How to Choose a Paint Finish


The proper paint application can dramatically change the look of a room with very little cost. Paint influences the mood of your home, and even camouflages unwanted imperfections. 

But how do you know which finish to choose? This guide will help you decide.

A flat finish has no shine.  It is great for walls with nicks and blemishes, as it tends to hide them and make the wall look smoother. A flat finish doesn’t reflect light, so it isn’t the best choice if you want to brighten your room. It is also difficult to clean, so it is best suited for low-traffic areas.

Some paint companies offer a matte finish, which resembles a flat finish. It is slightly more durable and easier to clean. It’s still good for camouflaging minor bumps and other small imperfections.

If an area has a little more traffic, you can consider an eggshell finish, which has a slight hint of shine.

For brightening up a room, choose a pearl or satin finish. They are more glossy than eggshell and will reflect light back into your room instead of sucking it up. Pearl finishes are highly washable and stand up to high traffic. But imperfections in the wall will stand out.

Semi-gloss paint is used most often on trim, doors, and cabinets. It has a nice, subtle shine, and washes easily. Extra care must be taken with wall preparation, since imperfections are highlighted by a semi-gloss surface.

High gloss paints offer washability and durability with their reflective, shiny finish. Glossy paints are not often used on interior walls, but they are a dramatic look for cabinets, trims, and even furniture. A high-gloss finish will exaggerate and magnify surface imperfections, so careful preparation is essential.

Whether you are updating one room or redecorating your entire house, paint is a simple, inexpensive way to achieve a striking new look.

by Anjie Cho

Beyond Paint and Wallpaper: Trends in Wallcoverings

photo credit: Philip Jeffreis

photo credit: Philip Jeffreis

Wait! Before you open that can of paint to freshen up the look of your room, let’s talk about wall coverings. A coat of paint is the traditional wall finish go-to, but it’s not your only option. Consider one of today’s trending wall coverings either as an accent wall or for the whole room.

Braided Hemp Wallpaper

Hemp wall coverings are a great, natural alternative. Created by weaving highly durable hemp fibers, this wall covering is a great eco-friendly option! You’ll find it’s typically hand-woven and dyed with natural materials. Even if you select a natural color palette in this wall covering, hemp’s textured finish will bring a new level of interest to your walls. 

Metallic Wallpaper

Perhaps you hear wallpaper and you flash back to floral prints. Today’s wallpaper has come a long way since then. Don’t be afraid of going metallic. Today’s choices range from a subtle metallic thread woven into natural fibers to varnished metal leaf hand-applied to high-quality paper. If you’re not quite ready to make the total commitment to metallic, consider it for an accent wall. 

Leather/Faux Leather 

You have a few different options when we talk about leather or faux leather wall coverings. You could select a simple traditional leather finish or suede option. Alternatively, you’ll also find textured options with stitching or other patterns. You choices don’t end there! If you’re not sure a full room or even a full wall of leather is right for your room, consider using leather tiles as a mock-headboard or other wall feature. 

Bamboo or Cork Tiles

Like hemp, bamboo and cork are eco-friendly decorating choices made from sustainable materials. With tiles, you’ll have a variety of design choices starting with how you lay out your wall. Will you go with tiles placed in horizontal lines or a herringbone pattern? Which material is right for you will be based, at least in part, on where you plan to use it. Bamboo requires a dry space, which rules out use in a bathroom or basement. Cork, on the other hand, can be ideal as a kitchen backsplash or bathroom wall. If you seal the cork properly, the tiles are water-resistant.

by Anjie Cho

Wallpaper: Why It’s Hot Again and How to Hang It

image credit:  Hygge & West

image credit: Hygge & West

No longer a bad word, wallpaper is cool again. But, this is not the drab wallpaper of 1970. Thanks to popular interior design TV shows and design-inspired communities like Etsy, wallpaper has been resuscitated and transformed. 

With its new, design-friendly reputation, today’s wallpaper breathes fresh personality into rooms with natural themes, bold graphics, and unique patterns. Most importantly, it’s being used in new ways - and it’s being applied sparingly. 

Today, wallpaper is hung to create accent walls, dramatic borders, or unique backsplashes. And you’ll find it in unpredictable places, lining the inside of closets or bookcases. 

