Tips on Choosing Your Color Palette

There are so many reasons to paint and benefits to experience from freshening up your surroundings, to repurposing a space, to a color change, the list goes on and on.  As I sit down to write this my kitchen is in the process of being painted and I want to focus on one of the benefits I've already experienced- decluttering.

Declutter- We've all experienced the calm, motivated feeling we get from a clean, organized space.  It's such a sought after experience that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, became a national obsession and #1 National New York Times best seller. The first few years that Steve and I were together we moved a few times (twice 1100 miles) so we got pretty good about paring down. But for the past 11 years we have been in the same house and haven't made it a point to declutter as aggressively, especially in the kitchen where so many things are behind closed cabinets doors. (Admittedly, I don't like to spend much time in the kitchen so my normal decluttering has pretty much been reserved to bedroom closets and our offices.)

Because we are fully repainting the kitchen (inside and outside of cabinets, walls, ceilings, doors, trim and baseboard)  I had to go through every single thing in my kitchen. This sounds like a chore but after all these years with a red kitchen I was up for the challenge and for purging, quickly and decisively!  I made 4 categories- selling, keeping, donating and trashing. 

Nothing can make or break your kitchen quite like the cabinets. Many people don't realize that it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Using paint you can update and refresh your cabinets for a fraction of what replacing them would cost.  Below are a variety of some of the cabinet work we have done.





Classic white cabinets in this 1960's home for sale gave a crisp and clean look. This was part of a complete repaint that led to a fast sell for this homeowner who got their asking price



Originally all of these cabinets were painted a terracotta color. This homeowner wanted a change so the main cabinets were painted a brown color, antiqued with a glaze and finished with a clear coat. The island was painted a southwestern red, glazed and finished with a clear coat.


Here are some of my highlights in these categories:

Selling- the only thing that made it into this pile was my grandmother's Guardian Service Cookware set from the 1940's. I have had it for years when my mom who is OCD about purging gave it to me. (She knows I am a bit more sentimental.) Here's the thing though, I've kept this 6 piece set taking up room and not used it once. So it's gotta go. Sorry grandma, I've seen these on ebay selling for a pretty penny.

Keeping- My mom and dad's china. Not only am I keeping it but I'm going one step better; we are going to use it as our everyday dinnerware. Why not? All that is going to happen to it is some lucky (or unlucky) person will inherit all our stuff and have to take it all to goodwill. That china is only meaningful to me so I'm going to enjoy it and donate our regular plates and bowls to a thrift store so someone else can benefit.

Donating- Also in the donation BOXES are about 50 coffee mugs. Why do we have so many?

Trashing-  All the cups that came with the first Magic Bullet we bought. (We’ve upgraded twice since then, but kept the cups and lids that only fit the original.) All the honey packets that come with takeout (sopapillas) and about 20 plastic ware sets (the nicer ones) which made sense when I used to pack my lunch and didn't want to bring silverware from home. But yeah, it has been 5 years since I worked outside of my home.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you how energized I have been the past couple of days as I watch the progress take place in my kitchen. All the hard but satisfying decluttering work is done, my color palette is coming to life and all that is left for me to do when the crew finishes the painting is to put minimal stuff away, decorate and redesign my "new" kitchen.
You too can experience this fresh start! Just don't wait 11 years like I did. Not only because you definitely need to declutter before then, but painting is best done every 5 years to keep the walls looking fresh and updated.  If you are ready, we are here to help with painting, color consulting and redesign services. I promise the calm, clear motivation that you'll find is worth your investment. 

This beautiful off white cabinet door with a glaze started out as a golden oak cabinet. The homeowners were thrilled they could have a high end look with just paint and our artistic ability.



2. You've got a lot of color.  While the home magazines and paint stores show off rooms beautifully decorated and saturated in color, choosing and loving those colors is a very personal experience. A potential buyer may not be able to see beyond the colors you've chosen and if their furniture or style doesn't match, they may not be able to overlook and see your home as one they could comfortably live in. 

3.The exterior is showing signs of environmental damage. It's not just about curbside appeal (although that is super important) but once your exterior paint starts to peel or chip or your wood work starts to dull and gray, you've had some damage from the elements. The longer that area goes without fresh paint or stain, the more damaging it can get, to the point where you may need to replace some wood. Potential buyers see that as a red flag that you didn't take good care of the home and that they may need to invest more money to get it up to par. It's human nature to assume if you didn't take good care of one thing, then overall you may not have taken good care of anything. That may not be true at all but why give that impression?

Top 3 paint tips to getting a return on your investment:

1.Stick with whites or neutrals. A clean slate makes it easy for a potential buyer to visualize their furnishings and style in your home. There are still many whites and neutrals to choose from that it doesn't have to be stark white or lack character or style. The safest bet when choosing a white or neutral is to make sure the undertone of the chosen paint color matches the undertone(s) of the fixed elements that are staying like flooring and cabinets.

