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Top paint colours

Check out what's hot for paint colours and how you can enliven your room with just a few brushstrokes.

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They say it’s not easy being green, but the fresh new shades of 2015 are making it one of the top paint colours for 2015. Décor consultant Angela Gallant from House of Excellence in Charlottetown is a fan of Benjamin Moore’s colour of the year, Guilford Green, a silvery shade that’s both modern and traditional.

“Some people are scared of green paint because it reminds them of the avocado green from the ’70s or hunter green from the ’90s,” Gallant says.

  • A moody and rich shade of grey, Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball, makes a dramatic background for this gallery wall. Photo: Farrow & Ball
  • Greens are big for 2015. Benjamin Moore named Guilford Green its colour of the year. The neutral silvery-green shade can work in both contemporary and traditional décors. Photo: Benjamin Moore
  • Another shot of Benjamin Moore's Guilford Green.
  • Beauti-Tone’s colour of the year, Jean-eration Gap is a versatile blue jeans-inspired hue. Photo: Beauti-Tone
  • A cheery colour can brighten up a darker hallway, like this shade called iGeneration from Laurentide Paint’s Summer collection. Photo: Laurentide Paint
  • Bold colours are big this year. A dark blue colour like this hue called Midnight Sky by Laurentide Paint is a dramatic alternative to black. Photo: Beauti-Tone
  • Benjamin Moore’s Rockport Gray is a perfect neutral for this living area decorated by Tracy Cameron of Opal Interiors in Tantallon, N.S. Cameron chose CIL’s Golden Wheat for a pop of colour in the adjoining room. Photo: Benjamin Moore
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“But this is a fresh clean green, not too minty or limey.” When a customer comes in for a paint consultation, Gallant discusses the room and asks if there is a jumping-off point for inspiration: a fabric or flooring sample, or even a photo of a room the client likes. Liking a paint colour in a photo on Pinterest or in a magazine doesn’t always translate into liking the actual colour. “Shades look different on computer monitors than they do on an actual colour chip,” says Gallant. “When clients see a colour in their hand, they’re usually quite shocked that it doesn’t look like the colour they saw on the Internet or in a magazine.”

At Vivid Paint and Decor in Halifax, store interior decorator Beth MacDonald says customers are often surprised to hear that greens and plums are back in style. “They’re colours that have been around before, and come back around, so people are really comfortable with them,” she says. “Earthy greens, deep plums, Mediterranean blues; dramatic shades like that.” But the forest green and burgundy living room isn’t making a comeback. The new shades are softer and more modern. Benjamin Moore’s Cinnamon Slate is a close match to Pantone’s colour of the year, Marsala (an earthy red-wine tone).

If you don’t find Renaissance-inspired hues appealing, grey is still a popular neutral paint colour. MacDonald is constantly running out of Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter chips, which is the most-pinned paint colour on Pinterest. “It’s a warm greige [grey with beige undertones], and it really changes depending on the room and its lighting,” she says. “People are loving it.” Whites and creams often stump homeowners, especially when it comes to choosing a shade with the proper undertones. MacDonald says the key is to never mix whites. Use the same shade for the trim, the ceiling, and any cabinetry to maintain the flow.

But if you’re selling your home in the near future, MacDonald says white walls can be austere. “Buyers can’t envision their stuff in plain white rooms because it doesn’t seem very welcoming,” she says. “You need your colours to be neutral enough that they can envision their furniture in the space, but you also need your colours to add character.” Keep the brightest shades for small windowless spaces, like powder rooms. “When a space doesn’t have a window, you can lighten it up with a bright paint colour like neon orange or pink,” says MacDonald. “The colours really pop in the confined space.”
If you do choose a brighter colour for a main room, limit it to just one wall and then use a muted version on the remaining three walls. “People who choose bolder shades aren’t afraid of colour,” says Gallant. “They know it’s just paint. It’s the easiest, most cost-effective way to change a room…it’s easy to repaint, especially if it’s just one bold wall.”

Interior decorator Tracy Cameron, who owns Opal Interiors in Tantallon, N.S., sees many homeowners opting for light and bright neutrals, and limiting bold shades to a single wall, or a protrusion like a fireplace enclosure. “When buyers walk into a home and see it beautifully decorated with punches of colour, they can picture their own furniture in the space,” she says. Cameron gravitates towards warmer tints that are easier to work with. “Even with greys, I will go with more of a greige, something with warm beige undertones, because you can always work around a warm neutral,” she says. “Everything is warming up. Metals are even going warmer, with more gold and bronze and champagne tones. It’s more relaxing.”

Certified interior decorator Denise LeBlanc at Interior Visions in Moncton. N.B. says current wall colours are fresher than in years past. “Colours tend to change about every seven years,” she says. “Right now, we’re about four years into the cycle of fresh greens, turquoises, corals and purples—more colourful shades from the earth. Before that, we were in a cycle of chocolate browns, rusts and deeper earth tones.” LeBlanc often visits clients in their homes, and says an expert will scope out the details that could affect the look of a paint colour, such as flooring, countertops, cabinets and hardware.

“Paint colours should always be the last choice you make in a room because there are unlimited options,” she says. “Your budget might limit you to a certain colour or style of countertops, but you can always find paint to go with them.” Cameron agrees. Her first question to homeowners is if the furniture and window treatments are staying. “More often than not, the answer is no, and that means the first step is choosing the fabrics,” says Cameron. “It’s a lot easier to match paint to fabric than fabric to paint.”

The most important piece of advice is to pick up tester posts (or larger colour chips) so you can try a colour at home before buying it. “The way we remember and perceive colour changes drastically,” says Gallant. “You might love a colour in the store or at a friend’s house, but feel differently once you see it in your own home.” When you bring your sample can home, try it in three key spots: in a corner (to see how it looks in dim lighting), against a window (to see how it looks in bright lighting), and beside your trim.

“We encourage people to come in on a Friday night, take a few colours home to test, and then come in on Saturday morning to buy their final choice,” Gallant says. “Then they still have the whole weekend to paint.”

Tester pots are usually under $10. They’re a cheaper investment than buying two gallons of paint you’ll wind up hating. Cameron often gets new clients who have painted a room multiple times and are frustrated that they haven’t been choosing the right shade. “It’s wonderful when I help them choose a colour and they say, ‘Now it’s perfect. The colour is finally right,’” she says.

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