Paint Color for your Space

If picking one paint color is tricky, how on earth do you find colors for an entire house? How can you know they will go together? Where do you even begin? Join us as we navigate the process of selecting colors for a whole house, and gather inspiration (and maybe a little courage) to tackle your own walls.

Note which rooms are visible to one another. Walk through your house and note which spaces you can see from each room. Use a floor plan (a rough sketch is fine) to keep track.

Adjoining rooms are part of this, but you may be able to see quite a bit farther — down a hall and into the kitchen, for instance. These notes will form the basis of your whole-house color plan, so keep them close at hand.

Start by picking a color for the biggest, most centrally located room.This will most likely be your living room or kitchen, and it’s a great place to start working on your whole-house palette.

If picking colors has been stressing you out, choosing a soft, neutral hue for the main room will make picking the other colors easier. And you really can’t go wrong with white.

Or start with the room you want to paint the boldest color. If you love color and have a certain hue in mind for a specific room, you can start there instead. Looking out from the bold-hued room, choose a softer, more subdued color for the next rooms. You can, of course, put bold colors next to each other, but that does carry more risk — painter, beware!

Build your palette with shades of the same hue. Once you have a paint color picked for your first room, one simple way to move on is to choose shades of the same hue for adjacent rooms or walls. You can choose a hue from a nearby paint chip, pick the next color up or down on the same paint chip, or even have the same color mixed at the paint store with white added to make a lighter version.

The beauty of this method is that, while it will give your home interest and depth, you also can rest assured that the colors will go well together.

Have a strategy when picking colors for an open space. When much of the house is visible at once, as in the open plan space shown here, picking colors that work together is especially important. Using shades or tints (shades are darker; tints are lighter) of the same hue can work well in this type of space.

Another approach is to use an environment as inspiration for the whole space — we touched on this concept in part two of this series, using the beach as an example. The colors that go well together in nature will also work as paint colors.

Work on upstairs and downstairs spaces separately. If there is a true separation between floors, you can easily create a different mood in the upstairs versus downstairs, rooted in the colors you choose. Plus, focusing on one floor at a time can help keep the task feeling more manageable.

Consider keeping connecting spaces neutral. White, beige, greige and the like are fairly foolproof choices for halls and landings, and they give the eye a place to rest between areas of more saturated color.

On the other hand, if you have decided to stick with white or soft neutrals in your rooms, the halls and landings can be a great place to experiment with a richer hue. It doesn’t need to be a big departure from the other colors you are using — just a shade or two darker is enough to make an impact.

Test your potential palette. As you narrow down your color choices and think you may have some winners, bring home test pots of paint. Sample cards, even the big ones, can be deceptive.

Painting your own swatches will allow you to assess each color in the room it’s meant for and check that the colors in visually linked spaces work together.

Hanging Objects on Walls

How to Fasten a Picture Frame (or Almost Anything Else) to a Wall

When you go to hang something on your wall, you’re worrying about two things; (1) minimizing the number and size of holes in your wall, and (2) being sure whatever you’re hanging doesn’t fall off the wall some day.

hanging objects on wall

What makes it complicated is determining what type of fastener to use, and trying figure out if you really need to find a stud for your fastener or not. So let’s uncomplicate it.

For the most part, you don’t need to find a stud unless you’re hanging something over 50 lbs. (and in some cases things that people are going to be pulling on such as a handrail or grab bar.)

Oops. Missed the Stud

To find a stud, everyone tells you to tap the wall listening for the sound of a stud or to buy a stud finder. These methods work for many people some of the time. That leaves a lot of times you’ve just driven a nail into the wall expecting to find a stud and didn’t.

When that happens, the first thing to get over is your guilt about making little holes in the wall. They fill in easily with spackling, and most are going to be hidden behind what you’re hanging anyway.

With that in mind, you can find your reclusive stud by moving three-quarters of an inch to one side and driving the nail again. If you don’t hit it, alternate sides and continue driving the nail at three-quarter inch intervals until you hit the stud.

(Yes, you’ll have a series of holes in the wall, but you already had one hole you were going to have to patch. You can patch a dozen more just as easily as one.)

To be sure you haven’t pinpointed the edge of the stud instead of the center, drive one more hole three-quarters of an inch further over. If you don’t hit anything, the previous hole is probably centered on the stud. If you do hit the stud again on the second hole, mark the center of the stud between the two holes.

When you’re fastening into studs, favor screws over nails. Screws can be easily removed when needed whereas removing nails from studs later may cause additional wall damage.

Now, when hanging something 50 lbs or lighter, your fastener choice is determined primarily by the item’s weight.

Lightweight Items

Take for example a small photograph or painting 12 inches by 12 inches or smaller. This often weighs just a few pounds. You can usually get away with a small nail or screw fastened into the wall at a downward angle, as long as it’s not wobbly after you set it. You can also use a picture hanger, which simply adds a strip of metal bent into a hook-shape held by a similar nail.

For those lightweight items, don’t go overboard using plastic wall anchors. You’re just needlessly making larger holes to patch later. Though patching is easy, patches over larger anchor holes tend to be more obvious after painting than patches over smaller nail or screw holes.

Bigger Frames or Heavier Items

If what you’re hanging is 5 to 25 lbs, plastic hollow wall anchors are usually fine. One type requires you to drill a slightly smaller hole in the wall to hammer the anchor into, and one type actually screws itself into ordinary drywall.

If you use the anchor type that requires you to pre-drill a hole, don’t make the hole too large or you’re going to be hanging your picture an inch off in a different direction because the anchor fell out of its hole. The self-drilling type is generally stronger and more fail-safe in installation.

Hint: Once in a while, you’re going to hit a stud where you intended to put your hollow wall anchor. When that happens, forget the anchor and just fasten a screw directly into the stud.

Even Bigger or Heavier

Between 25 and 50 pounds, you should be looking at rated fasteners that advertise how much weight they can hold. Large, self-drilling plastic anchors and some picture-hanging systems are up to the task.

As for the “butterfly” type hollow wall anchors that have a clip that springs open after it’s pushed into the wall, use these if you’re comfortable with them. They require large holes and some care in installation. As an alternative, the self-drilling plastic anchors can usually match them in holding power and are a lot easier and faster to install.

Wall Types

Whether your walls are drywall or plaster will make a small difference in your fastener selection if you’re not anchoring directly into a stud. Plaster walls are often up to an inch thick because they have a thin gypsum board or wood lath backing, while drywall is only one-half to five-eighths inch thick. Though you might get away with a one-inch screw into a stud behind drywall, that short of a screw will never reach the stud through a plaster wall.

Sometimes you might drive a screw into the wood lath plaster backing and think it’s a stud. If you really need to find a stud, don’t be fooled. But a screw fastened to the wood lath usually has better holding power than a screw supported only by plaster or drywall.

Sometimes old plaster is dry and brittle and crumbles when you try to use nails, screws, or plastic anchors. This is when the “butterfly” type hollow wall anchors are best.

Get Over Making Holes

If making extra holes really freaks you (or someone else in your household) out, take a hammer, nail and a little spackling into your closet. Drive a couple of holes where no one will see them, then touch them up with the spackling. If you have light colored walls, you’ll be amazed by how effectively they disappear.

If you have darker accent colors, be prepared to dab a little touch up paint over your spackling. If you use a fine art brush and just hit the spackling with it, it will be barely noticeable and you won’t end up repainting the entire wall.

And that’s what you were really worrying about all along, wasn’t it?