Design Recipes: From paint chips to ideal can of paint

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service
View Comments

Perhaps you have stood in the paint aisle staring at the paint chips on display, wondering what to do next. Well, you are not alone. For many homeowners, choosing a paint color is one of the biggest and most controversial decisions relating to a home purchase. Paint chips are intended to provide a visual sample so a homeowner or renter can take a sample of the color with them and see how the color looks within their space without taking the plunge by having to purchase a pint or can of paint. The issue in many instances is the paint chips are too small to give the purchaser a true prediction of whether or not the color will be a winner or flop.

Navigating the home improvement store aisle: In nearly all home improvement stores, the paint aisles are divided by brand and in many instances type (as far as interior versus exterior paints). Exterior paints are specifically formulated to withstand the elements and formulated differently than paints intended for interior use.

What’s in a name? Once you have selected the type of paint you are looking for, in order to help narrow down your selection, the next step is to select a brand. Do your research and read reviews. One of the biggest differentiators is price. There can often be quite a difference in price, and a higher price does not always mean higher quality. You can often get superb quality as far as coverage and durability with a paint that is sold at a low price point.

Color: In many ways color isn’t as much of a factor as it used to be. This is in large part because with an increase in technology, many brands as well as home improvement stores can “match” color. The matched color can be created from the smallest of samples, including the tiny dot often placed on top of paint cans.

In many instances, home improvement stores will sell you small sample pots that will allow you to test the color in your space at a low cost, and some brands provide large-scale color samples. Also, some stores and paint brands have apps you can download to see what a color would look like in sample pictures — or you can download pictures of a room in your house and try the color out.

Finish: Selecting a finish will likely be your final step. In general, the higher the gloss, the easier it is to wipe. If you have brand-new walls, however, a flat finish may be your best choice for a beautiful smooth finish.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at <> or visit her website at

View Comments