Find your color

Hello.  My name is Jan Stearns. I am a sucker for color quizzes.

I had a lot of feedback from the last color quiz I wrote about.  Sooo…I just had to take another quickie quiz that I found on, ‘Find Your Color,’ which will supposedly help you create color schemes perfect for your home and personality.

Take the quiz here > > (Scroll midway down the page for the link)

What were your results?

Apparently, I am Warm & Vibrant!

“You are a sunny, energetic person who needs the same kind of colors surrounding you. Your ideal color palette consists of yellow, orange and red. Opt for deeper tones for a warm look and feel. Lighter, brighter tones produce vibrancy and stimulation.”

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(Harry’s wife, unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)


Cool Ideas for Chalkboard Paint

A young couple with small children hired Harry to re-paint a number of rooms in their new house.  The clever couple asked Harry to create an eco-friendly message center (a modern-day bulletin board) using chalkboard paint (which looked similar to this image, right, I found at  Benjamin Moore’s Studio Finishes Chalkboard Paint (307) is easy to apply to almost any surface in your home.  All you have to do is buy some chalk and an eraser.  Voila…a message center for jotting down phone messages, menus, reminders and grocery lists – and without wasting paper and adding to our landfills!

Harry also created an entire chalkboard wall in the children’s playroom (similar to the image, below) – a fun canvas to encourage creativity!  With a chalkboard wall, hopefully children won’t feel drawn to paint or color on your other walls!

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Other ideas for chalkboard paint:

  • IIn the kitchen, frame a chalkboard square on the wall with decorative molding or a colorful paint to display the day’s menu. This can be a great touch for special family meals and when entertaining guests.
  • Kids love to draw on “forbidden” surfaces like tabletops or closet doors. Turn these surfaces into wondrous canvases with chalkboard paint and multicolored chalk–they’ll love it, and it’s easy to clean up.
  • Personalize your coasters with chalkboard paint for just about any occasion. Use them as name cards at your dinner parties, draw storks on them for your best friend’s baby shower, or use magnetic tape to put them on your fridge as mini-blackboards. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.]
  • Do you have to rummage through your storage bins every time you need to find something you put away? Problem solved: Just paint chalkboard squares on your bins and label them. It’s a great way to keep things organized. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.]
  • A home office is the ideal spot for a family planner. Coat part of a wall with chalkboard paint and create four weeks’ worth of squares in a variety of chalk colors. Use it just like a regular planner for events, reminders, school schedules, and lots more.
  • If you enjoy growing herbs indoors, paint terracotta planters with chalkboard paint and label them with chalk to keep track of exactly what’s growing where–from basil to mint. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.)Cheers!Jan
    (Harry’s wife, unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)


Clever Idea: Turn a closet into an office!

The office for Harry Stearns Painting is in our living room, which is open to the kitchen and TV room.  That means the over-stuffed file folders, overflowing stacks of paper, calculator, notebooks, binders, scrap paper, computer, printer, phone, papier mache turtle, etc. are out in the open for all to see.  I’ve always dreamed of having a proper office.  But with two kids, a dog, a cat, and a small house, there’s just no room.

…or is there?!

Have a spare closet?  The clever folks at The Family Handyman show how you can turn a spare closet into a compact, efficient office.  If you ask me, the most attractive part of this project is the fact that you can shut the door(s) and hide your office clutter!

Don’t you just love the paint color!?   Image found on The Family Handyman

Office project overview: Features, tools and cost

Image found on The Family Handyman

Is your home office a mess? Do you need a spot to organize your kids’ schoolwork and projects? Or do you just want to get your office stuff out of sight when you have guests? We’ll show you how to solve all these problems by turning a spare closet into a super-organized office.

In this story, we’ll show you how to build and install wall shelf cabinets, a countertop and under-mount drawers, including how to adjust the dimensions to fit these projects in your closet. We’ll also show you an easy way to conceal all those cords that usually dangle down behind the desk. We’ve included a Materials List (See “Additional Information” below.), but you’ll have to adjust the quantities to fit your closet. The project shown here is constructed with birch plywood and boards and cost us about $400.

This is a great project for any intermediate to advanced DIYer. There’s no complicated joinery—the wall shelves and drawers are just wooden boxes that are screwed together. We used a table saw to cut the plywood, a narrow-crown staple gun to attach the shelf backs and drawer bottoms, and an 18-gauge nailer to attach the face frames. If you don’t have these tools, you can use a circular saw and straightedge guide to cut the plywood, and a good old-fashioned hammer and nails. It will just take a little longer.

Click here to read more >>>


(Harry’s wife, unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)

Gray is the color of the day

I just finished reading the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine and amidst the bright colors of summer featured throughout the magazine I was surprised to find the monthly featured color choice is gray. Driftwood gray to be exact. According to the article, “There’s a new gray in town, and it’s not the cold, steely hue you’re used to.  These go-with-everything shades,  inspired by weathered wood, radiate warmth.”

