How to Get the Most Out of Your Color Consultation

So excited to announce this week that I am the official color consultant for Paintzen San Francisco! They’re basically “Uber for painting your home” (pardon the overused *tech analogy* description) – a super turnkey, totally online process, where you pick what you want to have painted, they’ll deliver a fair quote online, and then you can schedule licensed + insured painters to get it done. The thing is, you need to tell them what colors you want to use. And if you can’t decide, I’m your gal (at least in the SF Bay Area).

(And if you’d like some bonus reading, Paintzen featured me as their Designer of the Month – here’s my lil interview on their blog!).

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paint Fan Deck

Just one of several paint chip fan decks from Benjamin Moore! Soooo many colors.

But the world of colors is ridiculously daunting, with wayyy too many colors and brands to choose from. And if you’re hoping to paint your walls just once, or just once in a while, it might feel kind of overwhelming to distill all the options down to a final paint scheme and hope you get it right the first time (if you don’t, though, don’t worry – it’s literally just paint so you can always repaint or paint it back to the previous color). So, unless you have a knack for colors + color theory, getting help via a quick color consultation could be really helpful and save you a lot of time in the process!

Whether you choose to pay an interior designer to help consult on color, or just head to a paint store and talk to the store’s paint expert (some paint stores have in-house color consultants), here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your color consultation:

TIP 1: HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANT

Before diving into paint chips, first figure out your vision for the rooms / walls you want painted. Start on sites like Houzz or Pinterest, find inspiration images, and show your color consultant those images. If your heart is pulling you in different directions for a room, narrow it down to 2 different directions max. 3 is too many.

TIP 2: DO THE CONSULTATION DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS

The truest way for you to be able to see the differences across paint chips in the same color family is to view them in daylight. BUT after you take your paint chips home, it’s also important to take the time to view the paint chips (or paint samples, if you paint larger swatches on your wall) during the times you’ll be home. That means if you are always in the office 9-6pm, make sure to decide if you also like the color in the evenings when you’re home to enjoy your room.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paintzen Projects by Noz Design

These are 4 rooms I’ve had painted for my clients, all working with Paintzen. One plug for them is they have paint crews with the tools and skills to do wallpaper effects like stripes, herringbone, chevrons, etc.

TIP 3: FIGURE OUT WHAT DIRECTION YOUR WINDOWS FACE

If you’re doing a consultation in your space, your color consultant will know to assess what direction your sunlight comes from. If you’re headed to a paint store, figure this out ahead of time and make sure to tell the store expert! Especially with whites and light greys, paint colors can look completely different, depending on whether you have indirect north-facing light, western afternoon sunset light, or direct full exposure south-facing light! Your iPhone has a compass app (totally works!), or you can do a Google Maps search for your building to figure it out.

TIP 4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO BOLD

The great thing about paint is, even though it can make a room feel completely different, it’s really just paint (I know I just said this earlier, but it bears repeating!). Which means, even for a rental home, you can always paint it back. If you’re loving a dark or bold color, definitely ask your color consultant to select the right shade of that bold color. It’s likely that the paint chip will feel more muted than the inspiration photo you show, but trust the consultant: photos always deceive the actual color in real life, and end up looking brighter or more saturated in the photo.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Go Bold Even Exteriors

Speaking of BOLD… love that San Francisco has no rules about what color you can paint your house or building. This technicolor art deco fantasy is in the Castro on 17th Street.

FINAL TIP: END THE CONSULT WITH A MAX OF 3 OPTIONS

With as many paint shades as there are, you might be tempted to keep your options open with 4-5 paint shades that you hang on the wall. That is too many. By the end of your consultation, your consultant should help you land on 3 or fewer final options. Those 3 might be 3 very similar shades, or 2 similar shades and 1 totally different option – doesn’t matter. A max of 3 per room / wall will lead to a much more successful final selection, and less over-thinking. A good color consultation should close with you feeling confident about making a decision for your final paint color!

