The McGraws think boldly about paint

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eliza and Adam McGraw are fearless when it comes to choosing paint colors. Here is their philosophy and some practical advice on selecting colors yourself.

Find colors from your past that inspire you. The McGraws drew from their childhood rooms and every other place they've lived in for the paint colors for their bungalow in the Palisades. Your muse could be a favorite restaurant or a friend's living room. Go to open houses in your neighborhood to help narrow your selections.

Choose trim color carefully. There are hundreds of shades of white. The McGraws' go-to trim paint is Atrium White by Benjamin Moore, a clean, crisp pick.

Never believe you can settle on a color just from a paint chip. Buy a quart or small pot and paint broad swaths of color, inspecting them in sunlight and lamplight. The McGraws test paints in three places in a room before they commit: walls opposite windows, next to windows and going down both sides of a corner.

Try a strong color in your kitchen. It's a good place to make a color statement because the wall space you need to paint is usually very small due to cabinets and appliances. A bold color with white trim frames everything.

Get over your fear of fan decks. If you find Benjamin Moore's Color Preview fan of 1,621 colors overwhelming, go with a brand with a more manageable palette: Farrow & Ball, Restoration Hardware or Stark Paint. Or stick with Benjamin Moore Historical Colors, 174 timeless shades inspired by 18th- and 19th-century interiors.

-- Jura Koncius

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