Here’s how to hang wallpaper if you’re in a DIY state of mind:

1) Pick a single wall and an easy-to-apply wallpaper.

For first-timers, turn a single wall into an accent wall. If it’s a patterned wallpaper, pick a pattern that’s easy to match up. To make the project even easier, pick heavier papers, which are easier to handle.

2) Clean wall and apply primer.

Wipe down the wall with a rag and warm water. When dry, apply a coat of wallpaper primer to the wall to ensure the paper adheres well. Allow the primer to dry.

3) Measure wall and draw a centered plumb line.

Measure the wall’s height and width, and then mark the wall’s center. Use a level to draw a plumb, vertical line through the center mark for plumb wallpaper panels.

4) Align your pattern and trim bottoms.

Side-by-side, unroll two rolls and align patterns. Mark the bottom, adding a 4-inch margin, where you’d like it to end. Use a straight edge to trim all bottoms. 

5) Measure, mark and trim tops.

Measure wall height and use straight edge to mark and trim the top. On the back of the roll, write a “T” to indicate the top. 

6) Prep the paper.

Lay a roll face down. If pre-pasted, moisten back of roll with a damp sponge. If not pre-pasted, apply paste evenly to the back of the roll. 

7) Book the wallpaper. 

Without creasing, gently fold both ends of the roll to meet in the middle – paste side in. This is known as “booking.” Let the strip of paper rest for the amount of time recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 10 minutes).

8) Hang wallpaper ceiling to floor. 

Unfold the top half of a “book” and align a side to the plumb line. Gently apply to the wall, top to bottom, with a smoothing tool. Unfold the bottom half and smooth against the wall. 

9) Trim bottom. 

Hold a straight edge against the bottom of the wall or baseboard. Use the straight edge as a guide while you carefully trim the excess paper with a utility knife.

10) Wipe with a damp sponge. 

Smooth from top to bottom, and from the center outward, with a slightly damp sponge. This will smooth out any air bubbles and wipe away excess adhesive.

11) Hang another piece of wallpaper. 

Unfold the top half and align the side to the paper on the wall. Edges should touch, but not overlap. Be sure the patterns align as desired. Apply to the wall and repeat until done.

You can have a stunning, wallpapered accent wall easily. But, take your time and don’t rush!

by Anjie Cho

6 ways to get cool with color, without painting

Almost like clockwork at the start of each year, top paint manufacturers debut their new color schemes and trot out their "it" colors. Coral Reef, Springtime Dew, Guildford Green, Pink Ground; so tempting — and sure to perk up a home, especially in the winter doldrums.

Conventional wisdom says paint is the easiest, least expensive quick-change artist in a homeowner's tool box. Problem is, as with much conventional wisdom, it's not quite so simple. "It's a big commitment to paint walls," says New York City architect Anjie Cho. Choosing a color after painting swatches or taping paint chips to a wall, checking them out during day and at night, buying brushes, rollers, drop cloth, primer, sand paper, tape, and finally applying one or two coats of the winning shade obviously takes time.

And then — the color may look different once it covers an entire wall or room because lighting and furnishings affect results. "I often see what I call 'a paint chip gone wrong,'" says San Francisco designer Claudia Juestel, adding, "As a general rule, when applied to four walls, a light color looks lighter and a bright color appears brighter than the small paint chip or swatch."

Of course, you can hire a professional painter or color expert who understands the nuances, but they can be expensive. The new wisdom about paint, in a world where the hot hues you spot on Pinterest one day can leave you with painter's remorse the next: Tread carefully when it comes to trends. "Their appeal may be fleeting," says Juestel. She advises picking a palette — walls and furnishings — that works with your home, amount of light, and personality. "There's no color that's bad or dated, but a combination of colors can appear so. Mauve or blue-gray by themselves are fine, but if you put them together they can scream '80s."

