Painting your house? A style expert’s advice on color, trim and painting trends

Home & Garden

By , The Washington Post

Style expert and Washington Post design columnist Elizabeth Mayhew joined staff writer Jura Koncius last week on The Washington Post’s Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: I need to repaint my front door. It’s been painted a flat black to match the rest of the trim on the house, but it gets really scratched up. Is there a solution that doesn’t involve me repainting the house trim?

A: Would you consider going shiny with your front door? Think of doors you see in Georgetown, Paris and London. The paint, if applied appropriately, will not scratch, and it will be super chic. You need to check out Fine Paints of Europe — really the only paint that is going to give you that high-gloss look.

Q: I live in a 15-year-old house, and at the time we built it, off-white trim was lovely. Now, it seems dated. How do I marry today’s color schemes with ivory Duron paint? I can’t repaint all of this trim, bead board, etc. I’d love to paint the walls Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter and also want to paint the maple/caramel kitchen cabinets, but I am stuck.

A: I hear you, and I, too, am a Revere Pewter fan. (It’s actually the color of one of the rooms in my house.) I think you will be fine if you spruce up the walls in more up-to-date hues (like grays). Also, there is no rule against marrying white with ivory — the two colors look beautiful together. In my own bathroom I have ivory-ish tiles, so to give them a lift, I painted the walls in alternating horizontal stripes of ivory and white; it looks chic and modern.

Q: On Pinterest, I’m seeing high-gloss white paint for ceilings. I love it, but my painter says no. I suspect he doesn’t want to do it because it requires an imperfection-free surface. Thoughts?

A: I agree with your painter. Your ceilings need to be in pristine condition for a high-gloss paint. The same would be true of your walls if you wanted them to have a lacquered finish. The problem with high-gloss paint is that it shows all imperfections. If you have crown molding, you can paint it a glossy white. That will at least give a pop to your ceiling.

Q: We are looking to paint our gender-neutral nursery, which will be furnished with white furniture. The nursery doesn’t get a ton of natural light, so we wanted to pick a warm and light color. Our son’s room is green, so we were thinking a shade of yellow for the new baby. Any suggestions for a warm yellow that’s not overpowering would be much appreciated.

A: I would steer you away from yellow. It’s not that I don’t like it. I just think that unless it’s a sunny saturated tone, people don’t look good in it. How about a really pretty shade of light blue? My favorite is Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light. It looks amazing with any color — lavender, red, navy and yellow, too. You don’t need to spring for F&B; you can have it color-matched at just about any paint store. The amazing thing about the color is its depth; it has so many nuances and reacts to rooms with natural light and rooms with no natural light. Blues, like greens, are true colors of nature (think sky and grass), so they look good with everything.

Q: I have beige walls from 2007 that need updating. The rooms have high ceilings, seven-foot double-hung windows and hardwood floors, with ornate walnut crown molding, window and door frames, and baseboards. I know that gray is more popular than beige with home buyers, but I wonder how it would look with the walnut trim? I painted the north-facing kitchen a neutral with orange undertones to pick up the Saltillo tile, and it really warmed up the room.

A: Your house sounds amazing. I promise you that gray would be perfect. My favorite go-to shade is Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl. It is an almost foolproof color.

Q: I’m remodeling my kitchen, and my designer strongly suggested painting my maple cabinets. The floors are wood, and the kitchen has a 1980s look, so bringing the room up to date is the goal (for resale). Any advice?

A: I agree with your designer: Natural wood cabinets are not in these days. I would love to know the color of your backsplash or any tile in the room to help inform my recommendations. You can never go wrong with white, but gray is very in right now, too. It gives kitchens a pretty Swedish look. One hue I really like is Benjamin Moore’s Coventry Gray. Try a little swatch and see what you think!

Q: I’m planning to paint two bathrooms: one a half-bath downstairs with a window and the other a master bath in the center of the house without any windows. I was considering a sage green, but are there problems with that for the windowless bathroom? What about painting the ceiling a bright white instead of the antique white that is there right now?

A: I would not worry about the sage green in a darker room. Small, dark, windowless rooms can look very chic, inviting and dramatic. I have a windowless powder room in my house that I painted Benjamin Moore’s Gentleman’s Gray (it’s a peacock-y sort of dark blue). Everyone comments on how much they love it. I painted the ceiling and the trim in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator White, which is chalky and very white, so it gives the room a pop. Another idea, if the walls are in good condition, is to paint the darker bathroom in a high-gloss finish, which will reflect the light and make the room sparkle.

Q: Our new home has hideous snakeskin wallpaper in the powder room. Can this be painted over, or must it be removed?

A: It might take a little elbow grease, but you can paint over the wallpaper. First you’ll have to sand down the seams of the wallpaper, then apply a coat of oil-based primer. This will help seal the adhesive within the paper and keep it from the moisture in the paint. Then paint. You can also consider covering the paper in a peel-and-stick wallpaper. It’s easy to apply, and my guess is that it would stick onto your existing walls.

Q: I have an old Craftsman house with dark walnut trim in the living room and dining room (ceiling beams, windows and cabinetry) and dark stained floors. The two rooms are connected and together are rather large, but the room tends to be dim. The walls are an age-darkened antique white. I want to repaint the walls in a nice, clean white that will lighten things up, but I’m afraid of the effect being too institutional. Would you recommend a grayish or pinkish white or something else entirely?

A: I wish I could tell you that there was one miracle white, but so much depends on the natural light your rooms are exposed to, where you live and what your rooms look like. That being said, I have two go-to whites that have pretty much never let me down: Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White and Pratt & Lambert’s Seed Pearl. Decorator’s White has a grayish tone that reminds me of white cake icing (not buttercream, but grocery store cake icing that’s probably made with lard). Seed Pearl has all of the varied tones of a pearl; sometimes it takes a pink cast, sometimes a green cast and sometimes a blue cast.

Q: Our master bedroom has high ceilings with a loft. There is lots of sunlight from dormers and skylights. Would Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White be a good choice for this space?

A: I would try it. It really just depends on what is around your windows. For example, if there are lots of trees, any white will pick up the green tones.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/18/color-trim-painting-trends-home-decorating/

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