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Home Improvement: Picking Paint Colors

You thought I went missing, didn’t you?  Or maybe on a vacation?  Nope……..just working like busy little bees on our new home.  We’ve been tearing things down, building things up, painting (and more painting), and making things our own.  It’s been fun.  And rewarding.  But whew, very exhausting.  I can’t wait to show you a few things though.  I have several things to share that we’ve done on the house, tricks we’ve learned, and a few old to new transformations.  Yay!!  But, most of them are half finished and are still in the works.  But ooooooh, I can’t wait until we get most of the “in progress” tasks done.  They are looking so good.


So, I decided to share some of the Home Improvement tricks we’ve been using…….because we’ve been learning a lot along the way.  Some from family/friends, some from professionals, and some from just figuring it out on our own.  And yes, good tips and tricks have to be shared…….so get ready for them.


And, just to show you that we really have been working (and not off on a Carribbean Cruise…ha!), let’s get started with the first thing.


Something that may give you a little anxiety……





Have you ever been to the paint store and you thought you were picking an amazing color?!?!  And then when you painted it on the walls……….yuck. 


Yeah, I’ve done that too.  MANY times.  And it’s so frustrating because white comes is 79,000 shades.  And so does every other color of the rainbow.  So here’s what I do.  I search and search for a certain color that I like.  I look of examples of it online, I find it with similar trim color, doors, and other features that I have in my own home.  Then I pick several shades of that color that I think that I may like.  Then I head to the paint store (I’ve been using Sherwin Williams because there are many around here) and I have them whip up some quart samples for me.  (Because, believe me……..the price of a few samples is much cheaper than buying a couple gallons of paint, painting an entire room, hating it, and then buying several more gallons to cover it up.)


Then I label each paint color container (and its lid), with a number.



And then I grab a sponge brush for each color…..and label those as well.




Then I paint each of the colors on the wall, in order.  I also add a strip of the trim color that I’m using, right below the color samples……otherwise, it’s too hard to tell how the colors will look with all that old paint color screaming at me in the face.




But I don’t stop there……I add those same colors to different locations on the walls.  Because shadows vs. direct sun will make your color look so different.



**Ignore the mess.  We’re working on painting here……not unpacking and cleaning up clutter.  haha!



After the samples are up………wait.  And watch those colors all day long.  Because you may love sample #3 at 10 a.m. but may HATE it at 5 p.m.  So, it’s good to find that out before covering every wall with it.  Make sense?


The pictures above are from our Master Bedroom and I wanted a soft and calm grey/blue color.  The first color that I picked and was SURE I wanted…….ended up being the color I liked the least.  Crazy.


Anyway, our bedroom isn’t quite finished.  Otherwise, I’d give you a good ol’ “before/after” shot.  (Ooooh, I love those!!!)  But, you’ll have to wait.

. . . . .



I have a little sewing project that I’m finishing up for tomorrow or the next day and then another home improvement project (that turned out so rockin’ cool!!) at the end of the week. 


Can’t wait!




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Featured Sponsor:


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Home improvement: picking paint colors
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  1. Katrice says:

    It involves a flight from Cali to Guapi and then onwards by boat to the islands.
    If you are really lucky they might even invite you back to meet their family.
    This is something you should do when visiting any foreign country.

  2. lorinda says:

    I’m inspired by your do-it-yourself-ness! I love how you make things work rather than throwing out the old and buying new, which is wasteful. How do you make time for your projects in the midst of motherhood? I feel frozen sometimes and unable to delve into a project.

    You are a very good seamstress BTW. I appreciate your neatness and jobs done well. Thanks!

  3. Sarah Martina says:

    I can’t stop laughing b/c I have those same “patches” of gray in my house right now… I mean seriously! I wanted the same blueish gray that you speak of, and all I got was green/gray, purple/gray, mauve/gray… bath water gray! Lol… And don’t get me started on ceiling and trim color! (…by the way, what are y’all using for those?)

    Thanks for the tips! And congrats on your new home…

  4. Jason Roland says:

    If there is one DIY project that a lot of people can accomplish it is painting a room! You have a great system here. Can’t tell you how many times I have gone into a room loving the color and then replicate it at home to end up with results that were not what I had envisioned. The paint companies have figured that out and that;s why they offer “If you don’t like the paint bring it back”. I actually had not thought of looking at the colors at different times of the day. Ingenious! I just have at it and want to get the job done so I can move on to the next room!

  5. Kristen says:

    I had that “great on the paint chip” experience just yesterday. Bought a sample, put it on the wall…
    And yuck! I should have gotten a few more samples, so now it’s back to the paint store! Love your idea about numbering them.

