Saturday, March 01, 2014

Decor & Decorating: Express Yourself with Color

Are you courageous when it comes to decorating your home? Many of us would like to be as creative as possible but need guidance to venture out from the neutrals -- and into something more powerfully beautiful.

Color is the most important tool in the toolbox, say experts, who often add that one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to infuse the home with color is with paint.

"People often feel intimidated by this type of expression and that's why so much of our country is beige and off-white," says Genevieve Gorder, a renowned interior designer and color expert for Valspar Paint. "We need to remember that color is a great balancer in a space; it's a juggling act between neutrals, grounding shades, highlight and accent."

When choosing a paint palette for any room, Gorder notes, there are four key components to ensure powerful effects while keeping a harmonious balance: neutrals, which are the beige or creamiest versions of any color; the grounding shades, like blacks, browns and grays; the highlights, like the bright white on moldings and window trim; and the all-important saturated pops of color which add life to any room.

"You might want your pop of color to be a powerful accent wall," Gorder continued. "Then, you can complement it with neutral upholstery and grounding accents in the accessories to balance it all."

For additional guidance, inspiration -- and even liberation -- here are this decorator's favorite tips.

* If you want to incorporate a trendy color into your home but feel intimidated, start small with paint or decor accents that are inexpensive. This way, you can always change your mind if you fall in love with something new or want to refresh the look of your room.

* Use the chip rack at your retailer to find color families and their complementing shades. A popular way to find an accent, for example, is to go a few shades darker in the same family.

* Feel free this season to express yourself fully without risk. Valspar Paint is offering a complimentary replacement color to anyone who has a change of heart about their first choice. This Love Your Color Guarantee runs through October 7, 2013, and you can get all the details and offer terms at

share on: facebook

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Using bold paint colors

Paint is one of the least expensive and most versatile means to changing the look of a room. According to the experts from "This Old House," 60 percent of the colors of a home that visitors perceive come from the paint on the walls. Choosing a color scheme can be challenging, which is why so many people stick with neutrals like beige and white. For those who are ready to add a spark of color, there are a few guidelines to consider.

Color theory is a science and there are rules of using color that are taught as early as a child's first foray into art class. We know there are primary, secondary and complementary colors on the color wheel. Even novice home decorators can do well with color if they use the color wheel as their guideline.

According to HGTV, color should flow throughout a house. Every room need not be painted the same color. However, colors should be complementary enough that they flow into one another. Don't paint one room in child's basic primary colors, while painting other rooms in jewel tones and pastels. Stick with one theme and carry it through the house.

Once you have decided to use a bold color, first find your color inspiration. Color combinations that appear in nature are more readily accepted by people, so look for an item in nature, such as a seashell or a flowering plant that you can base your color choices on. Others pull inspiration from a particular design item. For instance, maybe an area rug strikes your fancy. Use colors that appear in the rug in the room.

Keep in mind that using bold color doesn't mean you have to paint every wall from ceiling to floor in that color. Rather, if you're just starting out with bold colors, select one wall to serve as an accent wall. Use that wall as your bold canvas and paint it with your chosen hue.

Some people like to experiment with a more flashy color in a smaller space. If you're nervous about beginning in the living room or kitchen, how about trying out bold color in a smaller space, such as a powder room? A more intimate space might seem less overwhelming when painted in a bold color. Go for a deep purple or another jeweled tone. However, try to avoid greens in the bathroom, as they may reflect off of the mirror and cast a hue onto your face that makes you look unwell. Pinks and peaches will shed a rosy glow.
If you will be incorporating complementary colors into the room, use the paint color swatch as your guide.

Most paint manufacturers use three or four different shades on one sample card. When selecting a complementary shade, be sure to pick from the same tone on the card. That means if you're choosing the darkest of color #1 from a card, you'll want to choose the darkest from color #2.

Another idea is to leave walls neutral and use bold color on design accents. For example, designers at recommend painting the inside of niches, shelves or cabinets with glass doors in bright tones and the outside white to create an eye-catching space without going overboard. Put a bold color on moulding or use an appliance or a fixture in a bright color as your splash of boldness.

Remember to have balance. If you will be painting an entire room in a bold color, think about having the other decor items in neutral colors. Sofas and rugs should be neutral colors, or consider toning down a vibrant color with the use of white molding or baseboards.

