Paint tips from the pros

June 04, 2009

I have picked up a few things about paint in the "biz" that I wanted to share with you. 

OH, and I'll throw in a few of my paint colors in here too.

Family Room: Sisal, Ralph Lauren/Behr

Picking out color:
MOST of the time, it is helpful to start with some sort of inspiration and work off of that. A pillow, fabric, a vase...anything. When you start with the paint color and go from there, it gets more difficult to decorate around it. Ask me -- we picked a color before moving in for half of our house, and now I know it is really hard to work with. Really hard.

Obviously, you can pick out a wall color first, if it's a neutral, like a cream, tan, gold, etc.
*You can color match just about ANYTHING. Take your inspiration into the store and ask them if they can color match it. Then, you can ask them to adjust the shade according to what you need.

*BEFORE you buy your paint, pay a few bucks and get a sample. Take it home and paint it on a poster board. Hang it on the wall and live with it for at least 24 hours. Look at it during the day, at night, on a cloudy will be shocked at how different the color will look in your own home, in your own light. I cannot stress how important this is. I know how hard it is to be patient and wait that extra day, but you will not regret it.

*If you have a home that is more of an open concept, I always recommend picking a color you love and working off that paint chip -- lighter for some rooms, medium for others, darker for some. This keeps it in the same family but they all work together.

*There are three rooms I think you can totally have fun with and get dramatic if you want -- laundry rooms, powder rooms and dining rooms. That's just my personal opinion though, it's YOUR house and you can do what YOU want and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's just paint.

Master bedroom: fireplace wall, Mossy Aura, Valspar; walls, Tornado Watch, Valspar

Picking a finish:

If you have ever had a builder, decorator or painter pick your finish, they will most likely ALWAYS pick a flat sheen. This is because flat paint ALWAYS looks better, on any wall. It hides all imperfections in the wall. BUT...if any of these people have children under ten, they would NOT put this sheen in their own homes. Flat paint is awful awful awful, uck, yeck, blah!! It is impossible to clean. When you wipe it, it wipes up to a shiny sheen. You cannot get marks out of it without making a shiny mark on the wall. 

 *For living spaces, I like eggshell or satin. 

You can wipe it off if needed, and it hides imperfections pretty well. For any space that may get messes on the wall, a glossier sheen is best. I use a gloss for our bathrooms and laundry room. (I should mention, I should not have used this in our master bath. With the super high ceilings the glossy accentuates all the roller marks, which annoys me every. day.) I always use high gloss for moldings and trim. *There are new wipeable flat paints, which I am liking. I used this in our powder room and so far, so good. *I always use latex paint. Oil holds up better (from what I hear) but I've never had a problem with latex. It's so much easier to work with.

Living room: walls, Beechwood Grey, Porter

darker accents, French Toast (I think!!), Porter

(Porter changed all of their colors about a year ago and the closest I've found now is Thumper and Ranch Mink.)


I always use the following every time I paint:

1. Blue painters tape. Masking tape also works.
2. Cutting in tool – spongy-type thing that you can use to paint the top of the wall and around windows and doors. 3. Angled paint brush. 4. Plastic paint trays – you don’t need to buy the expensive metal ones. The plastic ones work perfect. 5. A couple rollers

*I highly recommend Behr paint from Home Depot. You really don’t need to buy the expensive paints (Sherwin Williams/Porter). If you find a color that you like in one of these lines, take the chip to the big box store and they'll match it. *Make sure you get more than enough paint. It is recommended you do two coats – I never do, but always wish I had. 

There are calculators online that can tell you how much you’ll need, or ask the paint department employee. It is important you get enough because no two batches will be exactly the same. If you run out of paint and have to get more mixed, you will most likely notice a difference in the paint color. This is incredibly avoid the frustration. :) * If you have a house with an open floor plan, it can be hard to figure out when to start and stop colors. 

