Spending more time at home has strongly affected how homeowners feel about their paint choices.
“People are definitely ready for a change! They’ve been staring at the same walls for months now, and I think they’re ready to start stepping out of their comfort zones a little bit in terms of color,” said Sarabeth Asaff, home design expert at Fixr and a former interior designer.
After several years of boosting gray, 54% of design experts are now promoting earthy and warmer neutral tones, according to Fixr’s 2021 Paint and Color Trends report.
“People are moving to earth tones and earth-inspired tones like greens, browns, rusts and tans,” Asaff said. “Colors inspired by nature have a calming effect that can reduce stress. We all need a little less stress right now.”
Two of the most popular new paint colors are Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal and Sherwin Williams’ Urbane Bronze, according to the report.
Choosing a new wall color is a relatively inexpensive way to update a room, but it can be a challenge to determine what will work best. A quick stop at the local paint or hardware store can yield a fistful of paint swatches, but those little squares of color don’t easily translate to wall size.
“Those things are so tiny,” Asaff said.
If your samples include paint strips it’s helpful to understand a bit about color theory, she said.
“Every color has a ‘true’ shade. Then you can add a little white or a little black and go up or down the gradient scale. Many of those swatches are simply gradients of one color. It’s the same color, just lightened or darkened a little,” Asaff said. “From there, you start going tertiary, adding a little red, yellow or blue to each shade and moving it up and down the gradient scale.”
When starting a new paint project, first consider what overall effect you’re trying to attain.
“Do you want something neutral? Something subtle? Something dramatic? This alone can narrow down things a lot,” Asaff said.
Look at what’s already in the room and is staying.
“This should be your first step though, not your last. Unless you plan on redecorating, you need to work these things into your paint choice from minute one,” Asaff said.
Before visiting the paint store have a general idea of color in mind, but don’t feel confined by it, Asaff said. Grab a few swatches in shades of that color, and think about the overall effect you’re trying to achieve.
Start with paint swatches, but don’t end there. Narrow down possible choices before buying paint samples, and then pick up some poster board, Asaff said.
“Paint the poster board, not your wall. Now, move the board around the room. Look at it in sunlight, in shade, at night, on a rainy day. See how it looks on all walls,” she said.
Apply at least two coats to see how the paint will truly look on your wall.
Another trick is to paint half the poster board one color and the other half another to see how they compare, Asaff said.
Lastly, consider sheen, which impacts how easy the paint is to clean and how much it reflects light, she said. Paint with a flatter sheen is harder to clean. The glossier the sheen, the more it reflects light.
“Paint is not permanent. You aren’t making a mistake if you go big and bold on one wall. It can always be painted over later if you find you get tired of it,” Asaff said.