The other new wisdom? If a dose of trend is what you need to make your place feel updated, adding color is still a solid place to start, even if you stick to a low-commitment approach. Here are alternatives to inject 2015 colors without painting, then repainting when new palettes debut:

1. Think artwork. Art is among many design professionals' favorite sources of color. If your budget is tight, Cho suggests making your own masterpiece atop canvas — a solid or abstract, as one client did. Or go online and have a favorite photo printed in a large scale atop canvas. Los Angeles designer Mae Brunken likes to frame wallpaper, usually from Flavor Paper, in a large white museum-style frame in her office, and changes it out regularly. Los Angeles designer Erica Islas used similar white frames to showcase colorful children's artworks on off-white painted walls in clients' living room. She introduced more color with guitars on an opposite wall, sea foam rug underfoot, and blue and green pillows atop a blue sectional.

2. Add greenery and flowers. Greenery and flowers — even a single orchid plant — can inject color.

3. Play up accents. A colorful throw, Sari, pillows, lamps, vases, headboard, towels can all add color, and sometimes texture, says Brunken. Even many kitchen appliance companies now offer their products in a rainbow of hues. Keurig's 2.0 brewer (and a multitude of other products for the kitchen) comes in Pantone's 2015 color of the year, Marsala.

4. Showcase one colorful chair, chaise, or ottoman. It doesn't have to be an expensive sofa or all your seating, but one new upholstered or slipcovered piece can make a difference. Florida designer Holly McCall enlivened her neutral-colored office simply by painting her IKEA chairs with Annie Sloan's Antibes green chalk paint.

5. Judge a book by its jacket. They don't all have to be serious and leather bound, or wrapped in original, maybe, dusty jackets. Brunken likes the idea of covering your books in vivid tones or sophisticated white for a wow background effect. The idea takes time if you do it yourself, but there are companies that do the work for you; one color wrapping them by the foot.

6. Focus on the 5th wall. Chicago designers David Kaufman and Tom Segal begin a blank room's color scheme with the rug choice. "It's the grounding for the design, figuratively and literally," Segal says. "It sets the tone, palette, and from there you can select interesting fabrics." Certain rugs also add a handcrafted, knotted touch, says Christopher Frederick, president of Organic Looms, whose rugs are made in Nepal. For a sleek, hip, almost boutique hotel-style black and white bedroom, Chicago designer Aimee Wertepny went with a rug that's a "neon-electric-teal-vintage-electro-mod pop of color for the otherwise monochromatic palette," she says.


Still want to paint?

Here's how to get color with a longer shelf life, from Jackie Jordan of Sherwin-Williams:

• A color of the year is often trendy. You don't have to use it for an entire room, consider it in small doses.

• Pick a color after placing a swatch or panel of it behind a sofa or by the room's trim or floor so you see how it really will look. Go a bit darker rather than lighter. Pick the color one chip down from what you initially thought.

• Also consider neutrals, for a more subtle change. Kilim Beige has been the company's No. 1 color choice for several years; Accessible Beige is a popular newcomer, and Light French Gray is expected to become another classic.

• Easier to go white? Not so fast, since there are so many variations — warm to cool, with pink to blue undertones.

• Don't forget the right finish. Flat for walls and ceilings conceals imperfections, is durable and washable. Trim represents more of a personal choice, but best in satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss, depending on how bold you want to get. full article

by Anjie Cho Video: Ideas For Painting Flat & Imperfect Walls

Ideas For Painting Flat & Imperfect Walls

Ideas For Painting Flat & Imperfect Walls

The type of paint as well as the treatment of the wall can greatly improve any wall imperfections!

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Video Transcript

I'm Anjie Cho, and these are some ideas for painting flat and imperfect walls.

Imperfections and blemishes on your walls can definitely be an eye sore, but there are ways that you can improve the appearance of paints. The finish of the paint, as well as the treatment of the walls before you paint, are very important.

Before you start, make sure to fill the imperfections with Spackle, like so. You can get Spackle along with a putty knife at any hardware store. Let it dry, then make sure to sand the surface smooth with sandpaper.

Second, the type of paint is very important. Matte or flat finish paints will hide the imperfections the most effectively because they are not as reflective as egg shell, semi-gloss or glossy finishes. The more reflective the paint, the more it will accentuate the imperfections, 'cause the light will hit, will reflect off the uneven surfaces. I'm painting here with the zero VOC eco-friendly paint, which I recommend for a non-toxic holistic home.

Preparing the wall with Spackle and using a flat or matte finish paint is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to improve the look of your flat and imperfect walls.

by Anjie Cho