Most of the time I don't recommend stopping in the middle of a wall to start a new color, but there are exceptions. (I say this because I'm about to do it.) A general rule is to make your colors flow with the direction of the rooms -- as you walk through them. (From the front door, through the house.) So if you are questioning where to stop a color at a corner or break in the wall, consider how the space flows. I hope that makes sense! *One of my best tips is this -- when you stop for the day, take your paint brush and roller and put them in a large ziplock baggy. Or put them in a few grocery bags and tie them up, airtight. Some recommend to put them in the fridge, but I find you don't need to do this. 

This keeps the paint on the brush/roller wet so you can pull them right back out hours later or the next day to use them again.

Office: Fired Brick, Sherwin Williams (matched at Home Depot). This looks orangey in the pic but is really a nice brick red.

After you are done:

Keep the paint chip in a file, or better yet, write down all of the paint “codes” and keep them – it is so frustrating to not have the exact color written down when you need it. Just about the only thing you can’t color match is your wall!

*If you have small airtight jars, this is a great way to hold some extra paint and keep in handy for touch ups.

Nursery: Pale Sand 1, Pale Apple 1, Apple, Apple 4, Lowe's

OK, any other questions? If so, I'll edit this and add to this post. 

Laundry room: Manila Tint, Behr
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  1. Whoooo...that is a lot of info! Thanks for all the great tips!

    And Kristina is not allowed to live with you unless I can come too!

  2. Lol...I know you don't want all these people living with about you just come re-decorate my house? lol..

  3. Very pretty colors! I love matching DeVine paint colors (sold at Miller paint, in Oregon, where I live). They've got very nice colors, and lots of inspiration on their website. The paint is dreamy--like yogurt, like it says--and it doesn't smell bad (and goes on thick!). But I'm cheap, so I match it most of the time. :) I have DeVine Oat, Oak, Shell, Muslin, and Fog in my house.
    OH! And 2 tricks--you might know these! For making a straight line with 2 different colors (like, we have rounded corners--so to do different paints in 2 rooms that line up at that corner)--we put tape down the wall in a straight line, and then paint the color that will be on the other side of the tape first (a thin strip, just right next to the tape), and let that dry. Then paint the actual color you want on that side of the tape there. So, if there is any bleed-through, it is the color that SHOULD go on that side. Make sense? And when we tape trim & the ceiling, we always do a thin strip of clear mixing glaze & let that dry. It seals the tape to the trim or ceiling and makes it so the paint doesn't bleed through. It's one extra step, but flawless results!!! :) People comment on our paint lines being so great! :)

  4. I love the colours you've chosen and TOTALLY agree with the tester pot tip - you have to try it out in your own space, preferably for a few days.

  5. My BIL insisted we should do the two coats now while the house is empty and he was SO right. Even the rooms that looked fine after one- looked SO much better after two!!

    Love your rooms- so rich looking!!

  6. What a fantastic, informative post! Thank you!

    (surrounded by a shade of peach that MUST go!)

  7. Wow! Great post! Such great information. I am a fan of flat paint. I always buy the more expensive kind that is scrubable. I recently even painted a peice of furniture with it and it came out looking just like a milk paint finished peice. I was amazed.

  8. Wonderful post, Sarah! There were definitely some things in there I hadn't thought of before. Ditto on the satin is much better looking, but a pain in the rear to clean. ;)

    Most of our downstairs is a neutral a lot like your Sisal. The kitchen is a yellow that is NOT what I was going for (wish I'd known your tip for the poster board!) My dining room is red with the chair rail and everything below it in white. :)

    I liked this post a lot! :)

  9. Thank you for explaining why every new house has FLAT paint! I could not figure out why they'd ever choose it- I'm so frustrated trying to wipe off finger prints and I know I'm not alone.

  10. Thanks bunches for all the good tips. Yep, I've had flat paint on walls when my kids were young is NOT a good thing..
    I ADORE the brick red of your office.

