peeling away the pain of choosing colors

October 11, 2011 – Crash colour course


Expert insider tips on using colour to improve the look and feel of your home.

Last week a goddess came to my house. Teetering in high-heels and a pencil skirt, and hauling an overnight bag filled with paint swatches, Mia materialised at my door not long after I filled in an online form for painting desperadoes. She was like a safety beacon bobbing about in an ocean of low-sheen, low-VOC pigment.

It all began a couple of weeks ago when we decided to paint the back wall. Searching for colours that could work, I happened upon this very stylish reno, featured on Grand Designs. But the grey that looks so classy on that lovely weatherboard mysteriously morphed on my 1950s brick, ahem, beauty into something more like the lint filter from the washing machine had been emptied and smeared all over the back wall. And washing machine water wasn’t quite the effect I had been expecting.

From bad experiences past I could see instantly that getting the right colour could involve many trips to the hardware store, oodles of sample pots and a fair few dollars too. Or it could mean consulting an expert – at a cost of less than $150. I’m always a bit skeptical about booking anything through a paint company (or any other manufacturer) – because obviously they are going to be pushing their own products and you already get beaten about the ears enough these days by people trying to sell you things.

But from the moment Mia arrived, my worries disappeared. Not only did she advise on the back wall, but the front wall, the garage and also ways to disguise some of the uglies – the inherited roller shutters (dead awful looking, but I have come to love them for their instant privacy and thermal control) and numerous downpipes – which, thanks to having a rainwater tank and wanting to flush off the first batch of water from roof each time, we have double the number of.

And who knew that on the rear of houses, you are sometimes better to paint everything the same colour – walls, window frames and eave linings, and then accent it with pots, wall art of whatever other pretties you prefer.

Spying our ageing kitchen – which is ’50s style with a charming ’70s wood-grain look makeover, Mia asked how long it was staying. When the answer came back “two or three years”, she whipped out her paint chart again and recommended a spot-on colour to bring it up to scratch. “A weekend’s work and you’ll be able to live with it a lot more easily,” she said, knowingly. “This colour will really make those doors pop.”

The truly nice thing was that the advice didn’t stop there. Because she was booked to stay with me for an hour, Mia was able to help out with where we should place certain pictures, and what we should do with the front fence we’re planning. Woodland grey for rendered brick but white for pickets, she advised. But don’t go decorative pickets, stick with square. And should I use a timber or metal wheelie bin covers? Given the style of the house, definitely metal, and painted, she offered (and not just because she was representing a paint company).
The biggest plus out of the whole thing was that picking paint colours usually results in a fair few “discussions” in our house, some of them not so calm. And because Mia was so spot on, there has been none of that.

If you don’t feel like calling a professional but aren’t quite sure what paint colours would suit, there is also a wealth of online forums where people post pictures of their rooms or even whole homes and put them out there to the blogosphere for opinion and votes. Painting by numbers, if you like.

It might not be quite as good as having someone come to your home to assess the light conditions and surrounds, but it’s certainly worth a try.

Talking Property

Carolyn Boyd is a property journalist and keen follower of Australia’s housing market.

This article, was published within the The Age Newspaper.

Black book

October 19, 2014 – Sunday Mail


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