All it may take is a little inspiration to get started on fun, inviting color schemes in the home. Furniture store Raymour & Flanigan offers a handy design tool for incorporating different colors into a space. Find ideas at

share on: facebook

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prep work important before painting

Painting a home's interior can give it a completely new look and feel. A fresh coat of paint can make a room feel more vibrant and up-to-date, creating a whole new attitude within the room without breaking the bank.
Whether creating an accent wall or painting each wall within a room, painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive home improvement project. But that doesn't mean painting does not require a little prep work before the project can begin.

* Address any holes or bumps on the wall. Holes or cracks in the wall will need to be patched with spackle, which then must dry before the wall can be given a new coat of paint. In addition, sand down any bumps until the walls are smooth and free of any unsightly abnormalities.

* Wash the walls. Walls can get dirty, and that dirt may or may not be masked by paint. Before adding a new coat of paint, wash the walls and inspect them for dust. Dust can collect on molding, especially in rooms that get little natural air. When dust has collected on the molding and around doorways and trim, use a damp cloth to wipe it away before adding any new paint.

* Apply primer. Primer can serve many functions, not the least of which is its role as a bonding agent between the wall and the top coat of paint. Primer can also help conceal dark colors, prevent stains and increase the life expectancy of the paint job you are about to undertake.

* Prepare your paint. Preparing the paint is a simple task, but one novice painters may not be aware of. When opening a new can of paint, stir the paint before using it. In addition, even if you don't plan to use a roller when painting, do not paint straight from the can, which can be heavier to hold than a small bowl, and a light bowl is less likely to be spilled than a potentially heavy can of paint. In addition, once paint has been removed from the can, replace the lid so dust and other impurities do not settle in the can.

* Purchase painter's tape. Painter's tape can be especially valuable to novice painters. Painter's tape makes it easier to paint smooth and clean paint lines, giving a room a more professional looking coat of paint without the cost of hiring a professional painter.

Painting can be an inexpensive and fun way to upgrade a home's interior. But even though painting does not require the technical know-how of more large-scale home improvement projects, it still requires some prep work and attention to detail to ensure the job is done right.

share on: facebook

Caution necessary when painting indoors

Few people might think of potential safety hazards when planning to paint the interiors of their homes. Though every home improvement project can lead to injury if safety measures are not taken seriously, painting is widely considered a project where do-it-yourselfers are at minimal risk of injury. But in addition to the injury risks associated with climbing up and down ladders to paint ceilings or out-of-reach corners, there are some health and safety concerns that painters must consider before beginning their projects.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the majority of paints contain chemicals that evaporate in the air, and these chemicals can adversely affect human health. Problems associated with chemicals found in some paints include eye and throat or lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, and vision trouble. Professional painters exposed to paint vapors over long periods of time can develop problems with their nervous systems, liver and kidneys, and some chemicals found in paint have been linked to elevated cancer risk.

Though painting is often an enjoyable home improvement project, painters still must take the following precautions to ensure their safety when painting the interior of their homes.

* Read product labels carefully. Paints vary considerably with regard to how hazardous they can potentially be, so it's best to read paint can labels thoroughly regardless of how experienced you are at painting. Labels provide safety instructions specific to that particular paint, including suggestions to reduce hazards and advice on what to do should users develop any adverse health effects.

It also helps to reread labels once the painting project has been completed. Labels often include instructions on how to clean or discard products and tools after use, as well as suggestions on where to store paints or other products used during the project that may be flammable.

* Paint during the right time of year. Exposure to chemicals found in paint can be reduced considerably if you paint during the right time of year. Spring and fall make ideal seasons to paint, as the weather outside during these seasons is typically pleasant, allowing painters to open all of the windows without making conditions inside the home unfavorable.

* Open all of the windows and doors. While it's especially important to open all of the windows and the door in the room where you will be painting, it's even better to open as many windows and doors throughout the home, making sure to push curtains and blinds back to let the fresh air pour in. Keeping all windows and doors (use screen doors if you are worried about animals or insects entering the home) open promotes ventilation throughout the home, allowing for constant airflow that will usher any potentially harmful chemicals out of your home. If necessary, place a box fan within a window frame to promote cross-ventilation. Never turn on the air conditioner as a substitute for fans and open windows, as that will not be pushing any air out of the home.

* Seal paint cans tightly once the project has been completed. At the end of the project, you may or may not have leftover paint. If you have a small amount of paint leftover that you do not intend to keep, contact your local government to determine the best way to dispose of the paint. You also can do this if you have empty paint cans but are uncertain if they can be discarded with normal household trash and recycling. If you have a substantial amount of paint left, be sure the lid is closed as tightly as possible, as vapors can leak through poorly sealed containers, putting the health of residents at risk. Once again, read the label to determine the best place to store leftover paint.

