trim it has a nice contrast. It seems to lean a little grey in the undertones but not blue at all. If anything, I'd say it's a very very very light greige which was the color we were going for. In the morning light it's more warm but cools off in the evening. It's also warmer under our dining room light which is a warm white bulb and cooler with our can lighting which are set to a daylight color. I really love it and wouldn't change it. I also think it works well with the brown of the "wood" floor and our espresso colored couch but still looks nice with grey accents too.
Fleur De Sel by Sherwin Williams: Thank you Jane for this color! We used this in both bedrooms and the master bath. The rest of the unit is Aesthetic White. I did not find much about this color online so it really is a gem that Jane discovered and isn't necessarily in the trending colors you read a lot about in the DIY blogs. It's a very light grey with blue undertones but they are subtle. I decided it was a little too blue for us to do the entire unit but I like the idea of a slight tinge of color in the bedroom. When I say slight, I mean it. You would also look at this color and think it's light grey or white until you see it contrasting with the trim. Again, I did not want color on my walls so that was a personal preference. It's another one that also really looks different in different spaces. I did not think it looked blue at all at Jane's house. Not even a little bit. I felt like it looked cooler and bluer in our living space because of the direction of the windows. Ultimately it landed in our master and guest room and depending on the time of day I think it has a blue tint and other times I don't see blue at all. Another reason I hate picking paint... it's very deceptive!
Naval by Sherwin Williams: It's a true dark navy blue. We are thrilled with how it came out. It's not too blue and it's really neutral. I wasn't totally sure how I felt about black hardware on the blue but I think it works! The front door hardware is a mess so we still need to update that!
The Colors Up for Consideration
Crushed Ice, On the Rocks, Agreeable Grey, Knitting Needles, Repose Grey, Topsail, Spatial White, Alabaster, Snow Bound...and many more.
Ultimately, these colors were just not what we were going for. Although I was SO close with On The Rocks - it's a great color but Brenton thought it was too dark and I agreed. Some were too grey and some reviews said they had weird undertones. For example, some off whites can actually pull a pinkish tone in the right light so watch out for that! We thought we wanted to paint the bathrooms an actual color, like Topsail, but decided against it in order to keep things consistent and I am glad we did.
For one reason or another the paint decision stressed me out! I think it's because it makes a HUGE difference in your space and also because we were not doing it ourselves so I wanted to get it right so that I didn't have to repaint the whole unit myself after spending a lot of money to have it done professionally. I felt reassured when I emailed our contractor the colors and he told me we were the second house this week who picked Aesthetic White. Phew. I also feel good that I did so much research so even if I made a mistake and hated the paint, it wasn't because of lack of work on my end. All in all, we are thrilled!
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