The Color Consultant

Photo: Danny Kim

Where does one start when staring down a wall of paint chips at the hardware store?
Don’t base your decision on those alone. You have to take it home. Unless you decorate your apartment with giant fluorescent tubes, the color is going to look very different.

A paint sample seems like a safer bet.
Lots of paint manufacturers produce little pots or large painted cards. I always test my colors right on my wall, and try to live with it for 24 hours. I want to see how it looks at night or in different lamplight.

Are New Yorkers adventurous with their color choices?
There was a period when people went for tasteful, tranquil “nothing” colors, like greige and lots of white. Now people are saying, “Let’s get something going on in here. Let’s make it interesting.” If I suggest a pink ceiling, they’ll say, “Yes! That’s cool.” Ten years ago, people weren’t really game for that.

What if you have a fear of color commitment?
Put bold colors inside your closet. Say Hermès orange is your favorite color, but you can’t paint your entire living room because it’ll be too powerful. Put it in your closet. Bang! You get a dose of it every day.

What’s the deal with finishes?
The shinier they are, the less forgiving. If you have bumpy walls, use the flattest-finish paint. That’s what I recommend for ceilings. High shine requires lots of preparation to make it look fabulous, so start with clean, dust-free surfaces, and fill all the cracks. Use a paint with a resilient surface for things that get handled often, like doors and cabinets.

Is cheap paint just as good as the pricier stuff?
The price generally reflects the quality of the ingredients. Pony up and buy the good stuff. This is especially true if you own and don’t rent.

Invest in Great Tools

“If you use good paint, you need a good brush. I like Purdy’s 2.5-inch nylon-bristle brush. I’ve been using it for twenty years.”
Illustration by Kate Francis

The Color Consultant