Hues at home: Palette helps homeowners decide on the best color combos

Painting a home's exterior can change the whole look. Photo: Elli Williams

Fretting about what color to paint your living room? Good news, the hottest trend is to give up on color altogether, according to Stephanie Snyder of Charlottesville’s high-end paint and home store Palette.

“People are cleansing those bright colors with more soothing colors,” she said. “Soft grays, pale blues, creamy whites—lots of whites—opens up spaces and lets the color shine through on artwork and accessories.”

Admitting as much must be tough for Snyder, as Palette’s forte is helping customers design the ideal color scheme for their home.

“The biggest obstacle for the consumer is color choice. Nobody wants to realize they made a mistake after they have paid for labor or done the labor themselves,” she said. “We try to get the color right in advance.”

Snyder said the easiest way to keep from making a chromatic mistake is to see what your colors will look like on the wall before committing. Lower end brands in particular tend to be brighter in application than on swatches, she said.

Finish is also an important consideration. Personal preference and wall quality should dictate which way you want to go among the traditional finishes—eggshell, matte, or semi-gloss—and a particularly popular trend these days is high gloss finish.

“The interesting thing is it is super popular right now, but they have been making it in Europe for 300 years,” Snyder said.

Ugh. Just one more trend the Europeans beat us by three centuries on.

Project management

Looking for help on a smaller project? Enter Pigment, the creative division of Piedmont Paint & Finish in McIntire Plaza, run by Pratt grad Christy Baker. Opened in summer of 2013, the bright shop can help with everything from designing

a mural for your interior wall to choosing the
best grellow for your vintage bar cart. Or maybe you don’t have a bar cart yet. That’s O.K.—the Pigment showroom also functions as a retail store, stocking folding screens, metal lawn chairs, dining tables, and more. Visit pigment to learn more.

The price of paint

The only rule to estimating the cost of a painting project is that there are no rules.

“It varies drastically,” said Charlie Davis, owner of Charlottesville-based Piedmont Paint & Finish. “If you have a historical wood house that has old oil and lead-based paint, for example, it can get up there.”

Davis prefers not to offer square footage pricing, instead quoting each job individually. That said, following are a few guidelines to use when thinking about what it might cost to paint your house.

Most homeowners spend between $3,741 and $5,087 on exterior painting projects, according to

Depending on the size of the house, expect to pay somewhere between $0.90 and $1.60 per square foot.

Exterior square footage is the actual measure of paintable area.

Higher quality contractors and/or materials will push the cost to the higher end of the range.

Project pricing will include both direct labor expenses and job materials and supplies, such as paint, masking tape and paper, surface repair material, solvents, and cleanup supplies.—S.G.