Painting is widely considered a fun home improvement project. But if certain safety measures are not taken when painting the interior of a home, these projects can put the health of residents at risk.

share on: facebook

Add some fresh color to kitchen cabinets

Many homeowners dream of giving their kitchens a full-scale remodel. Though such a project can give a kitchen an entirely new look, that look does not come cheap. According to Remodeling magazine's 2013 "Cost vs. Value Report," homeowners can expect to spend more than $53,000 on a major kitchen remodel and recoup just below 70 percent of that cost at resale. So while the idea of a full-scale kitchen remodel might be a dream project, the cost of such an undertaking is beyond many homeowners' budgets.

But homeowners who cannot afford a full remodel can still give their kitchens a new look and can do so for relatively little money. Painting kitchen cabinets a new color or simply giving fading cabinets a fresh coat of paint can instantly add life to a kitchen, giving the room an entirely different feel without breaking the bank. The following are a few tips for homeowners planning to paint their kitchen cabinets.

* Assess your existing cabinets. Some cabinet materials, including wood and metal, can be repainted without much of a fuss. But other materials, including plastic laminate, are not so amenable to repainting, and will likely require specialty paints. Homeowners with plastic laminate cabinets should first paint a spot or two with a sample paint, being careful to choose a spot that's concealed. If the paint bonds well to the plastic laminate, then you can go forward and buy enough paint to redo all of the cabinets. If the paint does not take, consult a professional to find a paint that's likely to be a better fit. Expect this process to be one of trial and error.

* Plan for ornate cabinets to take a little longer. Painting projects will go faster when cabinets have flat fronts, but they can take considerably longer when cabinets are unique and more detailed. If your cabinets are ornate, then factor this extra time into your schedule.

* Remove the doors and hardware. When painting cabinets, it's best to essentially disassemble them, removing the doors, handles, knobs, latches, and any additional hardware. When removing hardware, be sure to set them aside in clearly marked plastic bags so it's easier to reassemble the cabinets once the fresh coat of paint has dried.

As doors are removed, number each door and its corresponding location, much like products that require assembly are numbered at the factory. This makes it easier to reassemble and ensures the cabinets and their hinges will align properly once you have finished painting.

* Don't paint dirty surfaces. Cabinet surfaces have likely collected their share of dirt, grease and grime over the years, so you want to clean these surfaces thoroughly before painting. Once surfaces have been cleaned, rinse them off and give them ample time to dry.

* Sand the surfaces. Once the surfaces have been cleaned and are completely dry, it's time to start sanding them. Lightly sand the doors using a wood sanding block, working to create a firm base to which fresh paint can easily adhere. Areas that are most exposed to wear and tear may require some extra elbow grease, and some areas may be especially flaky. When old paint is flaking off, this means the previous finish did not adhere very well to the surface, which is not necessarily uncommon in kitchens, where moisture and grease residue can make it harder for paint to adhere to the surface. In such instances, sand the flaky areas to the bare wood before spot-priming with a primer or sealer designed for areas with heavy staining. After all of the sanding is complete, vacuum the surfaces to ensure there is no leftover sanding dust before painting.

* Apply primer-sealer. Primer-sealer ensures the fresh paint will bond well to the surfaces, preventing conditions like flaking in the future.

* Paint the cabinets. After the primer-sealer has been applied, it's time to paint the cabinets. Begin with the inside edges and openings of the face frames, followed by the outer cabinet sides and then the front of the frames. Then move on to the cabinet doors and any drawer fronts you might be painting as well. Cabinets with more elaborate designs require closer attention to detail than flat cabinets. When painting, opt for thin coats, which dry more quickly and also create fewer visible brushstrokes. When applying multiple coats, allow the paint ample time to dry between coats. Four hours between coats is a good rule of thumb, and lightly resand all surfaces before applying the second and final coat of paint.

* Reassemble the cabinets. Once the final coat of paint has fully dried, carefully reassemble your cabinets and then enjoy the fresh and inexpensive new look that your freshly painted cabinets have created.

share on: facebook

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Give your windows more character with colour

(NC)—White is the most common choice for window trim, but nine times out of 10, the wrong one.
While it is right for white or light-coloured houses with a cottage-y feel, or for the look of a seaside home, it is not right at all for houses built of natural materials or with colourful siding or stucco, say the experts. Bright white is too bold, the contrast too great—and the result is a busy fa├žade.

