Room Color Makeovers

By Sharon Naylor

June 24, 2011 5 min read

In fall and winter, the days are getting shorter, the air cooler, and you're spending more time indoors -- which makes this the perfect time to tackle those room painting projects you didn't get around to last spring. A great many homeowners think they're limited to the cool spring season when they can open their windows to allow for fresh air circulation during painting, but interior designers say that fall and early winter still allow for the open-window solution without the risk.

What's the risk? Too-cold air wafting into a room can chill your paint supply -- especially in the rolling pan -- and make application difficult, streaky and perhaps unattractive. But before temperatures dip to a damaging extreme, there's time to paint your rooms. Open windows in fall may let in a far more acceptable level of fresh air, especially when you're avoiding the moisture of spring air and humidity of summer air.

*Choose Your Hues

The rooms you spend time in can affect your mood. During the long, dark, cold winter months, it's far cheerier to spend time in a vibrant, energizing room -- for example, one painted yellow, currently a very popular shade. If you rather would feel warm and cozy, your den or bedroom can soothe you in comforting shades of cappuccino or sage green. Visit the website of a popular paint retailer, such as, to take a free "paint color personality" test, which will show you tones relating to specific emotions, e.g., energized, relaxed, romantic and more. You even can try different paint colors on images of room layouts to choose the perfect combination for your wall and ceiling. And now, with the new Benjamin Moore iPhone app, you can take a photo of a painting, a flower, a throw pillow or your favorite item of clothing, and the app will show you an exact color match from the company's collection.

"I have a painting on my bedroom wall of a Tuscan garden, and I wanted to match the pink shade in that," says new homeowner Teresa Lestrom. "I tried to match it to those paint strips in the home supply store, but I could never get it quite right. I hear that pinks, reds and greens are really hard to match because of their undertones. But the app gave me the perfect shade, taking the frustration and fear out of picking our color. And my kids used the app to pick out their new room colors, too."

One secret of interior designers is to use lighter shades to make a small room appear larger and to reflect the sunlight that you do get in a room during the fall and winter months. Deeper, darker colors often make a room look smaller.

And designers also say that freshening your ceilings, moldings and chair rails with a fresh application of white or near-white paint gives a room an instant makeover that raises your spirits during the dark, bleak winter months.

*Choose Your Paint Type

A big trend in paint collections is low-VOC paint. It makes painting in fall and winter even more of a well-timed task because it emits fewer chemicals and odors, making it healthier to use indoors, especially with small children in the house who have asthma or allergies. Several major brands' eco-friendly paint lines have been tested by Consumer Reports and other notable product assessment companies, so check online for the latest news in VOC-free or low-VOC paints. Bear in mind that these special formulas will cost a bit more than traditional paints, but you may find the health benefits and the lack of fumes to be worth the investment.

*Pick Your Time

An important factor in fall/winter painting is choosing the right time of day. When you're painting with alkyd- or latex-based paint, allow three to four hours of drying time at recommended drying temperatures before nightfall to prevent evening moisture from affecting wet paint.

*Choose Who's Painting

During fall and winter, many professional painting companies are more available to take on your more challenging painting jobs, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings. Investigate expert paint companies well, and ask your friends and neighbors whom they hired to get the job done quickly, efficiently, with attention to detail and with eco-friendly materials and methods. And always hire licensed professionals who have insurance.

Invite friends over for a painting party, after which food can be served. Supervise and help children to paint their own rooms, which gives a sense of ownership and pride, as well as wonderful memories of a colorful family project.

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