In contract on a house? It can feel like it takes forever to reach your closing date, and you’re no doubt re-clicking your home’s listing while you wait to move in. Why not put that time to good use, browse Benjamin Moore, and plan a paint makeover?
After four moves in six years, including a stint in London, design writer Kathleen Luttschyn, her husband, and their two sons were ready to settle down in their new River Forest home, just outside of Chicago. “I wanted our house to feel like a home as quickly as possible,” she says. “We bought the house while we were living abroad, so I looked at the listing pictures dozens of times to plan what I wanted.” Picking paint colors was a fun way to prep for the family’s transition and make their new home their own. Here’s how Kathleen did it:
Give yourself a goal
Paint is more than just a line-item in your renovation budget. It’s the background to your daily life. Before you begin picking colors, decide how you want your new home to feel. “The sellers updated our 100-year-old house before listing it, and they left the walls stark white,” Kathleen says. “We wanted to warm it up with color and pattern.” Not sure where to start? Browse other local listings and take note of color palettes that resonate with you. If you ever feel stuck along the way, return to your overarching goal for the project and let that be your guide.
Kathleen planned her home palette around the kitchen cabinets, which the sellers painted Benjamin Moore’s Midnight Blue 1638.
Order samples to arrive on moving day
Paint chips are helpful for narrowing down color families and shades, but samples are the only way to get a true sense of what a color will look like on site. “I had several ideas when we moved in,” says Kathleen, “But we didn’t paint until we could see the samples in the rooms. Our house has lots of windows and natural light, so paint colors appear very differently throughout the day.” Whether you brush a color directly on the wall or paint a surface you can move around the room, sampling shades will help you build confidence in your choices. Order the type of samples that work best for your space—color swatches, peel-and-stick, or pints—directly from the Benjamin Moore eStore so they’re at your door on move-in day.
Fix any imperfections
Older homes often need a bit of work to get walls into shape. Sometimes, it’s as simple as filling a few holes with a spackling compound, then sanding walls to smooth them out—but larger renovations aren’t uncommon for new homeowners. “We covered three electrical sockets that were set midway up the walls for sconces and art lights,” recalls Kathleen. “We also had to fix a gouge from a glass doorknob that had banged into a wall.” When you put off these types of fixes, a room can feel unfinished even after it’s painted and decorated, so plan to make any necessary repairs when you move in.
Create a whole-home palette
Painting every room at once can feel overwhelming, so it helps to start small. Kathleen focused on the kitchen and dining room, and everything else extended from those spaces. “We began by basing our color palette off two things: the kitchen cabinets, which the sellers painted Midnight Blue and the floral wallpaper we chose for our dining room.”
In the breakfast room, Kathleen used Landscape, “a fresh, bright green that compliments the blue cabinets in the kitchen and looks beautiful with the trees and garden outside.” A popular off-white, Swiss Coffee creates a sense of calm in the living room and provides a backdrop for eclectic art and textiles. “We covered the walls of our sunroom in grasscloth,” Kathleen explains, “and painted the coved ceiling Gray Wisp, which looks airy and pretty.” By moving from room to room and viewing colors in context, Kathleen was able to create a varied palette that still feels pulled together.
Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee OC-45, a sophisticated off-white, is the perfect backdrop for the textures and textiles in Kathleen’s living room.
Make a plan for painting
Whether you hire a contractor or paint yourself, it helps to have a plan in place. If you’re doing the job yourself, collect all the essentials you’ll need—from tarps and painter’s tape to rollers and brushes. To hire a painter, ask family and friends for referrals and get a few different quotes to compare. Or (even easier when you’re new in town) stop by your local Benjamin Moore retailer for a recommendation. All Benjamin Moore retailers are independently owned, so you’ll be supporting a local business and making connections in your new neighborhood at the same time. For Kathleen’s project, she was able to hire the same contractor who fixed her walls to do the paint job and enlisted a friend with an interior design business to help pick out furnishings. The result, she says, is a home that feels tailor-made for their family.