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Painting Basics

Start your painting project off right with TV art director Anduin Havens's top tips for choosing the perfect paint and tools for the job.

The Martha Stewart Show, May 2012

How to Choose a Paint Color

Let something in the room inspire your color choice, such as a living room rug. Use it as the basis for the colors in the room to help tie everything together. A favorite photo, a piece of art, a duvet cover, or a distinctive piece of furniture are great ways to figure out which color you will want to use. (Tip: Paint a swatch and live with it for a few days before you paint the whole room.)

How to Choose a Paint Finish

Satin: Works well in old houses with uneven walls since its soft finish helps minimize imperfections.
Semigloss: easy to clean; use on trim, doors, and other high-traffic areas that are prone to fingerprint marks
Gloss: durable and shiny; perfect for furniture. The glossy finish catches light and shows off the curves of furniture pieces.

How to Select the Right Tools

Drop cloth: If you paint a lot, invest in decent canvas drop cloths. They are safer than plastic (you and your pets won’t slip), they won’t rip, and they cover everything nicely.
Blue tape: to create clean corners
Roller: good for large areas; choose a deep-pile roller cover for textured surfaces and a low-pile roller cover for smooth surfaces like walls. Use an extension stick for reaching high areas and the ceiling.
Angled brush: use to "cut in" where the wall meets the molding. (Tip: Clean brushes with gentle soap and warm water and dry upside down.)


Canvas and plastic drop cloths, blue tape, roller and roller covers (low pile and high pile), extension stick, Purdy angled brush, and Martha Stewart Living interior paint (colors: Bedford Gray, Tadpole Green, and Buckwheat Flower) available from The Home Depot.

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