“On stone and brick, as well as on tinted stucco or siding, whites need to be toned in and toned down to reduce contrast and create balance,” says colour expert and designer, Janice Lindsay, owner of PINK colour + design.

Choose off-whites and choose with care, Lindsay cautions: warm whites with warm palettes, cool whites with cool palettes, and putty or light grey with red brick or stone.

“If you have white windows, your trim needs to be the bridge between the window colour and the body colour of the home. The darker the body colour, the darker the white must be. Whites are hard to get right.”
Far easier and more interesting, she says, is to draw the trim colour from your home itself or from its surroundings. For example, the tan and ochre of wood (PPG Pittsburgh Paints Nettle, 312-4 and Camel, ATC-91); the grey-brown of tree bark (Granite, 521-6 or Ghost Ship, ATC-95) and the many colours found in stone walks and foundations. According to Lindsay, they all work as 'colourful' neutrals that harmonize white windows with the stronger colours around them.

Nature offers greens for every taste. For their timeless elegance, Lindsay says she likes muted sage (PPG's Mossy Gold, ATC-50 or Scottish Moor, ATC-51), dark teal (Dark Green Velvet, 503-7 or English Ivy, 505-6), and traditional black-greens (Pine Forest, 505-7 or Royal Hunter Green, 406-7).

“These greens look wonderful with red brick. And, yellow khakis like Lively Ivey (ATC-44), Tapenade (ATC-45), or Dill (310-5) look more contemporary when used with dark or neutral greys.” (Remember to choose lighter, transitional greens for trim if you have white windows.)

Reds are the colour complement to nature's powerful greens. Consider using them on window trim, especially at the rear of the house where their colour will outlast the garden flowers. (And yes, the trim on back and front can be different.) Did you know that on Fallingwater, perhaps the most famous house in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright chose the burnt red of autumn leaves (PPG's New England Red, 6432-7) for all the windows and trim, inside and out? Lindsay explains that it warms the grey stone he used throughout the house and creates a colour counterpoint to the exterior's golden neutral.

Finally there is black, white's alter-ego. Black gives windows depth. “It makes the mullions disappear and focuses the eye on the outside dimensions of the window—their shape and proportion,” says Lindsay.
Lindsay's parting advice is to use white for your exterior window trim if you can meet the challenges of choosing the right one, but don't overlook the more colourful options, “which are also easier to get right.”

share on: facebook

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Have more colour fun on the front of your home

(NC)—It is hard to let loose and have fun with colour on the front of our homes. We usually feel the need to restrict our whims to the front door—and what goes into the planters. But according to colour and design experts, there are a few more places for colour fun that won't upset the neighbours. Consider these ideas:

Step Risers. If you are using more than one colour on your exterior trim, alternate these on step risers. It will be playful but still well-behaved.

Porch Ceiling. Colour here has a big impact without rocking the boat. Navajo Red, from the Olympic line of solid-colour stains, is a terra cotta that works well with red brick or stone. A soft, mid-tone, almost-neutral green will complement yellow and red brick, as well as neutral exteriors. White is often used on porch ceilings to maximize reflected light but all light colours can do the same job and some—like Gold Buff (PPG Pittsburgh Paints, 215-4)—will do it better.

Blue is popular on porch ceilings in places like New Orleans. Blues brighten and lighten, creating a sense of sky, and they work with almost any colour scheme. Try Shipmate Blue, another Olympic solid colour stain, but you can choose any blue that blends into the larger palette of your exterior. Janice Lindsay, owner of PINK colour + design, encourages clients to push the envelope. “I like Olympic Wedgwood, a demure historical blue. It seems a bit cheeky—but only because it's unexpected.”

Porch Floor. Turn porch floorboards into a welcome mat by staining boards in alternating bands of colour. The rhythm can vary—single boards in your accent colour between two boards stained in your main colour; or two and two, etc. Just limit yourself to two or three hues chosen from your exterior palette and blend rather than contrast. Subtler palettes will be more elegant. Also from the Olympic stain palette, Lindsay recommends Sage and Seafoam with or without Woodland Green or Colonial Blue; or Beachwood and AquaSmoke, with or without AntiqueSilver. “Stripe the entire porch, or just the sitting area,” she suggests.