If you have any other questions or want advice on other parts of the color selection process, let me know anytime!

DIY: Painted My Outdoor Deck + Railings BLACK

Over the weekend, Hedge and I painted our deck + metal railings black. The joke is that I ran out of walls in the apartment to paint black, so I took my obsession outside. But it’s not a joke, because that’s actually what happened.

Tada!!

Tada!! (A typical bright + sunny summer day in San Francisco… ha)

Since moving into Chez Noz in 2010, I’ve gone through various stages of falling in and out of love with my deck: first, “Omg I’m just so happy and grateful to have outdoor space in a city!” Then, “Ugh maintenance of the deck is daunting. I shall avoid!” (which I did for over 3 years). Then, “Ugh I hate the railings – they look like prison bars – I need to replace them with fancy cable railings or I won’t be able to concentrate on my life.” To finally, “Okay, can’t afford to change the railings with my super-baby-DIY budget. What else can I do?”

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there.

BEFORE the prep work began!! That black spot Viv is lying next to is burn damage from a charcoal chimney being set down there. Don’t the unpainted metal railings look terrible?

I was also troubled with what to do about the burn damage mark on the deck, from when Hedge accidentally set his lit charcoal chimney down.

Then, an epiphany from the burn mark: I remembered how much I love shou-sugi-ban – a Japanese practice of charring wood for outdoor applications. The charring makes the wood rot- and pest-resistant, and also makes it beautifully black. So I decided, “Omg let’s paint everything outside black!!” I figured black would also make the existing railings feel more modern and sleek, which was my goal anyway with previously wanting new cable railings.

And now that it’s done I’m suuuuuper happy with the final results:

Closer look at the deck boards

Closer look at the deck boards + Viv’s lil face

TOTAL COST: $87! (Well, we only paid $77, but it WOULD have cost $87)

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum

The supplies we bought for this project: 1 gallon of Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint in Onyx, 2 cans of Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paint in Glossy Black (they SUCK), and 5 cans of Rust-Oleum “2x” paint + primer in Glossy Black.

Besides the deck paint (~$52 for a gallon) and spray paint (it took 7 full cans of spray paint, $5/can, but we only paid for 5 cans of the “2X” which is why we only spent $25 on spray paint vs. $35. Will explain in a bit about the Universal spray cans), we already had everything we needed from previous paint projects. Here’s the full supply list:

  • Deck paint (a gallon of the Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio paint will more than cover 2 coats of a 200+ square foot project. Our deck is about 110 square feet)
  • Paint roller + a paint tray for the roller
  • Paint brush for the trim work
  • Optional: a pole for the roller, so you can stand up while painting the deck (I just unscrewed the pool off a broom – the threads from broom handles tend to be the same as what screws into a paint roller)
  • Spray paint that works outdoors and on metal (we needed 7 cans for 2 coats along ~25 linear feet of railings – your quantity needed will vary based on how close together your balusters are)
  • Sand paper (medium + fine grit) and steel wool

We went with a top-down strategy and prepped + painted the railings first, then the deck.

First, prep work: we brought all the furniture, Hedge’s Weber smoker, and planters inside. Then we swept the deck. The most painstaking and time-consuming part of this project was prepping the railings, which is basically cleaning + sanding them (to remove rust and to prep the surface so the paint adheres). Side note: sanding metal railings SUCKS. Steel wool, or any metal abrasive, grating against another metal surface, is like nails on a chalkboard that you feel in your hands the entire time.

Next, we spray painted the railings, starting with the top rail, then the balusters, then the bottom rail. For all my previous posts about spray painting DIY projects, the railings were BY FAR the most ambitious spray painting endeavor I’ve completed so far. Two full coats, then touch-up for spots that we missed or were under-covered.

Pro Tip: get started prepping the railings early in the morning. That way you can start spray painting before afternoon winds pick up. Once the winds came, it was just comical to watch paint fly another direction and not hit the railings, so we had to finish up the next morning.

