Q: Every room in my house is a different color and I hate it. There are blue, purple, and red bedrooms, painted stripes in the kitchen in yellow and orange, and there is a green and brown mural spanning the entire living room! I also need new carpet. This is my first house, and a friend suggested I live in it awhile before making big changes. So here I am, a year later, hating my house. I envy the fresh and clean look of the all-white rooms I see everywhere. Can I buy a bunch of white paint and go to town?
A: Making this house your own will be truly rewarding in so many ways. You should love coming home! Your friend’s advice about waiting to make big changes is better used for large remodeling projects such as redoing the kitchen or reconfiguring rooms. Changing paint and carpeting is not a big enough change to wait when it affects you so much. Next time, trust your gut about wall colors and flooring before moving in.
Get started with a visit to a paint store as soon as possible. It will be satisfying knowing you are working toward making your place better. All those different colors may affect how your new white paint will look, so check in with the store’s staff and ask for recommendations. You might need to use a primer coat to hide the old colors before painting, particularly if you’re not sure what kind of paint was used. And, a better-quality paint might cover the old colors more evenly.
To choose your white, check out the paint samples. Notice how some whites are actually extremely pale versions of other colors? This makes a “white” paint have different but subtle effects, such as a cooler, calm feel with blue or green undertones or a warmer feel with creamy tones, ivory or off-whites or even pale gray. It’s up to you. Just know that any white will look stark against all those colors, so it might be better to neutralize everything first with primer or your best-guess white as a first coat.
Then hone in on just the right white by looking at the paint samples inside your home over the course of several days so you can see how each changes with different lighting. Choose some options for new carpet at the same time you are looking at the white paint samples. For a clean, cohesive look, if the carpet or new flooring you like has undertones in a certain color, say, gray or brownish, consider choosing a “white” paint with similar undertones. And paint the ceilings in the same white, too. If you’re not sure which white is right for you, ask which whites are the most popular and start there.
Even if you don’t absolutely love the white you choose, it will be much less effort to change than covering all those different colors now. Good luck.