  11. Lots of good info.

    I always take an write down the name of the paint (brand and sheen too) and the mixture combo on a piece of masking tape and then tape it to the inside of the light switch cover in the room. This way it is right in the room that I need and I don't ever have to worry about it getting lost if I ever need it.

  12. Great info that every homeowner should have when doing their own painting. Thanks so much!

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  13. And I like to put the date and room on the paint can as an easy way to remember when that room was painted!

    LOVE the new Behr Ultra paint from Home Depot - primer and paint in one. It completely covered a red wall in one coat! I'll never use anything else!

  14. Great info and tips. Paint makes such a difference in a home and getting it right is the most important part. Thanks. Hugs, Marty

  15. Nice colors,I especially love the red and the one in the family room.The sofa table you made behind your couch is great.I love that idea.My living room is so small and has no room for a sofa table and I've always wanted one.Looks like I'll be making a trip to home depot this weekend!:]

  16. I just wanted to share a tip that I lived tried and true by. When I purchase more than one gallon of paint (of the same color) I also purchase a five gallon bucket and mix the two when I get home. This will make sure that they are the same color for both coats, touch ups, etc. I didn't do this once, and sure enough they two gallons were just slightly different. It was just enough to notice when natural light would hit it, and it drove me nuts.

  17. thanks so much for posting about the types of paint. i have flat and it's a nightmare, i have to paint my whole house now. thanks builder! it is a nightmare, thanks for clarifying it up ;)

  18. GIRL, If I were to update my blog and write a post it would be all the SAME info! I couldn't agree with you more. BEHR paint, used the bag in between. We painted our own home when we built and saved tons of money and tons of nasty flat paint. Ha! Just remember, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time! My MOTTO. Looking at a blank dry walled house can be so intemiadating!

  19. GIRL, If I were to update my blog and write a post it would be all the SAME info! I couldn't agree with you more. BEHR paint, used the bag in between. We painted our own home when we built and saved tons of money and tons of nasty flat paint. Ha! Just remember, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time! My MOTTO. Looking at a blank dry walled house can be so intemiadating!

  20. Great tips. Now you need to post about how to get paint to not seep through the painter's tape and get a perfect line (like in your nursery).

  21. Wow - this is really comprehensive. Great tips! Thanks so much. Between coats I always wrap my rollers and brushes in foil. I also pour any remaining paint back into the can, but cover the tray with foil so I can use it again for the next coat without having rubbery dry bits of paint in there.

  22. Your laundry room always makes me smile! I love the satin paint choice for most painting jobs also- of course I use alot of oops paint for this big house we are trying to get in shape- so you can't be too very picky but will pass up flat every time!! Do you know if you can combine different sheens ? I have several different shades in gallon cans and need about 5 gallons for my livingroom- it is large! Several of the cans are satin , 1 is semi I believe I even have a flat( forgot to look!)


  23. Great tips...great post as usual. Have a great weekend:)

  24. This post is like a cheat sheet on painting. Thanks for the tips. I love color and have used many in my home.

  25. Okay, I'm a rule breaker (shocking, I know) because all I use is an angle brush and tape, no the can and go.

    And in my experience the "scrub-able" paint means that you can scrub it ONLY if you have less than 5 children in the house. Otherwise, you'll be repainting (a new color-DARN!) They really should have specified that on the bucket...

  26. Oh, and the perfect container for touch up paint? Baby food jars.

  27. Love the paint info. Your home is beautifully decorated!

  28. Great tips, as always.

    What I want to know is who gets to name these paints? How do you get THAT job? I'd be great at making up names that have no hint about their color:
    "Amish Lifestyle"... "Beach Towel"... "Gossip"...

    See? I'd be great.

  29. I could open a paint store with all the little tester pots I have! I wish everyone would have those little sample pots of paint but even Benjamin Moore doesn't carry all their colors.

    Good tips and I always wrap my brushes and rollers when I'm not finished. I wrap my paint tray in a plastic bag and the paint doesn't dry out if I leave it a day or two.