Furniture. Staining wood furniture creates a focal point. Complement your plantings. For example, use Olympic Amsterdam Blue on chairs that sit next to magenta geraniums or chartreuse plants; or try Olympic HarvestGold with any red.

These suggestions work equally well in exterior paint or solid-colour stain, but consider the difference in finish before making your choice of coating. For example, Olympic Maximum solid-colour stain will coat your wood with a flat sheen and let its texture show through. PPG's floor and porch enamel, in satin or semi-gloss, will give you a higher sheen and smooth surface.

Now if this isn't enough fun with colour for you, don't worry. There are still all kinds of opportunities waiting for you in a place where you can pull out all the colour stops—out back.

share on: facebook

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hot New Colours for Home Exteriors

(NC)—With the warmth of spring comes a blast of much needed colour as plants and people come back to life after a long winter. Winter can be harsh, not just on us but on our houses. Now is the time to give your house a little TLC and take years off the face of your home.

Every season has a fresh new palette of hot colours. The same is true for home exteriors. “Rich grays, fresh blues and corals have been steadily growing in popularity inside the home,” says Sharon Grech, the colour and style expert for Benjamin Moore. “These colours translate to your exterior in shades that are understated and organic to work with the natural elements. Paints and wood stains are always a smart investment because they not only enhance the beauty of your exterior surfaces, but also protect them from nature's effects.”

Grech suggests limiting your exterior palette to three or four colours, including those of fixed elements like roof and cladding. Beautiful body and trim colours, such as Jute, Pashmina and Kendall Charcoal coordinate well with exterior stone and wood, and you can always accent with vibrant hues to showcase your personal flair.

“Since it is a relatively small area in contrast to the house, your front door is the one spot where you have the most versatility when it comes to colour,” says Grech. “Colour is powerful in the message it sends. For example a red door is daring, while a black door says formal and stately, like the one at 10 Downing Street in London, the famous residence of the British Prime Minister.”

Aside from choosing your paint and accent colours, she says, some of the most important factors to a successful exterior paint job include the quality of the products, proper surface preparation and a good application technique. The Benjamin Moore colours (featured in the photo) include Stonington Gray as the siding, Blue Nose on the shutters, Dune White as the trim and Concord Ivory on the door.
Online resources, such as, offer tips, tool recommendations and colour matching to help you achieve the look you're after.

share on: facebook

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lead Paint Hazards and Older Windows

 If your home was built before 1978 and you still have the original windows, it's time to seriously consider replacing your windows -- especially if you have young children or a pregnant person living at home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the routine opening and closing of windows in homes built prior to 1978 can disturb lead-based paint around the windows, causing paint dust and chips to be released into the air. These lead particles are so potentially dangerous that the EPA now requires contractors to be trained and certified before they can perform any renovation, repair or painting projects that may have previously applied lead-based paint.

"Research indicates that the everyday activity of opening and closing windows creates friction that then allows invisible lead dust to enter the air," says Rick Nevin, a consultant to the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). "Young children, who crawl on the floor where the lead dust has settled, can be especially at risk. Toddlers put their hands in their mouths ... and after playing on the floor near a window, they can easily transfer the lead dust into their mouths. The ingested lead travels through the bloodstream to a child's developing brain, causing many types of neurobehavioral damage."

According to Nevin, one of the most important long-term investments a homeowner can make for the overall safety of a family is to replace older windows, using the EPA-approved lead safe renovation guidelines.
"Replacing older windows is one of the best ways to reduce lead risks," says Nevin. "Make sure to use only a contractor that is certified in lead-safe work practices and strongly consider the use of ENERGY STAR(R) qualified windows, like the vinyl replacement windows offered by Simonton Windows(R). These windows are a healthy choice for replacing older single-pane units. They're energy-efficient and a good value for the investment."

"At Simonton, we advocate that replacing older windows coated with lead-based paint with vinyl windows is a sensible step for homeowners who want to create a healthier home environment," says Gary Pember with Simonton Windows. "We believe Rick's research substantiates the replacement of all windows coated with lead-based paint as a way to dramatically help reduce lead dust within that home."

Nevin explains that, according to his research funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), homeowners need to understand there are four key steps to completing a "lead-safe window replacement strategy" for the home.

"First, they advise replacing all single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows," says Nevin. "Second, stabilize any significantly deteriorated paint. Third, perform specialized cleaning to remove any lead-contaminated dust. And finally, perform dust wipe tests to confirm the absence of lead dust hazards after the clean up."

Research results can be obtained at 

share on: facebook