January 31, 2012

how to pick neutral paint colors

These colors I'm considering for my new kitchen cabinets have been hanging out on the fridge, for viewing day and night, for over a week now. And I can say I am only slightly closer to picking one than I was a week ago. Now, I'm naturally indecisive, but picking neutrals is also notoriously tough. Here's my best advice for how to do it.

1. Get recommendations. What have people you trust used and loved? Try these first and you may save yourself a lot of time. Over the past months, I've picked up some hints as to a few to try. Revere Pewter and Clay Beige from Benjamin Moore were two I added to my list at the recommendation of some trusted friends.

2. Examine your samples, in the actual room you want to paint, in all kinds of light. Check out your paint colors day and night, in sun and clouds. This is how the undertones will emerge. For instance, I like Revere Pewter best in the morning light, when it's cool and clear, but less at night under indoor light, when it turns warmer and slightly peachy.

3. Get to know your undertones. There's always one to deal with, so figure out if you're okay with something a little more yellow, or pink, or blue. Gray Horse is too blue. The Sherwin Williams strip on the right is too pink. The strip on the left is looking good. A bit green. But as undertones go, this is one direction I'd head in gladly.

4. Bring in, if they're not there already, other colors and finishes that'll live in the room. For my kitchen cabinet color, that's why I initially pinned the colors up on the fridge, to see how they'd complement the stainless. I should also, according to my own rules, have a countertop and flooring sample here too, to see how the colors work together. Maybe that's why this decision has been so hard.

5. Finally, narrow down and paint a large sample. Here's where you get closer to finding what you'll really you love. Eliminate those colors you just can't live with and narrow down to just your favorites. I think three is plenty. Two is just fine. Buy some small paint samples and paint out a large sample on the wall, or even better, on a board you can move around the room and check out in the changing light of your space. Good luck! And I'll need it too!

At least I'm onto the last step. Unless anyone has any other neutral paint recommendations?!

By the way, here are some inspiration shots. If my kitchen could look like any of these, I'll be a very happy girl!

all images via pinterest


crisangsteninteriors.com said...

I can see where you are headed with the inspiration photos - lovely and classic! By the way, some Benjamin Moore stores offer posterboard-sized color swatches - sometimes easier (and neater) than swabbing a bit of paint on your wall.

Joyce Hoffman said...

Casey, what is the name of the gray green you are thinking about?

casey at loft and cottage said...

Great tip on the posterboards available from BM! And Joyce, I like both Sensible Hue and Aloof Gray from SW.

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

This is such a difficult, yet important decision. Who wants to repaint a room more than once??? Not me.
I love where you are heading with the cabinet color and gray/green wall color. Good luck choosing!

The Vintique Object said...

I wish I had read this before painting my cabinets! I had no idea how to pick and I didn't trust myself, so I just chose something someone else had done. In the end, I wish I had gone a bit darker...like BM's Dragon's Breath.
I agree that the strip on the left looks really great and like the green hue in the grey a lot! Will you paint the cabinets yourselves?

Holly said...

I'm really liking that strip on the left as well (I'm a green girl too). Your tips are great Casey. Have you picked out your flooring or counters yet for sure? And as far as inspirations, they're all so beautiful - but that first one is a stunner and the second one with the spectacular marble backsplash is one that I just pinned onto my Pinterest board because I loved it so much.

Mel M. M. McCarthy said...

Oh now this is great to know. Makes me want to paint something a lovely neutral. Thanks, Casey!

Dawn F said...

I found your blog thru Rene at cottage and vine. So fun to see the progress in your home! Good luck with the kitchen... I love the revere pewter. Such a warm color and it looks great with the stainless. Good luck! Following you now...

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