Design How-To: Demystifying Paint

February 24, 2021

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: You scour Pinterest and/or Instagram for inspiration for your wall paint. Then you go to a paint store where you grab 2938473 swatches of similar colors that puzzle the heck out of you and you leave more confused than when you walked in. Fear not! We are going to simplify the paint process. In this post you’ll get a break down of the details on how we select paint colors and finishes for our projects as well as a few of our tried and true colors!


We prefer Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball for paint. Why you might ask? We prefer Benjamin Moore to Sherwin Williams in most cases for one reason alone: Benjamin Moore has a Scuff-X line that is a game changer for a truly wipeable wall. This paint line is specified for any project with pets or kids. Farrow & Ball wins the award for THE most beautiful colors and their fan deck is a work of art. Benjamin Moore can also match Farrow & Ball’s colors which is the best of all worlds! Designer tip: most painters have a brand preference as well. Check with them on this.

Our Process

Offering full service design to our clients means that we provide what you see below, but for the purposes of this post, consider yourself a client!


First things first, get to the paint store and narrow that list of colors down to 3-4 options. Bring those swatches home. Follow the remaining steps:

  1. Tape them up on the wall and see how they grow on you over the course of a day or two.
  2. Head back to the paint store to get a sample of the top 3. It’s worth spending for this!
  3. Paint those samples on the wall in a few locations with a minimum of 2 coats each.


Hit all of these spots when putting the sample on the wall: 

  • Next to the trims/casings
  • Across from a window that will cast the MOST natural light on the wall
  • In the spot that will receive the LEAST amount of natural light
  • Write above the sample in pencil what it is so you don’t forget!
  • If you have a dark color on the walls and you’ll be going lighter, instead paint samples on poster board and follow the same instructions above

Sawyer Kitchen samples.

BM Alabaster in the Sawyer Kitchen.

Sylvie’s room samples.

Farrow & Ball Pink Ground in Sylvie’s room.

A few things will start to emerge at this point. It may become clear that the ceiling or trims/casings are not in fact as white as you thought or have an undertone that doesn’t work with the new wall color. If you don’t plan to change these, you will need to adjust the wall color to achieve the right contrast.

Note: If you are going with a white paint over any other wall color, chances are it will take 3 coats to complete the job.


Once you’ve selected your hue, it’s time to talk sheen so you can purchase the correct paint. This can be tricky because sheen varies across brands.

  • Living space walls – Again, Benjamin Moore Matte finish in the Scuff-X line is our go to. Never.ever.flat.
  • Living space ceilings – Flat unless going for a statement or contrast.
  • Bathroom walls – Benjamin Moore Scuff-X in eggshell.
  • Bathroom ceiling – Semi-gloss at a minimum.
  • Cabinetry, trims, casings, built-ins, doors – Semi-gloss.
  • Want to make a statement on any of the above? Step up the gloss!


Greatest Hits

Getting that hue just right on the first try is rare, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself! These are a few of our tried and true favs (preference order):

White / Off-white

  • Benjamin Moore – Alabaster
  • Benjamin Moore – Chantilly Lace
  • Farrow & Ball – Pointing
  • Farrow & Ball – Wevet
  • Benjamin Moore – Simply White
  • Sherwin Williams – Super White (trim and casings)
  • Sherwin Williams – Pure White

Taupe / Beige

  • Benjamin Moore – Big Bend Beige


  • Farrow & Ball – Inchyra Blue
  • Farrow & Ball – Oval Room Blue
  • Benjamin Moore – Deep Royal
  • Sherwin Williams – Moody Blue


  • Benjamin Moore – Decorator’s White
  • C2 – Archival
  • Sherwin Williams – Peppercorn
  • Sherwin Williams – Dovetail

Pink / Peach

  • Farrow & Ball – Pink Ground

Here are a few projects from our portfolio using the colors above:

Farrow & Ball Pointing in the Byron House dining room. 

Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue on the custom built-in at the Byron House.

Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue in the Leclaire master bedroom.

BM Decorator’s White on master bathroom walls. Chantilly Lace on ceiling and trim.


BM Simply White in the Bell House living room. 

BM Simply White on walls and Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue on cabinets.

Petra_Ford_DSC_1655 Kelsey Haywood Final v3

BM Chantilly Lace in the Leclaire Playroom. Custom color match on the wainscottng and trim.


BM Big Bend Beige in the family room of the Talman House. 


SW Peppercorn on Leclaire front fireplace.


SW color match for C2 Archival throughout Leclaire.

SW Pure White on walls and SW Dovetail on moulding and trim. 

Hopefully this helps you move forward with more confidence on paint! Please leave any comments or additional questions you may have below!

Happy painting:)