 2. Be strategic with sheen. Flat and matte finishes hide imperfections. So if your walls aren't perfect (and most aren't) don't draw attention to them with shinier finishes. For more information on how to choose sheen see our blog below, Choosing Paint Sheen.

3. Get a professional opinion and a professional paint job. Check with your realtor or a professional painter like us who has experience with what should be done and the most cost effective ways to do it without compromising quality. The benefits of hiring a professional painter who is licensed, bonded and insured, far outweigh the savings you may have by doing it yourself or hiring an amateur. We receive calls from people who start a house painting project thinking it is going to be a breeze and find it is harder than they thought. Or they hire someone who says they can do it and come to find out that person was not qualified or ethical in their business dealings. Having a professional house painter is a wise investment and yields professional results.  

Tanya Otero-Villalobos, Associate Broker, Buyer's Agent for Keller Williams says, "I often see home buyers struggle with the aesthetics of what could be a great home. Specifically paint...they see dingy worn walls or colors that are not pleasing to them and sometimes cannot get past it. I counsel them on what a fresh coat of paint can do to change the overall feeling and make a house, their home. We let sellers know the importance of painting prior to putting their house on the market. Which quite simply, with a nice neutral coat of paint on the walls, can lend to the overall appeal and to a much quicker sale of the house." 

 Whether you are a buyer, a seller, or a realtor, we are happy to talk to you about your painting and color needs to make that house a dream home!

Two  toned cabinets are an exciting way to update your kitchen. These cabinets were painted white and an espresso brown.



The Paint & Color Blog

Should You Paint Before You Sell?

Cabinets are one of our specialties. Your options are endless when it comes to painting your cabinets, so if you are ready for an update, give us a call! We can help you with color selection, placement and painting.

Besides choosing your painter and choosing your colors there is one other consideration that plays an important role in how happy you will be with your paint job. That one thing is sheen.

Here are some guidelines:

Flat or Matte: The least durable and scrub-able sheen but if you want a saturated, velvety wall, a flat finish will make your heart sing. A favorite among designers and painters for the depth of color, this is not the best choice if you have a high traffic area with kids and animals. A matte or flat finish will also hide drywall imperfections better than any other sheen. Rich. Velvety. Saturated. Depth. Conceals.

Eggshell:  One step up from a matte finish, eggshell gives good color saturation and still has a soft look but gives you the ability to wash the wall. If you have kids or animals and will be doing a lot of cleaning this is a good choice. It can be used in the kitchen and the bathroom and withstand moisture and frequent cleaning. Much like the sheen of an eggshell (hence the name), the sheen is so subtle that most times you have to look at the wall from an angle to see it. This is also a favorite among designers and painters. An eggshell finish will show more imperfections than a matte or flat. Subtle Sheen. Soft. Saturated. Washable.

Satin: This sheen has a shine to it, is more durable and can stand up to more traffic and scrubbing. Satin can be used on walls throughout the house, though most frequently in kitchens and baths because of the moisture (satin and higher sheen paints resist moisture far better than paints with less sheen. Although if you have your heart set on the more velvety, soft finish, there are products out there that will give you the wash-ability option in a matte or eggshell finish.) Due to its durability and scrub-ability and because it will hide more imperfections than semi-gloss, we specify satin for doors, trim and baseboards in homes, especially if we are re-painting trim or doors that have been painted before. Light Reflective. Durable. High-Traffic. Scrub-able.

Gloss:  This is the most durable and scrub-able paint sheen. It is also the most reflective which means it will highlight and show every little imperfection. This should be used on walls or ceilings  only if you have a level 5 drywall finish. (A Level 5 finish is perfectly smooth-the highest degree of quality in drywall finishing). Under the right conditions it can be beautiful.  A high-sheen paint reflects light, much like a mirror, making the color seem more vivid and bright. Durable. Scrub-able. Vivid. Bright. Highlights. Reflective.

Semi-Gloss: Because of its durability and scrub- ability, and in high traffic areas such as commercial buildings, we specify semi-gloss for doors and trim.

High Gloss: The most scrub-able and durable finish and the most reflective- like a mirror. It will also highlight every imperfection.

So what sheen should you use? Here are our preferences:

Walls: Flat, matte or eggshell throughout house. Eggshell or satin in bathrooms or kitchens.

Ceilings: Always flat or matte. (Unless in the kitchen or bathroom.) Anything higher than matte will show imperfections.  A shiny ceiling can be beautiful but only if you have a level 5 finish. Side note: You may sometimes see track homes that definitely do not have a level 5 finish and yet the ceilings have a shine to them. This is not something they have done with design in mind; instead this is done because it is more cost effective for the builder to have the painter do the same sheen on both the walls, the ceiling, the doors and the trim. It takes less prep, less time and therefore keeps the costs down.

Trim, baseboard, doors: Satin for residential, semi-gloss for commercial. It is easily cleaned and the light reflectiveness of these finishes highlight the architectural details.

One last thing to note, sheen is not universally exact. Each paint manufacturer differ so be sure to check with your local paint store as you decide what to use. Whether you are choosing colors or choosing sheen, keep in mind the most important rule; you will be the one living with it, so choose what makes you happy! If you would like our professional opinion, give us a call.

