Wednesday, December 30, 2015

About Those Closets

"Don't include 
painting the closets." 

Roger hears this all the time when he's doing an estimate. Maybe it's the prospect of cleaning out the closets so the work can be done, or it's an attempt to save money, or a bit of both. I get it. But I'd like to put in a good word or two for painting the closets anyway. 

When You're Redecorating

If you've chosen a new color for the walls, leaving the closets "as is" could suggest that you didn't care about doing a high quality job, or that you forgot to paint them. The room will look unfinished and the overall result will be less polished, harmonious and attractive than it could have been. 

Most closets get a lot of wear and tear and the walls become scuffed and dirty. A dirty, dingy closet in an otherwise nicely painted space is jarring, and every time you open the closet door you'll wish you'd painted the interior.​ In a master suite with generous closet space, lived-in closets, especially if they've been left in the old color, can be a significant detraction. 

When the closets include painted shelving, plan to paint them too. We prefer using an oil base enamel for durability. Allow time for shelves to cure, usually at least a week, before you put your things back. Ask the experts at the paint store for guidance on how long this will take for the product you're using. 

When You're Selling

Painting the closets is a smart move when you're selling. Newly painted clean, fresh closets enhance the perceived condition and value of the house. Unpainted closets might suggest that that house wasn't well maintained, or that you weren't diligent about preparing it for sale. 

If the house is unoccupied and the closets are empty, it's even more important that they look their best, or dirt and damage will be in plain view. I think of unpainted, lived in closets as little pockets of truth that show some of the wear and tear the house received.  
The two big reasons that sellers should paint the closets are:

Clean painted closets will help make visitors more confident that the house is well cared for. Dirty, dingy closets will undermine your selling strategy.

Cosmetic Appeal
Freshly painted closets contribute to the cosmetic appeal that helps that house photograph well and makes buyers fall in love so you can sell more quickly and at the best price. Dirty, uncoordinated closets create a negative impression.

So when you're deciding whether or not to paint the closets, please don't automatically reject the idea. There are several good reasons why you should clean them out and make a fresh start with a new coat of paint.  

If you're redecorating or getting ready to sell, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule a estimate. As one of our painting clients, you'll receive a free paint color consultation to help find the perfect colors for your project, including the closets. If you would like advice on how to prepare your house for sale, schedule a staging consultation, including paint color advice. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Incremental Color Decisions

We're doing an interior painting project at the moment, and I've been working with the
Solving the Paint Color Jigsaw Puzzle
homeowners to create a coordinated color palette. I think of this process as putting together a color jigsaw puzzle, using placement of each piece to help guide where the next one should go. 

I prefer to work this way whenever I can because I believe the best results come from making incremental decisions as the job progresses, using each color successfully applied to help guide the next choice, rather than trying to choose all the colors at the beginning from samples. 

At our current project, the owners have removed wallpaper in the kitchen, powder room, guest bedroom, master bedroom and bathroom. More rooms will be painted as they get around to removing more wallpaper. 

Our first decision was the kitchen wall color because of its importance as their main living area, and because I always begin by analyzing the colors of the fixed elements in the house, such as flooring, tile, counter tops and cabinets. Every color we use has to work with things that are unlikely to change, at least for a while.  The next decisions for logistical convenience were the powder room wall and vanity colors, followed by the guest bedroom walls. The master suite wall color is being chosen last because it's at the far end of the house, allowing more color latitude if desired, and because the carpet is being replaced. The new carpet contains several shades of off white, and the overall color impression was difficult to project, so I wanted to choose the wall color after the carpet was installed to be sure it would work with it and with the bathroom tile.

Some Benefits of Incremental Decisions

Color Behavior 

Choosing colors incrementally provides an opportunity for me to see how each color behaves on the walls before choosing the trim color. Many people have learned from experience that the way a paint color looks in a sample can be dramatically different when it's applied to four walls. By making color decisions one room at a time, you can be sure each color is right for that room, that it will harmonize with the overall color plan, and that the trim color will be right for all the rooms.

More Informed Recommendations

Incremental color decisions help me make more informed recommendations as I can easily see how the puzzle is coming together, and it also gives me a chance to suggest color strategies for extra pizazz or to solve any design issues that might arise. 

Maximum Flexibility

Incremental decisions give us maximum flexibility as the clients and I discuss what colors they like best, or don't like as much as they expected to, and make changes as needed. Maybe a color looks darker than they thought now that they see it on the wall instead of in the sample. Fine. If they can live with it, we'll use what they've learned for future choices. If they can't live with it, how much easier to redo one wall or one room than the entire house! 

Reduced Anxiety

Last, but by no means least, making one decision at a time is a lot less stressful for our clients. They have a much better idea of how everything will look as it comes together, greatly reducing their color decision anxiety. They grow more and more excited, confident and happy as their vision comes to life.

Of course making incremental decisions means that I'm on site every step of the way, and even though my help is a free service to our painting clients and it's time-consuming, Roger and I think it's the best approach. We know that if the colors aren't just right, our clients aren't going to be as happy as they could be, no matter how good a job he does. My involvement helping them find colors they love to live with, along with Roger's superb craftsmanship, really sets us apart. We like that too.

