Home Makeover Series Part 1: How To Choose Color

How many times have you looked around your home and wished you had the know-how to jazz it up with style? Yeah, we’re right there with you. That’s why we’ve enlisted carpenter-painter-interior-designer extraordinaire Carmen De La Paz from HGTV’s Hammer Heads to walk us through choosing color, designing for closet-sized apartments and not blowing our budget in the process. Now, design away!

Starting Out
Before you begin any home design project, figure out what the theme of the room will be. “The biggest mistake people make is they try to take what they already have and force it into something that’s not them because they made the wrong choice to begin with,” De La Paz says. “And because they haven’t picked the theme or style before buying things, their home will never look focused.” Ask yourself, “What would reflect me?” Look through magazines to jump start ideas and note what grabs your attention. Then create a color palette based on your selections.

Choosing Color
“The one way that you can make the biggest impact in any room is through paint,” De La Paz says. When it comes to picking colors that work together, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. “Let the paint company pick the palette for you; they’ve designed their colors to work together,” our expert suggests. So grab a few paint chips and color brochures that show complementary hues, then create your color scheme. And you can rack up major savings by looking through your paint store’s “throwback pile”: When customers return unused buckets of paint, the store resells them at a discount.

Painting 101
Before you begin painting, get rid of any dust or loose particles from the surface and use lightweight spackle to fill in any holes. Instead of smoothing over the spackle with sandpaper (which creates more dust), De La Paz suggests using a wet rag. “You get a much better finish on your wall,” she explains.

Then grab the basic tools for your paint job:
• 2-inch brush for trimming
• Roller cover and cage (note: use a thick sponge on rough surfaces and a thinner one on smooth surfaces)
• Painter’s or decorative tape
• Paint tray
• Plastic tray liner
• Canvas tarp

First determine if the pre-existing paint on the wall is oil- or water-based by applying latex paint remover to a clean white cloth and wiping the wall. If the paint remover cleans the surface without removing the paint, it’s oil-based and De La Paz suggests priming it beforehand. If the paint comes off on the cloth then it’s water-based and you can feel free to skip the primer. However, if you’re making a dramatic change in color (going from light to dark or vice versa) a tinted primer would be best. Why? “This will kill two birds with one stone. You’re not only priming it, but you’re darkening the wall with the cheaper primer as opposed to spending the time and the more expensive paint with seven layers.” She also recommends keeping the roller saturated with paint and letting it do the work for you, aiming for an even spread. Two coats of paint should do the trick.

Stay tuned for next weeks installment of DYI home makeover tips from De La Paz. She'll be sharing some carpentry tricks of the trade and telling us how we can get a whole new look without breaking our budgets!

—Dorkys Ramos