Story by JK Devine
Beige. That was the color of the walls of my first apartment in May 2000.
The color made me feel drabby. But I was renting, so I was not allowed to paint.
My next apartment had mostly white walls. My landlady was kind enough to let me paint, but she wanted to approve the paint first. I didn’t mind. She was nice and I only wanted to paint the two bedrooms.
In my third home, I rented a three-bedroom, single-story house in a residential area with a big backyard. I loved it, except for the walls. Can you guess the color? Beige. And the carpet? Beige.
Could I paint it? No. I was a renter.
So when I finally bought my first home in 2010, I was looking forward to turning my white, vaulted walls into a serene color of my own choosing. But when you are faced with so much freedom, it is really hard to select colors.
Luckily, plenty of websites and even people are willing to help. For example, the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) network (www.diynetwork.com) and HGTV network (www.hgtv.com) have advice for picking the perfect color.
The paint retail store, Sherwin-Williams also has handy tips online for selecting colors. Plus, the store clerks and most home improvement stores can help you match any color from almost any item in your home. But the best advice I heard was from a Sherwin-Williams sales clerk, which has been reiterated by paint professionals at local home improvement stores:
Start with colors you like.
Select colors that will complement each other.
Colors should make your favorites pieces, such as a bed, couch or table, stand out or “pop.”
Pick the right finish for the right room.
For example, I decided to paint my kitchen yellow. It is a cheery color and would make my grandmother’s red formica table stand out.
Once I had that color, I knew green would be ideal for my living room adjacent. Green is a neutral and complemented the yellow. The muted color also made my cranberry color couch and loveseat stand out as the centerpiece of the room.
Finally, the walls by the big bay windows and the entryway would be a chocolate brown. The dark color made the white-trimmed windows appear like picture frames of my backyard. And the dark color of the entryway would make the white tile and door standout.
So my colors were selected. Now it was time to paint. I started with the kitchen for three reasons:
It was the smallest area to paint with only three walls.
It only had one window that I would have to paint around.
I could tarp the floor easily, but if paint got through, cleaning up tile would be easy.
Before painting you want to do a couple of things. First, have all of the tools. You need a paint brush for the small spaces, a roller brush for large surfaces, a tray for the paint, a drop cloth for the floor — trust me no matter how careful you are drips and splashes happen – and a damp cloth to clean up any spills quickly and easily.
Trust me, having the tools at hand before starting is much better than rushing back to the store to buy them in the middle of the job.
Second, prep the wall by doing the following:
Wipe down the wall with a damp sponge. This way you don’t paint dust into the wall or even cobwebs that you find in the corners. This also helps you identify any holes in the wall from hanging pictures or errant nails.
Remove any nails or screws and patch them with spackle. You can wait for the spackle to dry and sand it down or wipe it smoothly with a wet sponge.
Use tape on any trim or edges such as the baseboard or window frames that you don’t want painted. This will save time and create nice lines.
Finally, you are ready to paint.
Consumer Reports offers these tips when painting.
Pour a thick film of paint into the sloped section of the tray until the reservoir is filled about halfway; disposable liners will save time with clean up. A plastic paint pourer, which costs a few bucks at hardware stores and home centers, will help prevents spills.
Cutting, sometimes called trimming in, is when you paint a couple-inch-wide strip around any borders of a wall where the paint roller can’t easily reach.
Once the entire room is cut in, switch to the roller to fill in the large fields. Use short-nap rollers (1/4-inch deep) for most interior projects, since they tend to result in less splatter while still rolling on a smooth, thick coat.
Follow the four S’s.
Saturate: Load the roller by passing it through the paint several times to force in the paint. Then do a few lighter passes until the paint is just about dripping from the roller.
Smear: In a 2×2-foot section, smear the paint in an X, V, or Z pattern.
Spread: Spread the paint to cover the 2×2-foot section. It doesn’t matter which way you roll because you’re going to smooth it over.
Smooth: Do a series of single roller passes from top to bottom to smooth it out.
Repeat this process in 2×2-foot sections until the room is finished
Once you are done painting, give the paint about 10-20 minutes to dry before removing the tape. This will create a nice edge. If you wait too long to remove the tape, it will peel off some of the paint.
I can verify that. Two spots near my windows and baseboards had to be patched because I waited too long to remove the tape.
Now sit back and watch your paint dry, and enjoy your new color. If you don’t like it, then you can always repaint it.