Using Bold Color in a Small Space (and a Review of Valspar's New Reserve Paint)

I never sat down to create a color palette for this house, but I have been really attracted to soft greens and corals in the last year and a scheme has developed from there. The master bedroom and dining room are both green, though neither is anywhere near complete.

 (Benjamin Moore's Crystalline in the dining room)

 (We went with Benjamin Moore's Silver Crest in the bedroom)

 The guest bedroom is painted a neutral color (Benjamin Moore's Maritime White) and has coral bedding.

I usually go for muted paint colors, but living with so many cream colored walls for the last year made me want to do something bold in one of our spaces. I wanted to paint our front hall coral or pink. I originally consulted those paint features that House Beautiful puts together in their issues. If you aren't familiar, HB gets professional designers to recommend their favorite paint colors for each issue. They even published a special edition of all of the features together. When I looked for a great coral color, Benjamin Moore's Coral Gables came up several times. When I tested it, it was a bit too orange for me. I wound up sampling Hydrangea Flowers and Passion Fruit, which were both pink corals.

Benjamin Moore Coral Gables

Benjamin Moore Hydrangea Flowers

Benjamin Moore Passion Fruit

I ultimately decided that Hydrangea Flowers was my favorite, but I worried that it was a bit too strong. I decided to get samples mixed at 50% and 25% to see if either of those worked better than the full-strength color.

I usually have a pretty easy time picking a color once I get a little bit of it on the wall, but this time, I couldn't make a decision. I painted a bit on different walls, thinking that one color would stick out eventually. Nope.

So I decided to paint a larger part of the wall to make the decision easier. No help. I liked both strengths.

Benjamin Moore Hydrangea Flowers at 25%

Benjamin Moore Hydrangea Flowers at 50% 

I just kept painting, right on up the wall. I was starting to prefer the 50% strength paint, but I thought the 25% might look nicer with the painting of Olivia the sheep that I love so much.
Benjamin Moore Hydrangea Flowers, 25% on left and 50% on right

I have never had so much trouble picking a color! I stared. I left the room and came back. I opened the front door. I turned the lights on an off in the foyer and in adjacent rooms. By the time I settled on the 50% version, my Benjamin Moore store was closed. While at Lowe's for some supplies, I saw a sign for the new Valspar Reserve paint and thought that I might take a chance and "cheat" on Benjamin Moore's Aura paint, the paint I use pretty much exclusively since 2008. The rep at the paint counter said Reserve was Valspar's top product, comparable to Aura. The Valspar Reserve was about half the price.

So, here's my little review of the Valspar Reserve.

The freshly opened can of Valspar Reserve was as thick as Benjamin Moore's Aura paint. However, it actually congealed in the can as I worked with it. While I was cutting in, I noticed that it felt thicker and thicker as I moved along. By the time I was pouring the paint into a paint tray to roll out the walls, it was almost like pudding. It "plopped" into the tray. 

I was most disappointed by the coverage of the Valspar Reserve. While I never expect "paint and primer" products to cover in one coat, I felt as though the Valspar Reserve was a step down from Aura. Even though I loaded my roller well, there were spots where the paint wasn't adhering to the wall. Due to the congealing, there wasn't enough paint in a quart to go back over the trouble spots.

Ease of Use
One other thing I noticed was that if I brushed or rolled over paint I had just put down, some of the paint came back up! I have never experienced this with Aura, but it happened again and again with the Valspar. I wound up working double time to get cover the wall without dragging the paint off. I tried to take video, but it was too frustrating.

I don't think Valspar Reserve is terrible. If you are using a lower end paint, you might find it to be a nice upgrade. If you're already an Aura devotee, I don't think you'd be happy with this paint, though. I was rooting for Valspar in light of the price, but I think I'll happily pay for the Aura going forward.

A couple days later, Marc picked up a quart of Aura for me so I could go back over the room. I'm much, much happier now. 

If you've tried the Valspar Reserve, I'd love to hear about your experience. Perhaps I had a dud quart? The congealing was really bizarre!


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