Product Tip: DO NOT use Rust-Oleum “Universal” spray paints. The coverage + quality of the paint is great, but the trigger nozzle is AWFUL. Within the first minutes of use, we realized the paint was leaking out of the trigger all over our hands, and every time we shook the cans (you need to shake spray cans regularly during use – see my other spray painting tips), paint was dripping and splattering ALL OVER the deck. In our case, we were going to paint the deck anyway so it was okay. But I would be livid otherwise. We returned the two Universal spray cans to the store (which is why they didn’t hit our budget), but not before this:

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

Tons of paint splatter from the terrible Universal spray cans. Not pictured: all the splatter on my legs and feet, and the drippage all over our hands and arms.

After we finished the 2 coats of spray paint on the railings, we moved on to the deck. We swept the deck again and used a spackling blade to get any pebbles or debris out from between the deck boards. Then I sanded down the burn mark aggressively to make sure that surface was smooth. Luckily the rest of the boards are still in good shape and don’t have splinters.

Painting a deck is pretty simple: like painting walls, you do the trim work first with a brush, then use the roller to fill in. The trick is to paint from the farthest side first, then move backwards closer and closer to the door, so that you don’t paint yourself in without a way to get off the deck while it’s wet. For good measure, we painted two full coats – but the coverage with the BM Floor & Patio was very good after just 1 coat. The other amazing thing about the Floor & Patio line is you can pick just about any shade that Benjamin Moore offers in its indoor paints. We chose Onyx because it’s a more dynamic color than Benjamin Moore “Black.”

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat!

Progress shot: you can see how opaque the coverage was after just 1 coat! The wonky sheen differences = sections drying differently because of the shade.

We also happened to paint directly over the stain that we applied about 20 months earlier. The stain was pretty worn down / no longer really sealing the boards from water, even though the red color was still there. Since our previous stain was water-based, it should be totally okay that we just painted over it without stripping the stain first (time will tell if this was in fact a huge mistake). If the stain had been oil-based, though, we’d have had to sand down and strip the deck boards first before painting.

However – since we painted over the stain, the paint actually took quite a bit longer than I expected to set in and dry. If we had completely sanded + stripped the deck boards, I think the paint would have dried and set faster.

We gave it a full 2 days before putting all the furniture + planters back out, but now that things are put back together, OMG I LOVE IT. The black deck feels so chic, and so unusual. It also has become such a cool blank canvas: the teal Acapulco chair looks SO rad now (rather than when the teal had to compete with a red deck).  And my little Black Rose Aeoniums look so rich and vibrant now:

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black versus my other succulents. Now they feel newly rich with color.

These Aeoniums used to feel so plainly black, but I LOVE their colors now against the black railings.

There are, of course, a few side effects to having painted everything black: the deck is hotter to walk on now (because, black), and if my shoes are a little dusty, they leave footprints more visibly. BUT, we live in San Francisco – it never gets that hot, and it’s a city, so dirt happens. Other than that, I’m thrilled with the end results and can’t wait to throw a “Deck Viewing Party” (aka: BBQ) later this summer.

What do you think?? Would you ever go #allblackallover outdoors?

How to Remove Graffiti from Your Building

Graffiti is pretty much everywhere. Sometimes it’s artistic, sometimes it’s drug/crime-related, and sometimes it’s just petty vandalism; but if you live in a city long enough, it often just becomes visual white noise – part of the texture of our urban landscape.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti before stairs

Graffiti on the inside wall of my building’s front stoop. Does anyone know if this is code for something?

… Until it shows up on my building. Then I’m pissed. I live on a “gentrifying” block of Hayes Valley in San Francisco where I’m surrounded on all sides by housing projects and a halfway house for ex-convicts. It’s usually a very quiet part of town, where everyone’s respectful of each other, quiet after 10pm, and fellow neighbors watch out for the block. But occasionally, you’ll wake up and someone has tagged “GIVE” twice on your building.

