The adage certainly applies when it comes to housepainting, both interior and exterior. Paint protects and increases the life of your home, and even the multithumbed can do the work, and save an estimated 75 to 85 percent of labor costs.
Before launching into the job, however, spend some time thinking about and deciding the colors you want. There are a number of things to consider when selecting paint colors for interior and exterior painting.
Paint is mixed in a store, and you can dab a little of the mixed paint on the same sample color chip and then let it dry. The chips are actually small paint samples, not photographic renditions, so you are looking for the mixed sample to be right on the money, or close. It should be noted, though, that if a chip is flat or eggshell sheen, the dried dab will appear different, and sometimes dramatically so because of the way it reflects light.
Be aware, too, that a paint color looks dramatically different in the store than it does on your walls. There are a number of reasons for this, including surface porosity, the way the paint reflects light, the amount of light in the room, and reflectance of colors from adjacent objects.
Surest Way to Pick Colors
To insure that the color is correct, it's best to have a small sample made and to try it on the wall. A quart is enough. Never pick colors according to the way paint looks in the can. Colors always dry darker than they appear when wet.
Ultimately, picking colors for the inside or the outside of a house is subjective. What is good for one person will be poison to another.
Today, well-stocked paint stores can computer-match most solid colors that are brought in. When I worked in a large home-improvement center I color-matched everything from a shutter to a frankfurter roll.
Interior Color Hints
The following are some tried-and-true interior color hints:
Colors in one room should complement those used in others. For example, if you had five rooms, you wouldn't want to paint each a different color. The effect would be chaotic. Your best bet is to use complementary colors, or different shades of the same colors.
Paint should be selected at the same time that wallpaper, flooring, and furniture are picked, if these are new or being changed.
Colors are often selected from colors within wallpaper, or the colors in a rug or other flooring.
A piece of clothing might be a starting point.
A favorite painting or rug may contain a pleasing color combination to serve as a starting point.
When a room contains multiple colors, the general rule is that the main color is used in 2/3 of the room and other colors in 1/3. This usually happens automatically because the walls, which contain the most square footage, are usually painted first.
Ceilings are usually the lightest colors (usually but not always white), walls are darker, and floors the darkest element of all.
Bold or bright, warm colors tend to make a room seem smaller. So do darker colors.
Light pastel colors can make a room seem larger.
If a room is too sunny, use blues and greens as a moderating effect.
Color to Cure Architectural Flaws
Color can also be used to correct architectural flaws, fooling the eye so that they are not as noticeable. Following are some situations where paint can help:
Low Ceiling. Some ceilings are very low, and can give one a claustrophobic feeling. The basement is one such area where this problem often arises. To “raise” the ceiling, paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls.
High ceiling. There are a couple of ways to “lower” a ceiling. You can apply a medium or darker color on your walls and ceilings, or use a darker color on the ceiling than on the walls.
Undersized room. If a room is very small, you can, as suggested above, use light pastel colors.
Narrow rooms. Paint the short walls at each end a darker color than the longer walls.
Irregular angles. If a room contains irregularities, such as a chimney jutting into a room or jogs, paint everything the same color. This tends to de-emphasize odd angles.
Exterior Color Hints
A number of color experts subscribe to the idea of having three colors on the outside: one main color and two other colors for the trim. The siding would be one color, a little on the conservative side. The front and rear doors and the windows should be another color, one that complements the siding color. The shutters, lamp post, mailbox, and house numbers can be a third color. The color would, again, be different but complementary.
In designing the color scheme, it is important to avoid having the trim or any other color that is different from the siding, stand alone from the other colors. For example, a house with beige siding, bright violet doors and windows, and yellow shutters would look chaotic. Exterior colors, again, must work together.
The following are more exterior color hints:
Don't draw attention to downspouts, gutters, electrical conduit, meters, air conditioner units, and vents by painting them. These should be the same color as the siding or trim that they're mounted on.
Don't draw attention to an attached garage by painting it a boldly different color. It should be the same color as the siding or a softer shade in the same color family.
For the chimney and foundation, you can use a deeper shade of the body color; this tends to make them seem more solidly mounted.
Medium to dark colors usually make a house appear smaller, and light to neutral colors make it look strong.
If you want to make a tall house seem shorter, paint the top a deeper tone than the bottom. This also works when the lot is small and one wants to bring the house size down, and also when the landscaping hasn't grown in and the house appears stark and overwhelming in size.
Using a dark color to outline windows and trim will make a house look smaller. Lighter color on the trim will make a house look larger. Dark outline colors tend to pull the size of a house in; light ones expand it.
Color ideas can come from a variety of places. Consider using a color you like from the inside of your home, or pick up a color from stonework outside or perhaps flowers or a plant. Color ideas can also come from checking color schemes of similar-style homes in the neighborhood.
Victorian and other period houses were painted with specific colors. If you have a house of this type and want to know what the colors were, check the library. There are books that show color schemes.
Obtain manufacturers’ color cards at paint stores and home centers. A number of these show homes painted with various combinations of colors that might work for you.
To test combinations of colors, draw a picture of your home and color in various areas with colored pencils. Or, take a photo of the house and photocopy it, enlarge it, and then color it. The colors won't be accurate, but they will give a sense of how they will work together.
Buy quarts of colors and apply them to various areas of the house and observe how they look overall and in various lights.