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Making Sure the Paint Tint is Right for a Room

Be bold with your colors, but also be prudent before you buy a gallon.

Photo by Karin Melvin
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Worried about buying the wrong color? According to the University of Massachusetts's Product Stewardship Institute, consumers waste almost $1 billion a year on paint they can't live with, either tossing it or painting over it.

Since colors tend to be about twice as light and bright as what's represented on a paint chip, the pros agree that the surest way to see how a color's going to look is to paint a few swatches on the walls (the bigger, the better).

"The reality is that color will change in different places and under different light conditions," says Josette Buisson, artistic director for Pittsburgh Paints.

To make testing easier, most companies (including Pittsburgh Paints, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, Behr, and Ralph Lauren Paints) now offer sample paints—in 2-ounce to 29.5-ounce sizes—so you can preview the color before you commit.

Buisson suggests painting swatches in a few different spots in the room (preferably over a white wall) and living with it for a day or two to see how the hue wears on you. Then you can more comfortably commit to a can.

painted room
Photo by Karin Melvin
Interior designer Natalie Riesselman used three walls of color throughout
the house shown on these and the following pages. They include a blue-gray
(Sherwin-Williams 6200 Link Gray), a reddish brown (Benjamin Moore HC-64
Townsend Harbor Brown), a buttery yellow (Sherwin-Williams 6387 Compatible
Cream). Millwork and built-ins painted Benjamin Moore White Dove provide
crisp boundaries for the wall colors.

Worried about buying the wrong color? According to the University of Massachusetts's Product Stewardship Institute, consumers waste almost $1 billion a year on paint they can't live with, either tossing it or painting over it.

Since colors tend to be about twice as light and bright as what's represented on a paint chip, the pros agree that the surest way to see how a color's going to look is to paint a few swatches on the walls (the bigger, the better).

"The reality is that color will change in different places and under different light conditions," says Josette Buisson, artistic director for Pittsburgh Paints.

To make testing easier, most companies (including Pittsburgh Paints, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, Behr, and Ralph Lauren Paints) now offer sample paints—in 2-ounce to 29.5-ounce sizes—so you can preview the color before you commit.

Buisson suggests painting swatches in a few different spots in the room (preferably over a white wall) and living with it for a day or two to see how the hue wears on you. Then you can more comfortably commit to a can.

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