Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tips #2 - How to use paint tester pots most effectively

We spoke to our lovely landlady the other day and have gotten permission to re-paint. Hurrah! As you can imagine we hurried out to the nearest hardware store and bought tester pots of all the paint colours we had narrowed down and brought them home. It was only when I turned my back on the Big Guy for 2 minutes and came back to find him about to paint a big square on the kitchen wall that I realised not everyone knows my hand-dandy way of making the best use of your tester pots. I don't care if you've seen squares painted on walls on 1,000's of home improvement is not the way to use testers.

This is especially true is you're planning to paint over a surface that is dark in colour. Take our chimney wall in the sitting-room for example. It is currently a dark blood red. To really check out the new colour we're considering for that wall (Fleetwood Paints Mystery Green) we would need to first paint a white square, and then paint the green over it to get an accurate idea of it's true colour (painting green straight over to red would cause it to look more brown than it really is, and the green we have chosen already has quite brown/yellow undertones). That seems like a lot of work for a colour that you might not like, am I right?

The other problem with painting all the squares is that you're now committed to painting, and painting soon. What happens if you paint a big blue square in the middle of your cream wall and then decide that actually you'd prefer to stick with the colour that you currently have? Oops! You're going to be repainting that room now anyway, aren't you? Yup, we've all been there, and I've made this mistake many times myself. A few years ago I decided I wasn't painting anymore samples onto the walls and instead came up with the following system:

You will need:
Your tester paint pots (and brushes if they don't come with built-in ones in the lids)
As many sheets of white A4 paper as you have paint samples
A pencil/pen

Paint each of your A4 sheets in one of your chosen paint samples. Write the name of the paint on the end of the page (this is especially helpful if you're choosing between several shades of the same colour). Wait for the paint to dry. Paint a second layer on each sheet. Leave to dry.

Voila! You now have handy sheets that can be moved from wall to wall, or even room to room, so you can see how you like the colour without having to commit to it, or to painting. Since the paper sheets are white it will give you a true representation of that colour. The fact that you can move the sheets is the best thing about this system though.

Take our sitting-room (again). With only 1 main source of natural light the painting a square on a wall opposite the window will give us an idea of what that wall would look like painted. Say we then pick a dark cream colour (we haven't, but just for the sake of the example). Now painting the whole room cream would mean that we'd discover (too late) that the darker walls (the wall the window is in, the farthest corner from the window etc) would actually show that dark cream colour as a light brown. That's fine is you want light brown walls, but not if you were aiming for cream! Being able to move the painted sheets from wall to wall means that you can see if you need to go a shade lighter, or darker, with your chosen colour before you actually paint the entire room.

So there you have it. If you're all interested in what colours we have decided to go for so far they are as follows:
Sitting-room: 3 walls - Dulux Light & Space Gentle Blossom, chimney wall and alcoves - Fleetwood Mystery Green
Hall and stairs: Dulux Light & Space Gentle Blossom
Kitchen/diner: Dulux Light & Space Gentle Blossom, diner feature wall - wide stripe of Dulux Vinyl Matt Paprika
Master bedroom: 3 walls - Dulux Light & Space Gentle Blossom, feature wall - Dulux Vinyl Matt Pale Peacock
Guest bedroom: 3 walls - Dulux Light & Space Gentle Blossom, feature wall - Dulux Easycare Sweet Damson

Still have to decide colours for the porch, loo, bathroom, ensuite and boxroom. As you can see we're using Gentle Blossom throughout the entire house as our base colour. It's a really lovely soft white that has sat well with any of the richer feature colours we've thrown up beside it and due to the house being so small we decided it would make the spaces seem larger, and flow together more cohesively if we had one neutral colour running throughout the whole house. We'll also be painting the ceilings this colour to further add to this feeling of seamless-ness.

Have you ever felt boxed in by the samples of paint that you've put on your walls? Do you have an even better sample array for me to try (we're still looking for colours for the other rooms remember!)? What's your favourite base neutral for your home? Let me know in the comments! :-)


  1. The one base colour throughout the house is a great idea! We got the go-ahead to repaint our rented house a few months ago, and I currently have one big square of yellow in the hallway - although thankfully I like it so it won't be a problem painting over.
    It's so exciting to get to paint your house and nothing is more freeing than getting rid of all that magnolia! I hope you enjoy it.

    1. I can't wait to paint Sarah, I'm sure you know what it's like. Rental properties and "The Dreaded Magnolia" are the bane of my existence, especially having never actually lived with magnolia before.
      I love yellow halls! I know my Mum has 3/4's of a tin of Light & Space Sunrise Yellow at home and I'm hoping to nab it for our front porch/entryway to add a bit of sunshine to our comings and goings :-)