It’s amazing how a fresh coat of color can add new life to a space, but if you shudder at the thought of painting or wallpapering a room, you’re not alone. From testing samples to covering furniture to priming walls to making sure you’ve got an even coat, we don’t blame you if the process seems too daunting to even start.
Luckily, Elite Taskers and pro painters Claire F. and Warren K. have you covered with wisdom from 800 tasks between them. With their help, we compiled a guide to painting and wallpapering — without the paint drips and headaches. Keep reading for their top tips on how to choose a color, prep your space, and why you should never paint samples directly on the wall.
Paint or wallpaper?
While it’s common for renters to lean towards wallpaper since it’s easier to remove, it can be a great option for homeowners, too.
“It is a bit more of a statement in the home, and perhaps people like the idea of being able to easily switch it up in a few years, or whenever they decide to redesign their home,” Claire says. Bathrooms, in particular, are a popular space to experiment. “It’s a safe place to go a little wild with designs.”
Another favorite? Nurseries. “I even just wallpaper nursery ceilings!”
PLANNING & DESIGN
Choosing a color
Committing to a color may seem daunting, but you usually won’t have to start with a completely blank canvas. Think about what other colors are or will be in the room, from the floor to a piece of art to the furniture.
“Remember that colors have many other tones in them. Look for something with an undertone that goes with the space,” Warren says. For small spaces, he likes to play up the intimate quarters: “Go darker or deeper for more drama and energy.” For larger rooms, like the living room, he prefers a light, off-white color.
Choosing a pattern
Looking to liven up a space? Patterns work best when contrasted against solid colors. If you’re feeling bold, try mixing patterns from the same family or color scheme. For subtle emphasis, Claire suggests painting the floorboards or door frames in a color that’s present in the wallpaper.
Accent walls are a great way to add a pop of personality to a room. Claire often bases accent wall colors on furniture or artwork in the room, while Warren’s favorite trends include hand troweled concrete, clay plaster, gradients, gold leaf, and stencils and geometric patterns. Get inspiration from Claire and Warren on their Instagrams, and from their favorite accounts: @royalstencils, @kabecopenhagen, @stuccoandstucco, @clayworksclayplasters, @frogtape, and @stikwooddesign.
Forget what you’ve been told about painting samples on the wall to test the color. The test spots won’t fully disappear, even when you paint over them with your final color. “That spot will now be less porous than the other parts of the wall and dry slower and have an effect called ‘flashing’ that you will see from the side,” Warren says. “A professional painter is trying to get the walls to dry all at once for the most even appearance.”
Instead, Warren advises clients to test colors on foam boards or note cards instead and taping them to the door or against a white background to get a sense of how it looks out of the can. Why contrast the sample with a white background? “The existing color of your wall will also be distracting and make the color appear different,” Warren says. (For more on how colors appear different based on what colors they are next to, he recommends reading Interaction of Color by Josef Albers.)
If you’re going the wallpaper route, make sure the walls are finished with a flat primer or paint, not eggshell or glossy, which is harder to stick to. Just as importantly, Claire says, consult a wallpaper website or your Tasker to make sure you purchase enough material!
GETTING IT DONE
Now that you’ve designed, planned, and prepped, hire a Tasker to help get it done! Both Claire and Warren recommend sharing photos and a floor plan of the space to give them a better idea of the project scope. To clear the space, move furniture away from the walls (at least four feet is ideal), and cover the floor and furniture with canvas or plastic to prevent stains.
“I truly believe when you change your space to make it a little better, you can change your perspective and your life,” Warren says.