Little-known statistic: 64 percent of decorating mistakes are made because people choose a paint color first. That’s an important statistic that I just made up to illustrate my point.
With five years of decorating mistakes behind me on this house, this is one thing I’ve learned the hard way: things go MUCH more smoothly when I choose the paint color LAST.
Here’s what usually happens to me when I start with a paint color. Has it happened to you? Tell me I’m not alone.
1. See an empty room and think: “It needs color! What has color? Paint! I’ll paint it!”
2. Think of a color I like. “Ooh! I like BLUE. How ’bout blue?”
3. Look at a bunch of paint chips for a blue option that seems pretty. Choose it. Spend $50 on paint.
4. Paint the room, still with no other decorating decisions made.
6. THEN, try to choose furniture, curtains, bedding, accessories that “go with” the paint color. Find something I like, maybe a pillow, and find that it’s CLOSE to the paint color but slightly off in a clashy way. Feel so limited by the specific paint color I chose that it’s nearly impossible to find other things to go in the room.
Then, I get stuck, or frustrated, or just give up and repaint, following the exact same process again. #DefinitionOfIinsanity
It is delightful to be married to me.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
*We’re now up to two meaningless statistics within this one post. That’s as much as 34% higher than normal for me.
ALL of my “problem rooms” where I feel stuck and can’t make decisions have this in common: I painted before I chose everything else.
For example: my guest bedroom. I loved this paint color, so I bought some paint and covered the walls. Then I STRUGGLED to find bedding to coordinate and curtains that didn’t clash. I ended up with a room that’s okay but mostly “meh” because I felt so limited.
(Never fear, little guest room: change is a-comin’!)
I chose the blue in my living room before I’d made any other decisions, plopped the Tannosaurus sectional in it and felt limited and lost, so I bought the first rug I could find that incorporated both colors.
It looks different now than it did in that photo because I’m learning to work with the paint color better, but I could’ve saved myself a LOT of trouble by going at it a different way.
The rooms I’ve done that I like the most, like Mila’s nursery, were a totally different story. They came together a million times more smoothly, and were more fun and less stressful, because the paint color was my LAST decision instead of my first.
Same with the office.
I think it’s totally cool to have an idea of the direction you want your paint color to go – light? dark? whiteish? – but waiting until you know what else is going in the room will always help you choose the right version of that color. Ya with me?
I never would’ve chosen “Irish Lace” for Mila’s room if I didn’t already know that I’d be using this fabric, which has a slightly more saturated version of that light-light-pink color as its background.
I probably would’ve chosen another white, maybe slightly yellow, that would’ve looked clashy with the fabric, and then I wouldn’t have been able to have the exact curtains that made me swoony and preggo-emotional.
And THAT would’ve been UGLY. Don’t even try to take away the fabric I love when I’m a million months pregnant and crying at the very thought of baby hairbows.
Because you know what? There are fifty four billion paint colors to choose from. But there are is a very, very LIMITED number of beautiful and affordable fabrics, rugs, pillows. It’s always easier to find a paint color to go with a fabric than the other way around. Can I get an amen to that?
There are situations which might be exceptions to this rule. If you’re going very, very neutral on the walls, the exact shade of white doesn’t matter as much.
Or if you plan to paint the wall a certain color and NOT have the paint color relate to anything else in the room. (Which can totally work, just know that’s the look you’re going for.)
Or, you know, if you’re an interior designer or something.
But generally, if I plan to paint my room “a color,” I find the process is endlessly easier if I pull the paint color from my selection of Other Things.
Remember when I warned you this Decorating 101 series would be about what I’ve done wrong? Yeah: THIS. A million times. In the next Decorating 101 post, I’ll share my favorite trick for pulling a room together, so none of us have to pull out our hair and repaint our master bedrooms 46 times like I did. (Update: check it out here — The Cheater Formula to Decorating an Empty Room.)
Do you usually start with a paint color? Do you ever paint yourself in a corner?
P.S.: Check out the other Decorating 101 posts right here!
P.P.S.: Ready to take the plunge? Make sure you check out these awesome painting tricks and shortcuts first!