If you have a painting project, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule an estimate. Once you choose us to do the work, I'll come to discuss your ideas and we'll find your perfect colors. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cranky About the Color of the Year

Pantone Color of the Year 2015-Marsala
In recent years it's become the practice for paint companies such as Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore, and other companies such as Pantone, best known for its color matching system, to name a color of the year. The choices are often quite different, making it difficult to see how any of them represent an informed idea, or anything beyond a way to generate sales.

Color(s) of the Year 2015 

Take this year, for instance. Pantone says the Color of the Year is Marsala. Sherwin Williams says it's Coral Reef, and Benjamin Moore says it's Guilford Green. 

Sherwin Williams Color of the Year 2015-Coral Reef

If you want to be trendy, which of them should you choose? Can they all be right? What if you don't like any of them? And what are you supposed to do next year - paint the house again?

Here's Where I Get Cranky

It may not bother you, but I don't like the idea of people sitting in a room somewhere deciding what colors I should live with. The notion that they can make this choice for you and me and everybody else, with zero consideration for whether or not the color is appropriate, is laughable. We aren't cookie cutter people! One color of the year (or three, or more) doesn't fit all.

Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2015-Guilford Green

What About Fashion Trends?

To me, these color pronouncements are very different from fashion trends because they often involve significant expense and are decisions we usually live with for a long time. Fashion trends are fun, can be indulged cheaply and left behind without remorse, unlike a Marsala living room.

What You Need to Consider When Choosing Paint Colors for Your Home

When it comes to the use of color in your home, I think you should forget about the so-called Color of the Year and instead focus on:
  • the location of the house (mountains, seashore, etc.)
  •  the style of architecture
  • the color of permanent details such as flooring, carpet, counter tops, cabinets, stonework, etc.
  • the colors in major pieces of furniture
  • the exposure of the room (North facing, South facing)
  • the color temperature(s) of the light bulbs.
  • the way the room will be used
  • the colors you like
These considerations are timeless and won't steer you wrong.

Other Pronouncements

Many people have been embracing the use of gray for interiors, even though certain designers and paint companies tell us that gray is OVER. I say that if you like gray and it works well in the context of your home, you should use gray and be happy.

Then there are the designers who tell us that we all should have white kitchens. I love white kitchens as much as the next person, but I also love other ideas when they work. The right kitchen design is situational, not a formula. 

So you see, I really am cranky about this whole Color of the Year business, and about design and color pronouncements from people who generalize. I pay little or no attention, and I don't think you should be concerned with them either, except for fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Want A Painting Estimate? Here's Why We Have to Meet You.

The phone has been ringing a lot lately, including people who are calling us for the first time. Some have suggested that Roger "just go look at the house and give me a bid", and I have to explain why that's not a good idea - for either one of us.

In order to do an estimate, we require that Roger meet with you to look at the work and discuss it. Here are some reasons why:

Why We Have to Meet You To Do An Estimate

  • Scope of Work, Your Expectations and Budget

 When Roger looks at a project he could have questions about what you want to do and your level of expectations. For example, if he sees that your project requires a lot of surface preparation for the best result, is that what you want, or do you prefer to settle for less preparation in return for a lower price that fits your budget.

  • Damage or Problems You Weren't Aware Of

Roger might identify a problem that needs to be discussed so that we agree on how to address it, such as damage or cosmetic issues that you didn't see, but he did.

  • Options for You to Consider

Once Roger determines your goals for the work, he can make helpful suggestions and include options in the estimate.

  • Will There Be Color Changes?
If you're planning color changes, we need to know because it might affect costs, depending on the number of coats required for coverage and the complexity of your color plan.

If you would like help with colors, I provide a free color and detailing consultation to our painting clients. Not only will we find colors you love, I'll help you with a strategy for how to place them to showcase the best features of your home and camouflage the rest.

  • Professionalism and Competence - Beyond the Number

We want the you to feel confident in us and our professionalism, and meeting Roger will help you to qualify him and our company. Without that personal connection, our estimate, although it's well presented, is just another number. We strive for excellence and value, not to be low bid.

To evaluate estimates you also need to evaluate who's doing the work. Is he or she clean and well-groomed? What is the condition of the vehicle? If both are dirty and disorganized, it could mean that they won't protect and care for your property either. A low bid from someone like that could be the worst "bargain" you ever found, and if you don't meet with them, you don't know who you're dealing with.

Will Doing the Estimate Make Sense?

If after I explain all this, the caller still just wants Roger to go by and look, I decline with regret. Alarm bells are going off in my head because the caller who just wants a quick number seems to be shopping for the cheapest price, and we wouldn't be a good fit. 

Because we take the time to look carefully at the work and give you a detailed written estimate, doing one is a considerable investment in both Roger's time and mine. We need to have a reasonable likelihood of success, assuming relatively comparable bidders, not low bid amateurs. Our goal is to be fair and reasonable, deliver professional quality work that lasts and represents an exceptional value over time.

Now you know why we need to meet you - and why you should want to meet us.