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Get Swatched ... then SPANXed


It offers an instant transformation. It's inexpensive. It lets you stay on trend. It can hide flaws. It's a decorator's best friend. Really, it's the SPANX of the design world, if you think about it.

But for so many clients, friends, and family I work with, the challenge of picking a color overwhelms the joy that comes from all of the above.

For some it's the commitment. What if I don't like it later? For others it's just not knowing where to start. And for some, it's a little desire to break away from the beige ... but the inability to do it.

Sometimes, even for those who know they do truly want a "beige, " it's picking just the right neutral color.

I recently went to help a friend who was in exactly that rut. She and her husband - who, according to both, has the better eye for design -- were planning to paint the entire first floor of their home. They were savvy enough to realize that the light in each room was very different, along with the furnishings, and that one color wasn't going to look the same in each space.

So they did what I suggest most people do: they got swatched. They had narrowed their selection to four shades, which looked fairly close to one another on the paint chips, and had painted small patches of each of the four samples throughout various rooms of the home: spots that faced north, spots close to the ceiling, walls bathed in light, close to the trim.

shades of neutral

This allowed them to get a great look in every light, and spend some time living with the proposed colors. In their case - and in many - that wasn't quite enough so she asked me to come lend a hand.

We talked about what they liked and didn't about each - from being too pink to kind of yellow - and with that information, I actually suggested a related-but-just-a-bit-different color from my fandeck.

They purchased a small sample, painted around the room again, and found that, like Goldilocks, they had found the one that was "just right." Flash forward two weeks and the home is entirely re-imagined, re-modernized, on-trend (yet neutral), and ready to face the world. SPANXed.

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