Color Your World -April/May 2012

Change the look of a room with a fresh coat of paint.

If you are looking to change the atmosphere in a room, color will give the biggest boost for the least investment, says Yvonne Dumont, resident decorator at Marine Home Center.

“You will get the most impact in a room by choosing a different color of paint,” says Dumont, who has spent a lifetime helping customers choose which paint to go where.


The starting point for a house that is already occupied, Dumont says, is to decide whether you want to work with the furniture and objects already in the room, or whether you intend to start fresh.

“A lot of times people will start with the carpet or a focal point in the room, like a painting,” Dumont says. A major piece of furniture is also a consideration. Then the process of choosing a color starts.

Visiting the paint department of a hardware store can be overwhelming. So many colors. So many choices. Where does one start?

On Nantucket, especially in many summer homes near the water, the color palette is often high-gloss white with fabrics and accessories providing that punch of color and design element. That’s certainly one way to go, but not nearly as fun and adventurous as delving into a color wheel which will show gradations in tone on one strip which you can pair with another, to see if the colors are complementary.

A word of warning. Do not expect the guys behind the counter mixing your paint to advise you on what color you should choose. That is not their job. They will be happy to mix and sell you the paint, but when it comes to décor, they have been carefully trained to point you toward the decorator for advice on what color goes with what.

Another way to get an idea for what color to choose is to flip through some of the many home-decorating magazines out there. Stop by The Hub, or if you are off-island at Barnes & Noble, which has a wide selection of magazines that can provide inspiration.


Once you’ve chosen your color for a room, select the brand of paint you want. Benjamin Moore is the starting point at Marine Home Center, and offers several grades of paint. If you are looking for an environmentally-friendly paint with no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions, Natura is Moore’s brand to choose. Moore’s Aura brand is good for bathrooms, laundry rooms and areas that can get damp as it has built-in mildew protection and provides intense color.

The next grade up is the Farrow & Ball line, which is characterized by all-organic ingredients and historic pigments, says Chick Tennant, an artist who also works at Marine.

“The key to the Farrow & Ball paints is that they provide about 30 percent more pigment than traditional paints, and they are totally flat colors, so all you see is color. There is no shine off the walls,” Tennant says.

In Marine’s furniture department, where a renovation of the space has been underway all winter, you’ll see Farrow & Ball on the walls.

Fine Paints of Europe is the highest grade of paint sold at Marine and is an oil-based paint, but formulated so that brushes clean up with water.

“This is an oil-resin paint that gives you the hard finish of an oil paint, but is also water-washable,” Tenant says. The cost? Add another $20 to the price of a gallon of paint over what Farrow & Ball paints cost, or $40-$60 over Benjamin Moore.


When you’ve chosen what brand you want to buy and the color, then paint a big swatch on a wall and live with it a bit. See how it looks in the changing light as the sun arcs across the sky, and then into evening. If this is a room occupied primarily at night, notice how the paint looks as daylight fades and the lights come on. If it doesn’t feel right, choose another color. And don’t be afraid to ask the decorator in the store for help. That’s why they are there.

The websites of paint companies can be enormously helpful in choosing complementary colors for trim. Most have recommended color palettes they’ve tested and the sites showcase rooms where the colors are used. 

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