You want to paint but where to start Design Tribe Online Interior Design

You Want to Paint, but Where to Start?

In Design Planning, How To Guide, Interior Design, Residential Design, Wall Finishes by Gail Mayhugh

Christina Toole Sr Interior Designer

By Gail Mayhugh,
Sr. Interior Designer
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If you want to paint your home, but aren't sure where to start - start here.

If you’re living with your builder white walls, it’s time to step up and add some color, even if it’s just a neutral color from your flooring. Before you head out to the paint store, literally looking at a thousand colors, stop and make a plan.

Some things to consider are:

  1. What color family are your fixed items in? Such as flooring, counters, and cabinets.
  2. What do you want to draw attention to? Do you have a fireplace, a gorgeous view out of your window, or an amazing piece of artwork?
  3. What about architectural features? Do you have niches, columns or coffer ceilings?
  4. Are you concerned you’d tire of a color?
  5. Are you planning on buying any investment pieces of furniture? If you are, it’s best to have them before selecting any paint.
  6. Do you have a favorite color? It should be part of your plan, but possibly not the main paint color. You have to make sure it works with the elements in your room.

YOU WANT TO PAINT BUT WHERE TO START design tribe online interior design


With your plan in hand, now you’re ready to head out to your favorite paint store.  Bring along any fabric samples and pictures of the room.  This way a paint consultant can help you.

To help narrow down your choices, match each color that is already in your room to a sample. Look at these colors and see which ones you’re most strongly drawn to.  Then you can use that exact color or go lighter or darker on the color strip.  If you want a contrast in color, you need to go at least two tones apart, otherwise, they’ll appear the same.  Remember, you do not have to paint all of the walls the same color.  Think of those accent areas, architectural features and focal walls you have.


It’s also important to have a continuous and harmonious flow from room to room, especially those that are open to each other.  These rooms need to have a common theme, mood, and style, along with the color scheme.

Look at your architectural details for natural breakpoints and areas where you can change paint colors.  It’s always best to stop a color in a corner.  The only time I may not stop in a corner, is when the edges of the walls are square. I highly advise you not to stop a color on a rounded corner.  Getting a straight line is near impossible. But if ending in a corner is not going to work for you, stop it before the rounded corner.   

"It’s important to have a continuous and harmonious flow from room to room, especially those that are open to each other. " Gail Mayhugh

Appreciate what you have and redesign. Work with what you already have in your home until you have the time and money to buy new. Very few people have the time or money to completely redo everything. Using what you have to the best advantage allows you to enjoy your home and plan your purchases. Plus, you’ll be less likely to impulse buy and overspend.

Another area to consider is your ceilings. By painting your ceilings, you are decorating each dimension of your room: floors, walls, windows, furnishings and the ceiling.  Contrary to what most people think, painting ceilings can make a room look larger.  If you’re painting your walls a lighter color, by painting your ceiling the same color, it will lift the ceiling and visually expand the space.  When you eliminate the line between your wall color and ceiling, your eyes don’t stop at the top of your wall but continue onto the ceiling and around the room.  I have no problem painting a seven or eight-foot ceiling the same color as the walls.  And if you have white crown moulding, please paint the ceiling something other than white.  Crown moulding is an investment you want to see.


If you want to paint your home but arent sure where to start start her Design Tribe Online Interior Design

If you’re concerned about tiring of a color, a simple solution is to paint the small accent areas in a room. When you’re ready for a change, you won’t have a large area to re-paint. A couple of good places are niches, back of an open built-in, the end of a hallway, above or below a chair rail or any other architectural feature your home may have. If you don’t have a full backsplash in your kitchen, it’s a great place for that pop of color. Just make sure it works with your counter and cabinets.

Don’t be afraid to bring color into your home with paint and give it that needed facelift.

If you are ready to tackle your design project, and would like help from a professional Interior Designer, please feel free to reach out.



Gail Mayhugh is a Certified Interior Designer and Color Expert and received her interior design education from the Interior Design Institute in 1992. Since then she has run a successful interior design and architectural color consulting firm, working with over 2,000 clients, both nationally and internationally on over 6,000,000 square feet. Consulting on design and architectural color decisions for both interiors and exteriors, Gail collaborates with homeowners, business owners, property managers, architects, painters, contractors, builders, realtors and homeowner associations.

Areas of Specialty:
Residential Design
Color Consultation
Real Estate Staging

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