John’s Tips

Take advantage of John's experience! Below are some great tips for your next painting project!

Color & Design Tips:

  • Try using a slightly darker shade of white on the trim work rather than a bright white to create a subtler contrast between the walls and wood work.

  • Accent walls can provide a sensible solution to using bright, or strong color in a more modern type of architectural setting that are often devoid of molding and trim work.

  • Higher Gloss finishes last longer, but in most situations lower sheen levels provide a more restful look.

  • Choosing your colors after you have selected fabrics, and furniture in a room will be a lot easier than picking out colors in a total vacuum. Picking out colors without some sort of grounding can prove to be very frustrating and often unproductive.

  • Flatter finishes make colors look richer and hide more imperfections in surfaces.

  • Neutral colors that are subdued and understated will be a good choice for the walls as they tend to lay back and take on the other colors in the room.

  • Color choice often involves showcasing other objects or features in the room. For instance the dark chocolate wall behind the white sofa shows off its lines and shape.

  • Everyday fabrics and favorite items can serve as an inspiration and launching point for a painting and decorating a room.

  • Take color and design cues from the way you dress and your favorite outfits. Inspiration can come from the most common sources right around you. These will also be the most personal and meaningful to you.

  • So called “Historical Colors” are colors that are researched by paint companies based on archeological and historical evidence. These color collections range from vivid rich hues to really complex understated hues. They can provide an excellent set of “related colors” that will naturally flow from one room to another.

  • If you are having difficulty in picking your colors try limiting yourself to a specific “color collection” in a paint companies literature sample brochures.

  • Whites and Off-Whites can often be the hardest “colors” to choose, just because there is so little color difference amongst them. Try looking and identifying these whites as either cool or warm looking, this will make them easier to work with and identify.

  • Paint colors are best sampled in the room where they will be, also wall colors viewed in a vertical position will show you the true reflected color. A color will change in a room if it is moved from one plan to another simply from the way light is reflected. For ceiling colors view in the horizontal ceiling plane.

  • Picture moldings can be a great and inexpensive way to add dimension and balanced space to your room. They reduce the size and area of the wall color in a space that has high ceilings. This will allow you to use a dark, strong or bright color on the walls without being overwhelmed by the color.

  • Paint colors can look radically different between daylight and night-time incandescent lighting. To make sure a color works for you look at it in both kinds of light. Reds and yellows are especially subject to change.

  • When choosing a group of different colors for many rooms in the same house, look at using “related colors”. These can often be found in a paint company’s themed color books. To find a theme of the colors look at them as all belonging with one another in some way, while being different hues at the same time.

  • Grays are vastly underused colors, look for grays that have a little bit of color in them and they will provide some very rich and interesting possibilities in a room.

  • Color & Design Tips:

  • The more prep work that is done, the better the final paint job will look. Finding the right amount of prep work for you is both a personal and economic choice. Considering that a well prepared surface will usually look better, be more satisfying, and last longer – the cost of doing more prep work may make more sense than not doing it.

  • Regular touching-up or even repainting of selected areas and surfaces will extend the time you need to have them redone in total. For some exterior wood surfaces for instance, it is better to apply a yearly light protective coat than wait until your wood is rotting out from years of neglect.

  • Using a better or, best quality paint that looks better, lasts longer, and cleans up well, just makes sense. Cheap paint never pays.

  • Environmental, and structural design considerations should always be assessed when determining how long a paint coating should last and trying to prevent future paint failure.

  • If electrical plugs are coated in paint from previous work, it is advisable to replace them.

  • An excellent time to re-do the finish on hardwood floors is right before a basic painting job allowing floors to dry and cure for a day or two before starting.

  • An excellent way to sample colors is to purchase the smallest can, Benjamin Moore makes all of their colors in small sample pots. Paint them on a small piece of foam core, also available at your local B.M dealer, paint in two coats then once dry tape loops of masking tape behind the board and move the sample board around the room viewing on different walls at all times of day and night.

  • I like to wedge the sample board behind an artwork hanging on the wall. Wall color once completed tends to drop in the background. Placing the sample board behind something on the wall will give you a better overall picture of how the actual color will be perceived once painted on all the walls. Color on walls is usually not the focal point in the room. I like to say its the supporting actor not the main character in the story.

  • If looking at and deciding on colors is confusing try looking at them by evaluating them in 3 basic ways. HSV: Hue, Saturation, and Value. First look at the HUE, that is what the actual color is. The word Hue is more or less synonymous with the word color but the difference is color is a general term, while hue is more specific as to a color’s identity. It’s a fancy colorist word for color! The colors or hues of Red, Blue, Yellow those are the primary hues, secondary are Green, Purple and Orange they are made by combining two of the primary hues in about equal amounts. Then tertiary hues are simply hues that lean more to one side of the primary parents than the other. For example Red-Orange, is a predominantly Reddish Orange. As Yellow-Orange is more of a Yellow than Red orange. But all the hues are basically in the category of pure primary type or some combination of them.

    SATURATION is the 2nd criteria used in evaluating colors in general. For instance: You can have a subtle red, like “Barn Red” that is a lot less intense than “Fire Engine Red”. In decorating this is probably the most interesting aspect of color use and selection. This allows for a good part of the subtlety and evocative nature of interior color. This is the aspect that gives people pause and makes them describe a color like “Blue-Gray”, or “Pewter”, or “Storm Cloud”. They’re all grays but then again they’re not just black and white- they have tiny amounts of color in them like blue, red, brown even yellow. If you love color and want to use color in your interior you are not limited to simple pastels.

    The last criteria is called VALUE. This is basically lightness or darkness. This is one of the trickiest parts of color evaluation due to the fact of pigments versus actual physical light in the display and mathematics of color. But let’s not get too in depth here. Think of the gray scale. Going from Black to Dark Gray to Medium Gray to Light Gray to White. That is the Value Scale. Now apply hue and saturation to the mix and you have a 3 dimensional color wheel that shifts not only from Hue to Hue, but also going lighter to darker and then sliding between intensity and saturation of the Hue. Most computers and applications will have this Munsell Color selection wheel somewhere that is interactive. If you play around with this you can actually use it to pick your colors and become very familiar with this language and way of looking at color in general. Use this tool and skip the fan decks altogether!
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