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Interior Designers Swear By This Easy Paint Trick For a Truly Custom Room

Selecting the perfect paint color for your space is both exciting and challenging. It involves a blend of personal style, room lighting, your home's overall aesthetic, and design elements. However, what if, after dedicated exploration at the store and reviewing numerous samples, you still haven't found the exact shade you desire?

The solution? Craft a unique, custom paint color. Most paint stores offer this service, allowing for variations in shade—lighter, darker, or more intense. The possibilities are virtually limitless. Here's what you need to consider before creating your custom mix.

Understanding the Process

Interior designer Amanda Leigh of House of Rolison highlights a common issue: “When shopping for paint, we often notice gaps in available hues.” To achieve your ideal shade, request adjustments in the paint’s intensity, ranging from 1% to 100% either lighter or darker. A 25% darkening, for example, gives just a hint more depth, while 100% creates a significantly darker tone.

This technique is ideal for those who appreciate the subtleties of a particular color but find the standard options insufficient. Sometimes, a color swatch that seems perfect in-store may appear slightly off in your space due to lighting or other factors.

Remember, finding the right shade may require some experimentation. “Our approach is to first narrow our choices to one or two shades, then adjust the intensity to achieve the desired richness and brightness. Room lighting, especially warm light, and natural sunlight can significantly alter a paint color’s appearance. We always test various intensities before making our final selection," explains Leigh.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a few samples, but it’s important to keep in mind, if this is your first time choosing paint or you don’t always feel confident in your design choices, this trick probably isn’t for you. 

Enhancing the Technique

Leigh also tells me if you’re going to darken up your paint, it’s best to use tinted primers that have approximately the same light value as the paint you’re planning to use. She says, “The darker the color, the darker the primer. The tinted primers ensure the paint is also consistent across the surface you’re painting.”

You can also use multiple layers of paint but the designer notes this primer technique is less time-consuming and more affordable because primer is less expensive than paint. Smart!

Alternative Ideas

If adjusting paint shades seems daunting, or if you’re looking to maintain a color theme throughout your home, consider ready-made options like Little Greene’s Color Scales collection. “Our Color Scales collection offers our most popular colors within families of graduated tones, made using the same pigments, but in different strengths," says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. This approach offers the benefits of custom shades without the risks.

This option has all of the rewards without any of the risks. “When choosing three colors of tonal similarity, it’s best to go with three colors that you choose three colors of varying strength. “As a rule, select one light, one mid, and one dark as this will provide immediate contrast. Pick your hero color first. This will be the color that will feature as the ground within your scheme, then choose two colors to use in combination,” she explains. 

Creative Applications

Interior designer Kate Dawson suggests using custom colors for unique effects, like an ombré in nurseries or children's rooms. “Custom gradients are perfect for murals, creating a seamless transition between shades without visible lines,” she explains.

In summary, while selecting the right paint color can be a complex process, customizing your shade offers a personalized solution. Whether through subtle adjustments or exploring ready-made collections, the perfect hue for your space is within reach.  

If you live in the Bothell, WA area and need help with selecting your paint colors, Arclight Painting offers professional color consultation. Even if you don't live in our area, you can also take advantage of a free virtual color consultation option offered online through a partnership with Sherwin Williams. So, don’t hesitate to ask us for help if you aren’t feeling up to the task.


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