The problem with tagging is that it needs to be removed as soon as you discover it – not just because it’s easier to get spray paint / marker off the sooner you get at it, but also because if the tag is drug-related, leaving the tag there is a territorial signal to other drug traffickers in the area – and it could encourage additional tags to be graffiti’d over the original one (see also: the broken windows theory). In fact, some cities require building owners to remove graffiti within 3 days, or they’ll face a fine.

So, removing graffiti isn’t really one of those “I’ll get to it eventually” chores. The good news is the first removal step (which is the most critical – getting the graffiti off) takes like 5 minutes.

STEP 1: REMOVE THE TAG ITSELF

REMOVING PAINT ON WALLS: Usually, an ordinary paint thinner or paint remover does the trick in removing spray paint or regular-paint tags. Load up a rag with paint thinner, and if needed, bring in some steel wool or an abrasive sponge to help get stubborn paint off. There’s a good chance, though, that after you’re done, that area will still just look like there was graffiti recently removed (as opposed to looking like the graffiti had never been there).

REMOVING PAINT ON METAL SURFACES / POWDER-COATED METAL: Just like on painted walls, spray paint on metal / powder-coated metal usually comes out with paint thinner or paint remover. But if it is being stubborn, there is actually a product specifically intended to remove graffiti. We have it for our building (literally, simply, called “Graffiti Off”), and whatever’s in it, it works.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti Off

Online, you can only buy a 6-pack case of Graffiti Off. We got our bottle at the local hardware store.

REMOVING PERMANENT MARKER: If someone has graffitied your building with a Sharpie or other permanent marker, 1) they need to be slapped – it’s much harder than spray paint to remove; and 2) skip the paint thinner and go straight for the “Graffiti Off.” On metals, spray the graffiti remover directly on the tag, and rub it off with a rag. That should do the trick. On a painted wall, remove as much of the marker as you can with Graffiti Off, and then just skip to Step 2.

STEP 2: PAINT THE WALL OVER AGAIN

Because paint thinner / graffiti remover takes off spray paint, it will probably remove part of your actual building paint along with it (which is partially why, after Step 1, the area that was graffitied still won’t look right). And so hopefully, you, your building, or your landlord has leftover exterior paint. If not, grab a bunch of paint chips, color-match as best you can (don’t forget to note the finish – flat, eggshell, etc.), and get a high-quality exterior paint.

Then, wipe down the once-graffitied area w/ water and a little dish soap (to remove any residual paint thinner/remover), let it dry, and paint as you would normally with a roller.

Voila! The paint was still drying while I took this photo, so please pardon the splotchiness.

Voila! The paint was still drying while I took this photo, so please pardon the splotchiness. You can also see that the roller didn’t fit under the handrail, and I just left it because I didn’t have a brush at the time.

PRO TIP: Paint as much of the wall as you possibly can – not just where you took the graffiti off. Building exteriors fade really quickly because of weather and sunlight, so there’s a good chance that even if you have an exact paint match, it won’t look exact once applied. THAT is the great pain of graffiti removal – the only way to conceal the new paint and keep your wall from looking previously graffiti’d is to paint the whole wall over again.

NOZNOZNOZ - Graffiti After - garage and bannister

Here’s how different my building’s paint looks – the 2nd “GIVE” tag was to the right of the garage door. So I painted over that wall, the stoop bannister, and the wall with the mailboxes on it, up until I couldn’t reach anymore. There you can see the faded grayer older paint line.

On the bright side, taking care of this chore renewed my sense of pride in being a homeowner – and I broke a sweat before 10am on a Saturday! So there you have it: 2 steps to removing graffiti from your building and retain your sanity living in an urban setting.

SPRAY PAINT: Pro Tips

Do you ever get the itch to DIY something? Ever browse through Pinterest and think, “What a great little weekend project idea” and then realize that the rest of your weekends until Thanksgiving are already committed to weddings, bachelor(ette) parties, baby showers, and dinners? Sad panda that you can’t fit in time for your project ideas?

