Colour can calm, energise, or spark creativity; it evokes emotion and transforms your mood. Colour itself is actually a type of energy produced by light, so if you could use a little energy shift in your home, then why not try adding a new colour to your décor? Paint is the most cost-effective way to impact an interior space and now that everyone is spending more time at home, it’s a great opportunity to try a little DIY.  

Take these important steps to ensure you get the best possible result from your DIY paint experience.

This room features Million Dollar Red Chalk paint from Benjamin Moore to help organise and add some character to the  space


Make a realistic plan 

Before you start any DIY project, ask yourself a few questions to be sure your goals are clear and achievable:

  • What would you like to improve about the space?
  • How much time can you devote?
  • What is your skill level?
  • What is the budget?

If you are a beginner with very little time and a modest budget, you may opt for a smaller feature or partial colour wall or even a chalkboard (available in any colour). If you have a bit more to spend, try a family or home-office dry-erase board. Dry-erase kits are available in white and clear. Easy to apply, they can be rolled onto almost any surface including kitchen cabinets, doors and furniture. Painting furniture requires some basic know-how as the prep, time, and budget are slightly more. If you can take this on, I suggest adding a colour you love to an entrance console or cabinet, bookshelf, outdoor furniture, or even interior doors. A kitchen cabinet redo or a full room is an exciting project if you have more experience to bring, or at least more time and devotion. Try your hand at stencilling or the big trend right now, free-hand painted wallpaper, if you are up for a more creative challenge!

Benjamin Moore's Gettysburg Gray Chalkboard Paint on this kitchen wall proves stylish and handy

Analyse your colour influencers and get some help 

First, look around the room or space and be aware of colour influencers such as flooring, lighting (or natural light), rugs, curtains, countertops, window-frame colour, and furniture. Consider limiting your selection to a paint brand’s ‘colour collection’ to give you some boundaries for selecting a colour or palette. 'Colour collections' are colours curated to work with one another to create a pleasing palette keeping within similar tones. If handpicking colour sounds slightly overwhelming, you may want to book a professional in-home or virtual colour consultation with a colour specialist or seek assistance from paint brand app. Benjamin Moore Paints has one called Colour Capture, which allows you to take a picture of your inspiration (a patterned silk scarf, piece of fabric, or a magazine image) and the app will put a colour palette together for you. Colour Portfolio, actually lets you see your selected colour choice in your room just by holding up your phone or ipad in a well-lit space. These apps are so much fun and, best of all, free to download. 

A partial wall cover of Danube Blue Matte from Benjamin Moore adds some coastal character to this bright bathroom

Get to know your surface

Once you decide on a colour plan, it is important to get to know the surface you will be painting. Not every surface will require the same preparation and cleanliness is the secret to good prep work. Walls need a gentle soapy water sponge bath to eliminate oils and residue. If you have done any wall prep work to fill holes, you will need a quick coat of primer before you roll your colour. Furniture needs a stain blocking primer if you will be covering a wood stain, and kitchen cabinets and doors should get a TSP or citrus wash before priming and painting to get longevity out of your efforts.

Teal Ocean (Eggshell sheen) walls in this dining area make the Decorator's White Semi Gloss window frames pop and the Brookside Moss ( Grand Entrance, Satin) door is a fun contrast from the same colour family and beautifully picked up in the seat cushions

If you have mildew issues, never paint over it. Instead, fill a spray bottle (1 part bleach to 3 parts water) and spray it once/day for 3 days, and on the 4th day you can prime and paint. While sanding is not required for every paint project, you may want to lightly sand out any rough spots or flakes (with a fine-grit paper or sanding block) to ensure the paint rolls on smoothly. Then wipe away dust with a damp cloth. Be sure the surface is dry, as primer will not stick well to a wet or powdery surface.

From Benjamin Moore's Aura Colour Stories 2017 collection, this Plum Martini ( Eggshell) wall is a contemporary contrast to the staircase, white frames and hot pink wire chair

Decide on the right product

Not all paints are the same. The easiest way to choose the right one is to narrow down your surface requirements. First, there are interior and exterior paints. Within those options, you can choose an oil-based or water-based paint, but water-based paints are the most commonly used, especially for interior, residential painting. Among interior water-based paints, it makes for a smoother outcome if you select one that has paint and primer together in one product. The next stage of narrowing often depends on budget, quality, and performance. Typically, a higher-end product will give you more washability with less sheen. This is ideal. If you have budget limits, you may need to bump your sheen up to a level slightly higher to get more durability. This often varies between paint brands. There are also performance features to choose from – for example, high-shine options for glamour, specialty products for doors and architectural mouldings or for painting directly on metal without being primed. Every paint brand has its own specific products and features, so ask your preferred brand’s retailer what is best for your goals before you buy.

 Benjamin Moore's 2018 Colour of the Year Caliente Red on the walls is a bold and bright addition, well balanced with the natural light, glass doors and white flooring of this kitchen

Be wise about sheen.

The ultimate statement your colour makes has more to do with the right sheen, because it is the sheen that enhances the look of the surface. Sheen, or paint finish, is how much light reflects off the painted surface, resulting in gloss – or a lack thereof. Know some of the common sheens and their uses, or get creative and break tradition with your own ideas. The easiest way to understand sheen is to know that the flatter you go, the more imperfections you hide but the less washable, durable, and colour-fast. High gloss shows off imperfections and needs to get a good layer of sanding between every paint coat and may require multiple coats. The ideal interior sheen is matte, as its durability and elegance is often velvet-like. Eggshell is most useful for high traffic or service areas but doesn’t offer as much opulence, sheen-wise.

Create a mood board and lay out your tools before you start

Wait. Before you commit to a colour

Once you decide on a colour, you can get free paint chips and brochures from paint retailers, to check your colour at home. Some paint brands offer small sample containers to test run your colour on the wall. They can range from Dh20-50 and can be Solled easily by dipping a mini roller into the sample can. Just be aware that natural and artificial light can impact the appearance of your colour differently, so judging your samples at different times of the day in all possible lighting conditions is crucial.

Choice choices choices. It's a good idea to try them on the surface before you decide.

The tools you need

You will need to cover surrounding areas with drop cloths to prevent messy drips. Heavy canvas drop-cloths are most ideal and available at most paint retailers. Plastic is the next best thing but be aware that paint doesn’t dry very fast on it so you may want to drop an old bed sheet over the plastic if you don’t have a canvas painters cloth. The same goes for the floor. Cover your floor with plastic sheeting then a layer of cardboard roll or flattened boxes, to absorb wet-paint.

The only thing you need to know about choosing a brush is that natural bristles are for natural paints (oil-based) and synthetic bristles are for water-based paint. From here, there are many quality and price options that are equal to the density and quality of the bristles and the handle. There are flat and angled shapes, depending on your surface and grip. Just choose what is most comfortable for you. A 2 1/2 inch angled brush is the most common one for interior walls. As for rollers, there are full-size and minis, for convenience. Use a low-pile or 3/8 inch nap (the thickness of the fuzz on the roller) roller for interior water-based paint on walls. Also, never use the same roller for different colours.

Colour Specialist Toni Snyder

Toni Snyder is a Dubai-based American interior colour specialist and forecaster with more than 15 years experience. Her colour intuition maintains an impressive list of royal and celebrity clientele. She collaborates with designers, redefines spaces, inspires interior choices, and leads colour talks and master classes throughout the region and abroad.


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