  6. Courtney Melonas says:


    I absolutely love your blog! You inspire me! :-) I was curious, what are some blogs that you enjoy reading?

  7. Berina says:

    Love it! We just bought a new place too and are looking to paint everything. I want the blues and the greys with a bit of lavender mixed in for the nursery! And you’re absolutely right, it gets a bit overwhelming.. Number 3 and 6 are my favorites and also very similar in color. I look forward to seeing what you end up with.

    Where did you get that headboard? I am looking for something just like it!

  8. Haley says:

    I LOVE fresh paint! I just painted over the tan in my entry and hallway with Aloof gray. I too painted swatches on my wall to decide what color to go with. So I thought I would tell you my opinion. When I painted my sample on my tan wall, the aloof gray looked TOTALLY blue. In fact my four year old even asked why I was painting our house blue. So I tried a few different colors because I really wanted gray and not so much blue. Those samples stayed on the wall for probably a month or more and I could never find anything i thought was better than the aloof gray. So i took a chance and bought a few gallons hoping that once all the tan was covered it wouldn’t look so blue. And guess what, it totally worked. Once all the tan was covered, it was 100% gray, very little if any blue at all. So just keep in mind that the color it’s next to will mess with how it will look once the whole wall is covered. Also, my master bedroom is painted Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage, and I couldn’t love it more. It’s totally peaceful and neutral. Someday I will paint my entire house that color, you know that one house, in my head, that may or may not happen one day, haha ;) So excited for you to be transforming your new space! Good luck, can’t wait to see the “afters”.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Thanks! I was thinking the same thing about Aloof Gray looking blue on beige walls. Will take the plunge and paint it!

  9. Rachel Holloway says:

    Also, I just went through the paint process, and Lowes told me if I didn’t use a ton, I can return my sample can. That saved me tons! I ended up using about 7-8 sample cans, but returned them after putting a stripe on each wall. So, free–and painted on my wall. Love Lowes!

  10. Melissa says:

    I like the way you think. I’ve done swatches before, but I usually only try 1-2 colors. I like your method better. Did you know that Behr & Glidden have 8 oz sample jars? They’re about $3 each at Home Depot, at least here in the Louisville area. I don’t know how your samples look in person, but in the pictures I’m leaning towards #2 & #5. They seem to be the clearest, most consistent across the 3 pics, IMHO.

  11. Julia says:

    I love your post!! You are so right on samples, different colors looking different throughout the day or on opposite walls. I had to laugh out loud when I read it, because just this week I went to SW and bought about 7 different grays to try on some rooms in our house. The guy there told me they get 3 gray requests to 1of anything else. It’s nice to know I not the only one who picks a color on the paint chip and then thinks it looks so different once painted on the walls. Aloof Gray is also one we tried. Can’t wait to see what you pick. I know it will be beautiful.

  12. Mara says:

    This is timely I am about ready to paint our kids room, thank you.

  13. Kristin says:

    Great tip! I also love looking here for color ideas with the brand and exact color listed:

  14. Ellie says:

    What’s up with my keyboard lately?? It doesn’t type all the letters and I’m a stickler for spelling errors!!
    SO that would be “Just thought I’d share what we do”. Guess I should proof-read better haha!

  15. Ellie says:

    A couple of ideas you might consider are 1) painting some art canvas (Dollar store) this way you have bigger areas and tack them to your wall, and they’re easily enough moved from wall to wall. 2) get enough paint samples to make a 12 x 12 square and tack to your wall (I realize that the paint from the can is always a little darker than the sample, but close enough…and free!). Just thought I share what we do. :)

    1. Chelsey says:

      That’s a great idea! I like that even more than painting a portion of all the walls!

  16. Bethany says:

    How is it that this is your first house and you already have a great tip for painting?! I have never had it that well thought out. Great idea!

  17. Shannon F says:

    So exciting Ashley!! We close on our first home next month and I cannot wait to get painting! I have been pinning color ideas like crazy. lol Can’t wait to see your before and afters too! :)

  18. Lynette says:

    We wanted a crisp clear white for our son’s room, so we simply got the premixed “white,” by olympic from lowe’s. I love it, and want it throughout my whole house. I may not be very picky, but that’s an easy way to choose for me! :) We did do a blue door/closet doors for him to add some fun. We love it!

