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5 Designers Weigh in On Picking the Perfect Paint Color

T H E  P A I N T  S E R I E S 

There are at least two main rooms in the new house that I hope to give a healthy dose of color! Even as a lover of all things bright, choosing a paint color to commit to has been particularly hard for me. Will I tire of it? What if it's just slightly off? What if I fall in love with a fabric? Or art? That ruins everything?! I'm suffering from design paralysis!

These 5 designers, who are fearless in their design choices, are absolute pros at picking the perfect hue. It seems they never get it wrong, no matter how bold, no matter the mix. That takes true talent!

I'm so excited to share their paint picking tips. Take notes-- I know I am! Thank you Summer, Aldous, Erin, Lindsey, and Holly for taking the time to educate us!

S U M M E R  T H O R N T O N

Meet Summer:

Summer Thornton Design is a full service luxury interior design firm in Chicago known for their fearless use of color & interiors that are full of life! Most notably Summer was named one of the top 50 interior design firms in the world by 1st Dibs. More on Summer here!

Favorite Paint Brand:

Farrow and Ball is my go to most of the time - it's the best quality and ages well so you can't really go wrong with it. Sometimes we'll specify Fine Paints of Europe when we have special level-5 high gloss finishes.

Go-To Paint Color:

Our work is all about color and personality, so we rarely use the same color twice. However, a few recent favorites are Calamine, St Giles Blue, and Brinjal.

Tips For Making a Selection:

Anyone who doesn't do a large (2'x 2') test on the wall in the room is crazy. We typically test 3 or 4 different colors to make sure we have just the right hue. Beyond that, be aware of the light in the room. If you have north facing windows, the colors will look cooler / more blue. If you have south facing windows, they will look warmer from the direct sunlight. Lastly, colors always look brighter when you have them on all 4 walls, so skew slightly less saturated and muddier than your initial instinct might suggest. 

A L D O U S  B E R T R A M

Meet Aldous:

Aldous is an interior designer with Amanda Lindroth Design, as well as a freelance artist and illustrator. Aldous has always had a passion for historic architecture, designs and gardens. More on Aldous here!

Favorite Paint Brand:

Being British, I naturally love Farrow and Ball, as the colors are based on historical examples and meticulously curated to narrow down your options to tasteful, time-tested colors only. This is a huge help when making a selection as half the work is already done. 

Go-To Paint Color:

Any warm shade of mint green, which is the signature color of two of England’s grandest institutions, Eton College and Cambridge University…although they call it blue!

Tips For Making a Selection:

Practice reveals that colors always seem a lot darker and stronger when up on the wall, especially in poor lighting. Always choose a shade lighter than you like on paper. 

H O L L Y  H O L L I N G S W O R T H 

P H I L L I P S 

Meet Holly:

Holly, owner of The English Room in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an interior designer, tastemaker and popular design blogger. Holly is known for her elegant, eclectic interiors with a penchant for contemporary art. More on Holly here!

Favorite Paint Brand:

I love Farrow & Ball for their sophisticated and distinctly English palette. Benjamin Moore is also always a favorite of mine.

Go-To Paint Color:

Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17

Tips For Making a Selection:

Always get a large 3' x 3' sample board and tape it to the wall. Live with it for a few days to see how the nuances are affected in your home. You'd be surprised how colors can change throughout the day and night. 

L I N D S E Y  C O R A L  H A R P E R

Meet Lindsey:

Georgia native, Lindsey Coral Harper is an interior designer based in NYC. Her designs are fresh and modern with a twist on the traditional and radiate bold pattern, texture and color. In 2019, Lindsey opened up Coral, a brick and mortar store in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. More on Lindsey here!

Favorite Paint Brand:

Now that's tough, there are so many great brands out there. I use Benjamin Moore a lot, Pratt & Lambert and Farrow & Ball have great colors, as does Donald Kaufman. Fine Paints of Europe have beautiful, really rich pigmented colors which are great for exterior doors and shutters. 

Go-To Paint Color:

I do have a few favorites that I often use, but they look different in every space so I am constantly finding new favorites. A true favorite is Farrow & Ball Hague Blue.

Tips For Making a Selection:

It is best to test paint colors in the actual room where they are going to live.  I prefer to put 3 to 5 swatches of the color range I want to use on the wall or on sample boards and look at them in the morning, noon and night.  The light in a room makes a big difference on how the color will look once applied to the walls. It's much more expensive to have to paint the room over than it is to try a few test spots. I would always suggest sampling several until you find just the right shade!!


E R I N  K E S T E N B A U M

Meet Erin:

Erin is an interior designer based in coastal Connecticut, just outside NYC. Eclectic glam design is her jam, as is photography! More on Erin here!

Favorite Paint Brand:

I have two! Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball.

Go-To Paint Color:

I also have two! Benjamin Moore Decorator's White and Chantilly Lace.

Both are clean, crisp, bright whites that almost always look great. Chantilly Lace is a tiny bit warmer and brighter than Decorator's White but both are solid choices. I love colors that are chameleons and change in different light as they add so much depth and interest to a space. In our closet, we painted all the cabinetry Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue and it's the most gorgeous moody blue-green that is so enveloping and sophisticated.

Tips For Making a Selection:

If you can, pick your paint color last, so that you can pull from the colors you've already used in the space (there are infinite paint colors, but not infinite furnishings that work in a space). When choosing a color, go for a more desaturated tone than you'd initially think that has a bit of grey in it, as once it's on the walls it will keep the color from vibrating and being too jarring. When sourcing a paint color, it can be helpful to do a search for how the paint color looks in other people's spaces, but recognize that your space is going to have completely different light, and even your flooring color can throw a cast on the walls that changes how a color reads in your home, so make sure to get samples and paint them on white cardstock that you can tape on the wall and move throughout the space to see how it looks in different spots at different times of day. Finally, don't forget about how you can leverage paint color on trim and the ceiling to create a more custom and intentional look for your space.