I was skeptical.  Summer’s all about sunny yellows and ocean blues, right?  But, I turned the page and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the gray, especially layered with more traditional summer colors.  (Pick-up a copy of the BH&G July 2012 issue to see what I mean.)

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I was just cruising around HGTV’s blog and found that their color of the month for July is –  you guessed it – gray, although they use the other spelling, grey!

Marianne Canada, contributor to Design Happens, writes, “It’s officially the dog days of summer, at least it is here at HGTV headquarters. The temperatures have been coming in over 100 degrees and everyone has taken to the air conditioning. When it’s sweltering outside, you probably think of hot colors like Pantone’s Tangerine Tango, or maybe an intense chili pepper red. But this month we’re making a case for what might seem an unusual choice for July: Driftwood Grey.

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“I know what you’re thinking, grey? For summer? But bear with me. Instead of thinking of stark, cold, wintery tones, picture the weather-beaten, sun-warmed grey of boardwalks and beach houses. We love how it pairs with sunny hues, but it looks equally great set off by neutrals.

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Lili’s Driftwood Grey Pinterest board won our team over with its great use of the color, inside and out. When pitching her choice, she summed it up perfectly, “Driftwood grey evokes coastal climates for me, particularly the New England coastline. I think of sunbaked and wind-battered shingles on Cape Cod and gorgeous pieces of water-worn, knotty tree trunks. This is the lighter, breezier cousin of flannel grey and perfect for summer.”

What do you think? Are you feeling Driftwood Grey in the heat of this sultry summer?

(Harry’s wife, Harry Stearns Painting unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)

Favorite exterior paint jobs

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Harry’s painted a lot of homes in the past 30+ years.  You’d think with all of the paint and stain colors Harry’s applied to houses that it would be easy for him and I to choose a color for our own house.  It’s not!  Our house has natural red cedar siding with a clear preservative on it.  We have spent – literally – years trying to agree on a stain color.

I just found a slide show of California Paint’s favorite exterior paint jobs. Guess what? I think I found my favorite color combination. Do you think you can guess which one it is?! (Hint: It’s NOT this one!)

Take a look here.

…Now to see if Harry agrees!

(Harry’s wife, unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)

See your favorite color combinations come to life!

See your favorite color combinations come to life with Benjamin Moore’s new Rooms by Color gallery online!

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My favorite color is green and my wife’s is blue. What do you think of this children’s room painted green with blue accents?

Rooms by Color
Now you can see your favorite color combinations come to life online at with just a few clicks. Rooms by Color will display eight room types in stunning, perfectly coordinated color palettes drawn from eight of Ben Moore’s most popular color families. Find the perfect color scheme for every space in your home, room by room.

Eggshell, flat, semi-gloss. What’s your go-to sheen?

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According to Debbie Zimmer, Editor of Paint Insights at the Paint Quality Institute blog, when it comes to selecting an interior paint for your home, there’s more to consider than quality and color. Most paints come in a variety of sheen levels – as many as six, depending upon the brand – and some are better suited for certain rooms than for others.

Paints with flat sheen are most common. They offer several advantages: being non-reflective, they tend to conceal imperfections in walls and other surfaces; they help to make uneven surfaces like poorly taped drywall look smoother and more uniform; and many hide the under-color well, since they typically contain a lot of pigment.

Flat paints are a good choice for just about any ceiling, and for rooms and spaces that aren’t exposed to water, high humidity, or heavy soiling… such as bedrooms, home offices, and living rooms.

At the other end of the sheen spectrum are paints with gloss or high gloss sheen. Being very reflective, gloss paints tend to highlight imperfections in walls and woodwork. But they are especially tough, durable, and stain-resistant – and, they are much easier to clean than paints with less gloss.

High gloss finishes are ideal for use on windows and trim, children’s rooms, and playrooms. And since they have better resistance to mildew, they also are a great choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Paints with semi-gloss sheen are a smart compromise between the two sheen extremes, providing some of the benefits of each. Since they are not as highly reflective as gloss paints, they won’t show surface imperfections quite as much; yet they still offer good stain resistance and are easy to clean.

Semi-gloss paints are extremely versatile, working well on windows and doors, trim, even cabinets. They can even be used on the walls of kitchens and baths, and various surfaces in children’s rooms and playrooms.

Most lines of paint have at least a couple more sheen levels from which to choose. The descriptions vary, with eggshell, satin, and low luster sheen being the most common. Again, the best way to think of these sheen levels is in terms of their performance: Being less “shiny” than either gloss or semi-gloss paints, they won’t highlight nicks and surface imperfections quite as much, but since they have at least a little gloss, they’ll be easier to clean than flat paints.

Where to use eggshell, satin and low luster paints? Paints in these sheen levels pretty much have the run of the house, working well just about anywhere you need the blend of performance attributes they offer.

At first blush, it may seem confusing having to choose from so many sheen levels. But once you understand what each has to offer, you’ll appreciate the luxury of being able to “calibrate” the exact combination of paint attributes you want in every part of your home.

For more information on interior paints and sheen levels, visit the Paint Quality Institute blog at or the Institute’s website at