A Primer on Paint Sheen

choosing paint sheenWe all know that choosing paint sheen (or finish) is one of the most difficult decisions for the average home owner. There are many different sheens and to complicate the matter paint manufacturers use a different array of names to describe more or less the same finish from brand to brand.  

What to consider when choosing paint sheen.

The proper choice of appropriate paint sheen is a matter of considering the type and function of the room, the amount and direction of natural light and to a lesser degree, personal taste and design goals.  

Semi-Gloss and High Gloss Paint.

The higher the sheen, the more reflection on the surface. This means every imperfection in the wall will be visible and available to scrutiny. Light will bounce off the wall, in effect, lightening the color of the wall. In certain situations, especially with dark color paint, you will literally see white/light patches on the wall. A high gloss paint is a terrific choice for an exterior front door where the shine creates a more formal look and the high gloss is robust enough to stand up to the wear and tear a front door takes.

gloss sheen paint

House and Garden

Millwork, doors and wooden moldings do well painted with a higher paint sheen. Here satin/pearl or semi- gloss work well. They stand up to fingerprints, the wet mop and more regular use.
high gloss walls

Livia Mucchi Roberto

High gloss on walls and/or ceilings have come into vogue in the past few years but this treatment works well in rare situations. In the first example above, gloss has been used on a ceiling creating reflections which bounce off the white walls which is the most reflective wall color there is. This is hardly a visually ergonomic design. In the green room, the paneled walls are painted high gloss but because of the uneven nature of the paneling the walls don't become a mirror-like lacquer surface and is therefore more livable.  

Eggshell Paint.

Rooms which are more trafficked or need to have walls washed regularly like a kitchen or bathroom are better with a low level sheen as those finishes create a harder shell and are easier to wipe down. I use eggshell for kitchens and bathroom walls and satin or pearl for cabinets. In this bathroom the wainscoting has been painted in semi gloss. Not only does this higher sheen look appropriate on the millwork but it will stand up to the water splashes from the sink better than a flatter paint finish.
semi gloss paint on wainscoting

Amy Krane Color

Matte Paint.

Rooms which don't take much abuse do best with a flat looking finish. They cover wall imperfections very well. Today's matte paints are billed as washable flats which allow for a certain amount of washing. (not scrubbing) The surface looks velvety and rich with a suede-like appearance and the color looks true, not adulterated by light reflections. I use matte whenever possible in a home. For even less reflection, a Flat paint finish can be used on the ceiling.
matte paint sheen

Amy Krane Color

Painting a Staircase.

Paint sheen for a staircase

Amy Krane Color

If you choose to use paint on your staircase keep in mind how much abuse it withstands. As you walk up a staircase the risers occasionally get scraped by a shoe. Bannisters are constantly handled. These are reasons to use a stronger, higher sheen like a satin or semi gloss paint. Ultimately, your own personal taste should inform your choice of paint finish but keep in mind it may be at the cost of practicality.

How to Create Curb Appeal

Well, summer is here and it's a great time to take stock of your home's curb appeal. By now your landscaping should be well out of the winter doldrums and producing its finest. Whether you are there for the long haul or thinking about selling, curb appeal is extremely important. People really do read a book by its cover and first impressions are hard to dispel.

What are the elements which create maximum curb appeal?

The home in this photo covers all of the bases.

Exterior siding or cladding.

Is it chipping, peeling or fading? If so, it's time for a paint job but this time of year you're going to find your painting contractors already booked through the end of summer, possibly even Fall. If you're unsure about color, find a color consultant whose reviews show a person of skill and knowledge who knows how to listen to what you want and translate that into a color palette that works for you. Choose a color palette which enhances the beauty of your home, befits your style of architecture, melds with your neighborhood and is in line with any Home Owner Association rules. The color palette should be appropriate for your region of the country and whether you like neutrals, deep colors or classic white, the front door is a place to add an element of fun and whimsy, not the body of your house.
Curb appeal

Hudson NY                         Photo: Amy Krane

Even if you've missed the boat to find a painter in the next month you can still improve the look of your home by cleaning the facade of dirt and mold. The power washer will be your best friend here.

Hardscaping and curb appeal. Curb Appeal

Your hardscaping will contribute in a big way to your curb appeal. Do you have a path which clearly leads to your front door? Way finding is key and such a path is important and welcoming. Is it in good shape? Are there weeds between your bricks, pavers or stone? Moss or a low ground cover like creeping thyme adds old world charm to the look of a pathway and a plant which sends a waft of perfume towards you as you step on it is an added bonus. Front porches add loads of curb appeal. They come in a host of different layouts from the wrap around you find on Victorians to a more simple front with a deck, balustrades and posts. Remember your porch and post style should match the architectural style of your house.

Landscaping and curb appeal.

Can't say enough about it. Plants add the final touch. Consider them the garnish to the dish. Different styles of landscape design work best with different styles of houses. Got a modern glass, concrete and/or steel home? Think monoculture - one type of shrub or perennial in a swath. Have a natural shingle cottage? Think English, cottage style plantings with more colorful mixed beds with a variety of heights, textures and blooming seasons. Have a formal Federal or Georgian style home? These houses call for either very minimal foundation plantings or the use of a more formal shrub like sculpted boxwood. Remember seasonality is important. It's a vote to have some evergreens which give you some green throughout the winter if you live in Northern climates. And don't forget about the flower pots. It's easy to go crazy with them but one or two interesting planters which contain either a mix of plants  which complement your house color or a bunch of red geraniums adds cheer to any front door. Curb appeal  

 Lighting is often overlooked.

Exterior lights serve many functions. Most obviously they allow you to make it safely from your car to your front door. But lights are wonderful accessories which dress your home's facade and give it a finishing touch. They come in hundreds of styles and finishes from sleek and modern to old world, from oil rubbed bronze to brass.                

The Address Font

Every detail pitches in to create curb appeal. Don't forget the font you choose for your address. The home below has craftsman architectural details so the homeowner, a designer, chose an appropriate font for her home address. Do you want a numeric address or to spell the number? Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 6.19.59 PM         In the end you need to pay attention to all of the details as they each contribute to the overall look. Maximize each element for the best overall impression like the home for sale below.

How to Choose Interior & Exterior Paint Colors For Your Home

how to choose paint colors Are you about to redecorate, renovate or build? Learn how to choose paint colors. Many people want to make their own color decisions but end up stuck, staring at color chips pasted to their wall for months. Choosing colors is difficult but the right color makes the difference between a home that makes you feel great, reflecting who you are and one which leaves you cold and uninspired. Exterior house color is the number one factor affecting your home's curb appeal and therefore its value. Learn how to choose paint colors which reflect your individual stye, the ambience you want to create and the decor you have. Nationally recognized Architectural Color Consultant, Amy Krane is an professional colorist sought by media outlets like Elle Decor, Consumer Reports, Domino, Family Circle and more. She has been awarded "Best of Houzz 2017" after receiving the same award 4 years running. This presentation, filled with visual examples, will walk you through how to choose colors. You'll learn the basics of color theory, what's important when choosing color, what's on trend and what kinds of color support a healthy environment. The 75 minute talk will have a Q & A following. Germantown Library, February 12, 2017. 1pm- 3pm.