Choosing Paint Colors (& Sheens)

Choosing paint colors can be difficult, with so many, many options.  A color that’s exactly what you want on the card in the store can look shockingly different once on the walls in your home.  It’s happened to me several times.  Landing on a not-as-bright-as-the-sun yellow for the guest room (before I repainted it) took at least six sample cans before landing on the right color.


After whittling down the options, we have chosen our winners.  I thought a room by room list of every paint color we’ve might be helpful to anyone looking at paint colors.  First up, let’s talk whites.  More often than not, I go the simple route and pick the most true white I can, since I’m using it on trim.  On walls, you may want a white that looks warmer or cooler, so you’ll need an undertone.  I prefer clean, pure white trim to contrast against my wall color.  Off the shelf, untinted paint is the easiest choice, which we’ve done in every bedroom and bathroom.  In rooms exposed to steam, sticky hands, or high traffic areas and trim, I generally stick with semi gloss paint for easy wiping and cleaning.


In the main areas of the house, including the living/dining rooms, kitchen, family room, and hall, I chose a warm, but light toned gray.  The color is Oyster Pearl by Clark + Kensington, color matched to Behr’s satin paint.


It’s kind of a chameleon of a color, looking warmer in the brighter front rooms, but a little more gray in the north facing kitchen and family rooms.


Sherwin Williams’ Snowbound is my go to tinted white, since it’s bright, clean, but with a slight bit of yellow to keep it from feeling too cool and stark.  The ceiling and kitchen cabinets are all painted this fresh white to balance the darker elements.


Neutrals are almost always my go to, as they create a good base to add other colors in.  For that reason, the main bathroom walls are painted Wood Smoke, by Glidden in a satin finish.  Contrasting color comes in through the vanity, painted Tate Olive by Benjamin Moore in their satin finish.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried what feels like every paint brand out there, but there are still plenty more out there.  Some with better success than others.  Glidden is fine for the upper wall sections and lower traffic areas.  In our guest room, painted Thicket, a Benjamin Moore color, I thought I might change my mind down the road, so I chose to have the color matched to the cheaper Glidden brand.


No sense in spending extra money on better paint in a low traffic, might be repainted room.


When using a cheaper brand of paint, I don’t feel as guilty about possibly painting over it.  Knowing the boys wanted a brighter color in their room (Anjou Pear from Ben Moore), I color matched it in a satin finish.


For the most part, I think eggshell or satin sheens are good for their cleanability.  However, when using dark colors, I feel the color is more chic and pure in a flat finish.  Both our master bedroom and bathroom are Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore.  Wanting to test out flat paint brands, our bathroom is the Ben brand.  I know a flat finish in the bath isn’t typical, but it has proven to be highly wipeable, without a color transference.  Master-Bathroom-Vanity-for-BHG

I read positive reviews of Behr’s flat paint, so I tried it out in the bedroom.  While the color match is great, anything that touches the paint leaves a mark.  Even a simple wipe with a dark, clean, wet rag leaves the wall slightly lighter and discolored.  Kind of a bummer, but it goes to show that a higher priced paint can and does perform better.


Valuable lessons learned, but I haven’t exhausted my options.  As I searched for paint samples for the dark theater/tv basement space, I talked to the Ace Hardware paint guys about their favorite brands.  Ben Moore is their go to, but they also said Valspar’s Optimus line has proven a worthy opponent so I might give it a try.  After I make my color selection, that is.  Currently, the walls are drywalled, primed, and ready for doors and trim.


Initially, I had a dark, nearly black navy in mind for the theater.  Ben picked out a light tan leather reclining sofa, so it’d pair nicely.  The three middle options (from left to right: Midnight, Regent Green, and Stone Cutter) are my favorites.


But then I thought, how pretty would a deep, still nearly black foresty green look?  So I picked up any cards that looked like noble contenders.  Once at home, even the deepest of these didn’t make the cut.


Though these still aren’t quite as dark as I’d like, I think there’s potential.


Particularly with these three, Weather the Storm by Valspar, Vintage Vogue from Benjamin Moore, and Spruce Peak by Clark + Kensington.


I might get a sample or two, test out the options, and maybe have it darkened to retest.  How are there so few super dark green paints?

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