“Your interior design paint project is a canvas of opportunity.”
Planning an interior design paint project can seem like a tedious exercise in futility at times. But it doesn’t have to be. Envision yourself as an artist with a great big canvas in front of you. You have the power to develop a masterpiece that can enhance your interior living experience.
Consider these elements:
• Color choice
• Paint finishes
• Wall preparation
• Prime time
• Paint types
Understanding some basic information and options in these areas can help you be more successful with your interior design paint project.
I’ve found with my own interior design paint projects that it’s best to take the time to do it right than to rush to get it over with. You’ll be happier with the results. Ok, with that said...I'll get down from my soap box. :)
Before you get out your paint brush and rollers take some time to think about how you want your space to feel. Color plays a key role in how we perceive our environment. Do you want a space that is soothing and restful, for example? Or are you more interested in making the room feel lively and cheerful?
Above all, choose a color that appeals to your taste instead of settling for something just because it’s trendy. To learn more about developing a color palette, please see
my page on choosing paint color.
When you have decided on a color direction you will want to consider any special interior design paint or faux finishes. Instead of simply painting your walls a solid color, there are lots of paint treatment options to pursue. A faux finish technique often utilizes painting glaze along with the paint color and a specific application technique to provide an added level of depth and interest to the results.
Some of my favorite paint finish techniques are “suede”, “grass cloth” and “color washing”. These are all pretty much subtle finishes that can add a nice level of depth to a wall surface.
More dramatic techniques can be applied, as well, such as “sheen striping”. This is a tone-on-tone painted stripe technique which I think would look awesome in a classically inspired interior environment. For a contemporary interior, a “color blocking” technique would be perfect. There are so many directions you can go with this if you’re up to the challenge.
If you’re pressed for time, though, a straight-on paint treatment will probably be the best option. Doing a special finish will take more time, but could be the perfect choice for you if you want more depth to your wall color. Check with your local paint retailer for details on what tools and materials you would need for a specific application. Many stores provide very useful literature detailing step by step painting instructions for the technique of choice.
Before you begin applying paint, make sure your walls are as smooth as you can possibly make them. Fill any nail holes, cracks or gouges with spackling or joint compound. Then follow the material’s instructions for drying time and sanding the spackling for smoothness.
It’s important that your walls be smooth because imperfections will be more pronounced if your paint has a level of sheen to it. The higher the level of gloss in the paint finish, the more obvious the wall imperfections will be. If your walls are uneven despite having no obvious gouges or holes, it would be best to choose flat (no gloss) paint. That will be your best interior design paint option if correcting the unevenness is impractical or out of your control.
This is a picture of me doing some paint work in a sun room. There are some visual distortions due to glass reflection.
After you have properly prepped your walls for the smoothest finish possible, you may want to prime them. Priming is especially important on new, unfinished wallboard. Primer is applied like paint. It seals the surface and allows the color top coat to apply more evenly with better overall results.
For previously painted surfaces you will still want to prime if the previous color was either dark or intense. Any stains on the wall or ceiling surfaces should be spot treated with a quality, stain-blocking primer prior to painting. Of course, before treating a stain make sure the cause of the stain has first been addressed or you will be defeating the purpose.
If you are planning to paint your walls a deep, dark color go with a deep color primer tinted toward your intended finish color for better results. Many establishments that mix and sell paint will tint primer for you.
Taking the time to prime your walls may seem like an unnecessary step and a waste of time, but the better results it provides will make it worth your attention.
Interior decorating paint is typically either water-based or oil-based, and it’s available in various levels of sheen (gloss). Matching the paint type and sheen level to your application is important.
In most cases you will want to choose water-based (or latex) paint. It’s a bit more environmentally friendly than its oil-based (or alkyd) cousin. It also dries more quickly, and the paint applicator can be cleaned easily with soap and water instead of mineral spirits. I love that aspect – easy clean up rocks!
Sheen levels range from “flat” (no sheen) - which is great for walls and ceilings - right up to “gloss” which is a great choice for trim work (baseboard, moldings, etc). Worried about little, dirty hand prints? If you have toddlers and want your walls to have some scrub-ability while still maintaining a low level sheen, avoid flat paint (which can burnish when scrubbed) and try a “satin” low sheen paint instead.
In general, the higher the sheen level, the more scrub-ability you will have. But don’t forget that glossier interior design paint will magnify any wall defects you may have. Try to strike the right balance between competing needs.
Paint stores usually have sheen samples to look at to help you decide what is best for your application. Additionally, you will often find instructional material there on applying the paint to the wall surface.
You’re much closer now to creating your interior design paint masterpiece. Ready…set…go!