  19. Ellie says:

    My house looks a lot like yours — boxes and clutter everywhere while we are getting settled. But I did most of my painting before we moved in. We just moved down the street and we had both houses for 10 days so I could do a lot of painting without stuff in the way. However, I have a different method for choosing colors. It’s called “copy and paint.” My family room is the same color as the bathroom in a furniture store I went in last year (and that sounds wacky, but they had the color labeled so a lot of people must have liked it enough to ask what it was). My living room is the same as the color I painted the LR in our old house a week before we decided to move. The neutral hall, etc., color is from an article on that listed their favorite of each color and I liked the “greige.” Without buying any samples I have just put them all up and I am lucky that I LOVE every one of them and they all look great together. Now if the unpacking fairy would just hurry up and get here and do her job . . .

    Can’t wait to see the other projects you have coming up!

  20. Didi says:

    Seriously, you are a GODSEND. We just bought a “new” house (not our first, but it needs some serious refreshing) and I’ve got paint colors – among a million other home improvement projects – on the brain! So your timing – of your new home purchase and resulting posts – is just impeccable!

    And here I was, feeling kinda guilty that I had somewhat stopped following your posts because our recent house-hunting process had taken up so much time & energy that there wasn’t any left for working on crafts or trying to improve my sewing skills… and now here you are, starting a series of Home Improvement tips & tricks! How lucky am I??

    Belated congrats on your new home and I can’t wait to see the progress. Thank you for always being such a wonderful resource and inspiration!

  21. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing these neat tips! I’m so excited to see the final thing!!! ♥

  22. Annie says:

    I love grey (I even named my newborn son, Grey)! We chose grey for our interior walls too and I love it. But i wasn’t nearly as thorough as you were. Our walls ended up looking a little blue/grey but I’m happy with it.

  23. Kelsey says:

    We just bought a house too and are painting everything. I’ve been doing the same thing, testing out bazillions of colors on my walls, and my favorite Favorite FAVORITE gray is SW Aloof Gray. It’s perfect. We did our office and laundry room that color and are going to do the living spaces one shade lighter, Frosty White. I LOVE it. It’s a really true gray, not purplish or brown. I saw you had that sample, what did you think of it??

    House adventures are so fun. Can’t wait to see yours!

    1. Ashley says:

      How funny that you saw that color! I didn’t even mean to test it on the walls in the master……because I bought it for some other rooms in the house. We ended up using that color in 2 other rooms and REALLY love it! :) It has a little blue to it…..but it’s so soft. And beautiful! :) We are totally in sync!!

    2. Kelsey says:

      You know, I told my sister how much I loved this color and she bought it and painted her room and also said it looked blue, which she didn’t like. It doesn’t look blue in my house at all! Paint is so tricky! Definitely the same color can look totally different in different houses too. I’m excited to see what you end up going with!

  24. Renee - the Creative Orchard says:

    I have painted almost all the walls in my house different shades of gray. I have used almost every gray tone of Martha Stewart’s paint from Home Depot and I get compliments all the time. Kinda hard to tell on a computer monitor but I think I like option #6.

    1. Ashley says:

      You are bitten by the same grey bug. And well, I was going to keep it a secret……but you’re good! ;)


    2. Renee - the Creative Orchard says:

      I kinda have a thing for choosing color due to my graphic design/art background. I thought the other ones were a bit too cool with too much blues/lavender and one was too warm with tan. #6 looks like the perfect blend of gray, similar to a cement color to match your graphite headboard.

      It made me laugh when I saw how you test your paint samples cuz I watch the show “Flipping Out” and Jeff always picks his paints that way too. He is the king of gray/neutral. ;)

  25. Cairn says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to hear more. I am wanting to paint my bedroom and master bath in the gray family and haven’t been able to decide. We have good taste! We have the same lamps. I am loving your headboard! Where is it from?

    1. Ashley says:

      We’ve been going grey & blue crazy around here. Once every room comes together, it’ll be easier to see how it all looks. And I’ll post colors too… maybe that will help you see if you love/hate them. And gosh, I love those lamps too. They are actually supposed to be in the living room but the master bedroom ones are pretty similar. Oh, how I love you Home Goods! :)


    2. Cairn says:

      I was so happy when we got a Home Goods closer! Mine are in my bedroom too! They are the first step to our master bedroom updates. Can’t wait to do more!

  26. Chelsey says:

    Yay! An update. Am I the only person who’s been waiting for an update? Lol. We are about to move too (fingers crossed that all works out) and I’ve been excited to see your projects on the new house and get some inspiration!

    1. Ashley says:

      I know! I’ve been missing this ol’ blog too! And even though it’s mid-day, I couldn’t help but post while the littles are napping/quiet time. Good luck on getting the house. Yes, it’s a process but the end feels so good!!! :)

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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