Paint Paralysis


From time to time you can stumble across me sitting on the floor of a nearly empty room, alone, staring at the walls. That I have yet to have me admitted is quite a miracle. Clinically Psychotic? Yet to be determined. A raging perfectionist? Undeniably! 

Admittedly, choosing a paint palette for my own home felt impossibly daunting. Committing to a paint color paralyzed me. If you missed part one of my horrific home buying experience, you can catch up. Panicking? On your third bottle of Rose? No judgement. It’s nearly impossible to know for certain if you will love (or hate) a color until it’s actually on your walls.

Rather than embracing paralysis, I wanted to share a few tips from a designer’s perspective. The best advice I can give is this:

Carolina Herrera's New York Home - Harper's Bazaar 

Carolina Herrera's New York Home - Harper's Bazaar 

1. Choosing a paint color should be the last decision you make. 

Let me say that again (because this is impossibly important). If you hear nothing else, hear this - choosing a paint color should be the last decision you make. It’s much easier to pair down color swatches to  compliment your freshly framed Matisse print, or your Oushak rug, your newly reupholstered sofa, or the expensive custom window treatment you committed to.

The rug is an investment, the can of paint is not. It’s inexpensive. Less than a month’s supply of La Croix.

I’ve done the math. 

2. Start with elements less flexible - more expensive - than a can of paint. 

I beg you. Consider the fixed elements of your home. Hardwood floors. Interior brick or stone. Exposed beams. If you’re starting from scratch, decide on a mood or a tone, but hold off on selecting a specific hue until you’ve purchased your investment pieces.

Lauren Santo Domingo's Paris Apartment - Vogue

Lauren Santo Domingo's Paris Apartment - Vogue

3. Trust yourself. A color looks good if you like it. Most of the time. 

What are you instinctively drawn towards, aesthetically? For years, I have ripped pages from Architectural Digest, Veranda, and Southern Living. I have collected file folder after file folder of inspiration, neatly tucked away in one ominous Oak filing cabinet against a wall in my basement.

Nearly every page (there are a few exceptions) depicts a neutral paint palette.

Neutral does NOT equate to boring. After a glass or two of champagne I could talk your ear off with all the reasons why. The thing is, there is no wrong answer. If you’re most comfortable with soft, pale colors - start there. Love minimalistic clean lines? Curate a couple of neutral options. Possibly you adore rich and sophisticated deep hues.

Go for it. 

Pro tip: more often than not, the deeper shades should be reserved for rooms “deeper” within your home, not the other way around. 

4. Embrace your inner kindergartener.

Go to Target and purchase a couple pieces of foam board. Foam board - not poster board. The structure is key! Paint each one with a varying color (your finalists), prop them against your walls... and wait. I would recommend rotating them.

Use your great grandmother’s secretary as a ledge, throw them in the corner of the room that gets nearly no natural light, prop one up behind a floor lamp. It could be the most fabulous truffle-esqe shade under those charming fluorescent lights at Lowe's, but in your dining room, it looks… less than ideal.

Edie Parker's Conneticut Home - One Kings Lane

Edie Parker's Conneticut Home - One Kings Lane

Still on the fence?

Sometimes all you need is an outside, unbiased opinion. I’m happy to help, as long as you don’t choose anything tacky.

FaceTime me.