  30. I love your master bedroom color. It would look great in my dining room. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Love your rooms, especially the laundry room - it's fabulous!


  32. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. As always, a Fantastic post with a capital F. I use the posterboard trick and sticking the roller in the fridge too! You give some great painting advice. Love your colors too~thanks so much for joining the party!

  33. I totally started a blog because I couldn't stand not having one when you had your goodwill party. The next one you have, I will link up. Thank you for all the lovely inspiration you provide!

  34. I enjoyed reading your blog today.
    I am still finding my way around blogland....
    I always love making new friends..

    I am posting about Disney so hope you will stop by.
    Each comment enters you for the June giveaway.

  35. Great post with fabulous info and ideas in the comments - I love your blog. Had to pop in and say that I have used every paint out there and I absolutely LOVE Suprema by Dunn Edwards.

    It is LOW SHEEN like flat paint which hides the imperfections in the walls but ALSO can be scrubbed like semi-gloss - the coverage is amazing too!

    Technically a satin or eggshell comes in a close second but without the scrubability!

  36. I have something for you over at my blog!!

  37. wow! I'm soooo impressed with all the great info in this post.

    i'm loving the tip on the zip lock baggies!

    so - did you build the shelves in your little guy's room? if so, did you do a tutorial on it? i'm thinking that i might like to have some in charlie's room.

    noticed that you have a skipit on his shelf! charlie loooooves his!

  38. I love all of your colors! I wish I had gotten a sample of the paint I bought for my dining room instead of buying a gallon. Because now I don't like it and I have a whole gallon of it left. $30 down the drain. Live and learn, eh? haha

    I always use satin paint for the walls and semi gloss for the trim. For the kitchen and bathroom, I used the paint the special kitchen/bath paint and so far I really like it.

    You have a beautiful home! :)

  39. Hi Sarah,
    I really enjoyed your paint tutorial.
    Great colors you chose too! I adore rich paint colors and can't imagine ever having just white walls again. The entire feel of a room iis changed in one small can. It's amazing! I know you know what I mean....:)
    Are you going to show us how you divide the room with the two colors? I'm curious to see how you do it?

    Thanks for your kind words on our home. I always appreciate your visits.
    Chestnut is oblivious to the fish tanks, the bird etc...I think he's full. LOL!

    Have a wondeful Sunday.
    ~Melissa :)

  40. I enjoyed reading your blog today.
    I love all the new blogs
    I have found. Quite a unique group.
    I love making new blogging friends..
    I have several Disney posts already on my blog and have several more to post. Hope you will stop by for a visit.

  41. I just found your blog, and absolutely love your thrifty sense and finds. I wanted to mention that your laundry room is fab! One day, when I have my own home, I want to do the guest bathroom/powder room in a similar scheme. Except the bead board will probably come down a little lower and the yellow will be "Playbill" yellow -- that's what I like to call it (so it will match the yellow on a playbill, as it will be a Broadway themed bathroom. Think a broadway actor's backstage dressing room.) Anyway, love your ideas! ^_^

  42. Really great tips - especially your tip to buy a sampling of the paint to try before painting the entire space :)

  43. so funny - I ONLY Will paint with semi-gloss! That is all I like!!

    Love your blog!!

  44. Thanks for all the tips.
    I'm starting a painting project this weekend...that I'm sure will lead to four more. I haven't painted in years and am just a little ginky about forgeting something.
    I appreciated this post...especially today. It's like having a buddy there to hold my hand.

  45. first of all - great tips and advice! Second - love the colors you picked for your home, especially your laundry room - it is so fabulous!


  46. Hi there Thrifty Decor Chick,
    I love your blog! One quick question though...I see in your son's room, you used a green apple colored paint... and it seems like below one of the pictures it's a Lowe's paint brand, but I didn't know that Lowe's has there own paint brand. Or did I get that wrong...Please let me know what the brand and color are if you get a chance. Thank you!! :D Alison


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!