PaintSmith Blog Albuquerque Painter

Why You Should Paint More Often

It's the busy season for buying and selling real estate which also means it's a busy season for color consultants and painters preparing houses.  Homeowners and realtors alike recognize the value of investing in a professional paint job. Kim Travascio, Qualifying Broker with Heart Homes, LLC explains, "When clients narrow their home search down, they are going to choose the home that they feel most comfortable in and can visualize living in. A fresh paint job can be the deciding factor for that." Here is what we think you should know from the professionals about painting before you sell.

The top 3 reasons you should paint:

1. If it has been more than 5 years since you painted, your walls are dirtier than you think. We see it time and time again, when your furniture and your wall-hangings are in place, and you are in the home every day, you don't always notice how dingy the walls have become.  As soon as you start decluttering and staging your home to sell, your eyes and the eyes of potential buyers are now focused on the imperfections. It's time for a fresh coat of paint.

Choosing Paint Sheen


Updating Your Kitchen Cabinets

Color and room layout can have a profound effect on your mood, your energy level and your overall life experience. How do you choose your perfect color palette?

While every color consult we do is a little different, here are 5 common things most people don’t give enough consideration to when they are choosing colors.

1. Color Psychology – Think about places you spend a lot of time like your office, your favorite restaurant, your friends home, your home, your gym. What kind of feelings or energy level do you experience? Now think about the surroundings, light, color, furniture. Can you sense a connection between the color and how it affects you? Does it feel cozy? Relaxing? Stimulating? Does it make you feel calm? Productive? Creative? Powerful? Talkative? Sleepy? Energetic? And it’s not just about moods or feelings, it’s physical too. Studies show that blue can actually lower your blood pressure while red increases it.

The place to start with color psychology is to ask yourself what is the purpose of the room? Once you have determined that, you can begin to narrow your color choices down. (Even if you are painting a neutral white, gray, tan or beige, you’ll still have plenty of color uses through your accessories.)

Here are some colors and the possible effects to them:


Next ask yourself if there are there any colors you hate? Blue can create a spa like feeling in your master suite, but if you hate the color blue or associate it with bad memories, clearly it will not affect you in a positive way!

Don’t choose by the color name. Names can be very deceiving. Here is an example of a color consultation I did for a couple who had chosen their own gray but once the color stared going on the wall it turned a blueish gray which was not at all what they had in mind. To get the color they wanted, I chose a color named  Accessible Beige. As you can see this greige appears totally gray on their walls! With beige in the name this wouldn’t have been a color they would have chosen and they would have missed out on exactly what they wanted.

2. Temperature & Undertones- This is a big one that can make or break your look. Your first step is determining if your fixed elements (flooring, countertops, etc.) are warm or cool. You will want to stay in the same temperature in order to have the most harmonious look. Using this photo again as an example, you’ll see the flooring, the wood furniture and the rug are all warm undertones, which is why the original gray they chose didn’t work. It was a cool gray with cool undertones. So although you may think gray is a cool color, like all colors it has a warmer version and a cooler version. You may gravitate towards a cool gray but if your fixed elements are warm, you should opt for a warm gray. The fact that all colors have warm or cool versions is good news because you can still incorporate your favorite color into your palette by choosing the right temperature. For example if these homeowners wanted a blue rug instead of the red, they would just need to choose a warm blue and it’d be gorgeous!

3. Are you painting the ceiling too?
Don’t assume that your white ceiling doesn’t have an undertone. Many times it appears to be pure white but in reality it has a red, yellow, blue or green undertone that isn’t apparent until you paint the walls a new color. Case in point- I had a client who wanted to change their light mocha colored walls to a light gold. Because the walls were mocha, the white of the ceiling appeared white. However, when I held up the 8×11 light gold color chip next to the ceiling, the red undertone was apparent and looked slighty pink. So although the ceiling paint was in really good condition and repainting was going to increase her cost, she wanted the new color so I chose Navajo White which has a yellow undertone (which like the red is indiscernible) and looks just like white on the ceiling.

4. LRV- Light Reflective Value is how much light reflects or absorbs. In other words how dark or how light a room will appear. What kind of look are you trying to achieve? Light, bright and airy? Or dark, cozy and dramatic? The LVR number is 100% for the absolutist blackest and 0% for the lightest. Most people prefer a color somewhere in the 45-55% range. However, you’ll want to take into consideration how much light you get in your room. If it’s a dark room to begin with you may want to go as little lighter and lower on the LRV scale to get the color you really want. Or if the room is already very bright, you would be safe to go a little higher on the LRV scale.

 5. Lastly, do what you like! You are the one who will be living or working in your space so if something makes you feel good but doesn’t follow the “rules”, be a rebel!

Like life, you will be more satisfied if you are surrounded by what makes your heart sing and have flow, harmony and purpose.

If you are still unsure about choosing colors and want to avoid costly mistakes, contact us to schedule a color consultation!