SOLUTION: SPRAY PAINT.

Honestly, spray painting stuff is one of the most instantly gratifying, quick-to-finish, and easy DIY endeavors out there. And at $5-9 a can, you could forego your Oprah Chai Tea Latte for 2 days and basically break even on a project.

Spray painting projects are also great because you can have zero artistic / crafty skills and still do a perfect DIY job. But if what’s stopping you is that you’ve never spray painted before, here are a few tips to do it well:

1. SHAKE THE CAN A LOT: Before you pull the trigger, shake the spray can for at least 2 minutes. Shake the can up and down, and then in an “X” pattern by twisting the can at your wrist. Bartending skills? Do as you would a cocktail. VERY IMPORTANT: Every 10-15 seconds of spraying, shake the can vigorously again – just to make sure the paint stays evenly mixed.

NOZNOZNOZ - Spray Paint Pro Tips - shakin it

Semi-pro tip: bringing music may help you remember to shake the can often, and with vigor.

2. CHOOSE GOOD BRANDS: For most home applications, Krylon spray paint is just fine, and conveniently available at almost every hardware store and craft store. Krylon paints come in matte or glossy finish and are available in many basic colors.

But the absolute best brand I’ve ever worked with is Montana BLACK – created for artists (available in San Francisco at the beloved Flax). The brand comes in 187 colors, and you can change the spray tops for wider spray patterns. Montana BLACK “Goldchrome” is THE closest to a true gold / gilded / gilt look that I’ve used (on the other hand, Krylon’s gold/chrome/silver paints end up looking like you used a metallic-colored spray paint, vs. actually mimicking the look of real metal). You can also find some Montana BLACK colors online.

3. SHORT + QUICK SPRAYS: The instructions on the can will say this too, but make sure to spray at least 6 inches from your subject, and in short, quick motions – you’ll need a couple coats of paint no matter what, so don’t worry if your first coat doesn’t feel opaque enough. Do not hold the trigger down for too long in one place or get too close to your subject, or else the paint will start to streak and drip down your subject, which is a total giveaway that you spray painted it.

4. MIND THE WEATHER: Whenever possible, spray paint outside (city dwellers, find a rooftop and bring a drop cloth). If there’s any breeze, spray in its direction, and try to shield your subject from direct wind to keep debris from blowing onto the wet paint and stick). If there’s humidity in the air, consider that it will take considerably longer for your coats of paint to dry. Rule of thumb: in a hot, dry summer day, 1 thin coat on a non-plastic, non-metal surface will take ~30 minutes to dry to the touch. Otherwise leave at least an hour between coats.

5. PRIME IT: For the smoothest finish, make sure your subject is primed. If the object is porous like wood, sand and smooth the surfaces you’ll spray paint. In general, I recommend using a primer spray paint, especially if you’re trying to paint something plastic. Primers will make your color more opaque and “true,” as well as improving paint adhesion. The Krylon Dual Paint + Primer series works pretty well for a 2-in-1, but I found that I’d get a grey haze sometimes when using the black matte paint, vs. other brands.

This is the Krylon primer in "Red Oxide" – since the Unicorno figurine is plastic, a primer coat was really important before applying the gold spray paint.

This is the Krylon primer in “Red Oxide” – since the Unicorno figurine is plastic, a primer coat was really important before applying the gold spray paint.

6. CHOOSE OBJECTS YOU WON’T TOUCH THAT MUCH: No matter how completely gratifying spray painting feels, the stuff is sadly not magic – it can still chip or pick up your fingerprints. The longest-lasting DIY spray painting projects will often those that you don’t plan to touch / handle very often – for example: picture frames, decorative objects on your shelves, table lamps, etc. I’ll share some of my flea market transformations in a future post.

There are lots of other tips that I didn’t include here, but you can google “spray painting tips” and find more useful articles, like this one!