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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wilson

How to Strategically Select Your Paint Colours & Finishes at the Same Time

Colour plays such an important role in our homes: it creates a mood, supports an overall look and feel, and of course, serves to unify all the elements into a harmonious whole. Living surrounded by colours that make us happy is definitely life-enhancing, but for the perfect end result, it's important that the colours work together well and bring out the best in each other.

Whether it's a new build or a renovation, it's so important to select all your finishes in context with one another. Doing it piecemeal- for example, selecting a backsplash without knowing what your countertops will be, means you've limited your options. This frequently ends in mistakes that can't be fixed without great cost.

Selecting all your finishes and colours at the same time is how to ensure a beautiful end result, but thinking about all the possible combinations can be overwhelming. Here's a four step process to guide you through it.

Step #1: Settle on a Specific Mood for the Space

Your first job is to figure out how you want to feel in your home. Do you want the vibe to be light and airy? Moody and sophisticated? Cozy and warm? Within your home, you may want some spaces to evoke a different mood, while still relating to the rest of the home, and colours and finishes play a huge role in making that happen. (For specific tips on how to create the mood you want, my post How to Make a Room Feel Just Right For You is the one to read)

You'll also want to consider what style of interior you feel most comfortable in, while taking into account the architectural style of your home.

Step #2: Find a Variety of Images for Visual Inspiration

Now that you've determined the overall mood you'd like to achieve, it's time to figure out what exactly will create that feeling for you. Pinterest can be your new best friend--dive deep to collect images of spaces that appeal to you and inspire the feelings you're wanting.

Once you have a good collection of images, look closely at them all to see what they have in common, and you'll start to see some patterns emerging. Ask yourself what elements you're actually drawn to in each photo. Take the aspects you love and incorporate them into your plans.

Step #3: Determine Each Detail of the Design Up-Front

Now that you know the overall direction you're going and have narrowed down finishes and colours to the ones you're most frequently drawn to, it's time to assemble everything together in one place.

ALL the finishes that will be selected and ordered ahead of time should be looked at together, ideally in the space where they're going to be installed (which means not in the giant overhead fluorescent lighting of the showroom).

When I'm working with a client to select materials, I bring along samples of everything we're considering: flooring, countertops, backsplashes, cabinet colours and more. It's crucial to look at these finishes side by side, in natural light, in order to see the true undertones in all the materials and to make sure they harmonize and bring out the best in each other. Even your favourite colour in the world can look awful if paired with an undertone that makes it look drab, stark or too bright in comparison.

Pro tip: don't just look at your finishes lying flat next to each other. As you narrow down the candidates, hold them in the direction they're going to appear in your home. For example, hold the backsplash tile vertically behind the horizontal countertop, look at the cabinet colour sample vertically below the countertop sample. The angle that light hits a surface affects how it looks!

Step #4: Edit, Assess, Repeat, Finalize...Then Implement

As you test different finishes together, you'll be able to quickly eliminate any combinations that aren't ideal. If you find a particular material that you would really love to incorporate, perhaps a certain beautiful backsplash, prioritize it and only look at colours and finishes that harmonize with that backsplash. Add in samples of hardware and faucets in order to really be able to visualize the overall effect.

Remember, too, that often, less is more. For a spectacular finish to really shine, it needs quieter supporting finishes around it, not another statement finish that will fight for attention. Once my clients have seen how beautiful their final selections look together, they always feel excited and confident that they have the perfect combinations selected for each room.

Waiting to Select Wall Colour

You might have noticed that I haven't emphasized committing to wall paint colours at this stage, and there's a reason for that. Cabinetry colour does need to be finalized at the same time as your other finishes because the order needs to be placed with the cabinetmaker.

The wonderful (and potentially overwhelming- but that's a whole other post) thing about paint colours is that they come in literally thousands of colours. You should have a general idea of the colour direction for the wall, but keep it tentative at this point.

Once area rugs, wallpaper, and fabrics for furnishings have been selected, then it's time to finalize those wall colours. Fabrics come in a more limited palette and rugs even more so, but it's easy to confirm the perfect wall colour to go with them once they've been selected (and when you’re ready for paint, be sure to read about other Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing Wall Colours).

For now, enjoy knowing that you've completed the important first phase of selections for your built-in finishes. Well done!

If you're ready for a pro to help you choose your paint colours & design finishes all at once, I would be honored to help. Reach out and let's chat!



P. S. Want to know more about how a colour consult works? Go to this post to read more


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