Primer to Perfection: The Ins and Outs of Paint

Paint can be one of the most important pieces of a space, and doing it well is crucial to making sure your space is amazing.

Learning Sheens and Tones


You may be wondering to yourself, what is a sheen? A sheen is the amount of shine in the paint. The amount of shine in your paint can make it easier or harder to clean when it gets dirty. If you have kids or grandbabies, you know that walls get dirty and being able to clean them can be really important! 

Types of sheens include the following (in order from least to most shiny):

  • Flat/Low 
  • Matte
  • Egg Shell 
  • Satin 
  • Semi-gloss
  • High-gloss

I will use Flat/Low or Matte on the ceiling, Eggshell or Satin on walls and for the base and case. I prefer Satin as long as the painter preps well, but Semi-gloss is always a safe option and still looks fabulous!


If your builder or painter is talking about 1, 2 or 3 tone walls, as long as you know about sheens, you can understand them like a pro! You will also be able to answer their questions with confidence.

  • 1 tone means: one color equalling one sheen on the walls, ceiling, and base/case. 
  • 2 tone means: one color with two sheens, such as Satin for walls and base/case, and then Flat on the ceiling. 
  • 3 tone means: one color and three sheens, Flat on the ceiling, Eggshell on the walls and Semi-gloss on the base and case. 

Note: You could choose 1-3 different colors if you’re doing a 3 tone paint system as you’re already changing the sheen/tones…but we’ll get into this more below…

Now that you understand Sheens and Tones, let’s get to the fun part!

Having Fun with Sheens!

Color on Color

White on white on white or any other color. This means you will have one color on your ceiling, walls and base/case but 3 sheens in the space, creating dimension between each part of the wall.

One Color

What has been most popular the last couple of years is one color, but 3 sheens. We have perfected the art of the soft white palette home using the same color, but flat on the ceiling, eggshell on the walls and satin on the base/case/doors.

Two Color

This was popular for a long time before the one color took over, but is starting to come back around. This is when you will paint your walls and ceilings both the same light color, not white, and your base/case, white. OR you paint the ceiling and base/case one color, with the walls being the other color. The third option we have done is the walls and ceiling in white and the base/case in a truer color. SOOO many options!

Three Color

You can do one color on the ceiling, one color on the walls and then one color on your base/case! Most of the time it would be a waste to do this as you would normally do your white on the ceiling and the same as the white on the base/case. BUT…you could do the 3rd color on your DOORS:) 

Maybe the THREE colors would be fun in a playroom! The ceiling in a bright color, the walls in another fun color and then painting the base/case with yet another fun color!


Paint stripes with the same color but different sheens, eggshell and semi-gloss. You can see the stripes because the sheens are different. You can do this with any kind of pattern you want!

Color Block Walls

We have done color block walls before as well. This is where you paint a true color up roughly ⅔’s  of the wall finishing the top ⅓ with the white of your ceiling. This adds a little visual interest with not much added cost!


Your millwork walls should be painted in the higher sheen like your base/case. Such as shiplap…this should be painted in the satin/semi gloss finish. BUT, if you are doing an applied pencil mould treatment on the walls, you may want the drywall to be eggshell and the trim itself to be the satin or semi gloss. This will make the millwork stand out so beautifully.

Tips and Tricks

Paint can, and should, be fun…but there are some things you won’t want to forget as you make paint decisions.

  • The texture of your drywall WILL affect the way your paint looks! If you have a heavier texture, you will want to opt for a lower sheen. With a smoother texture you can go with a higher sheen.
  • Lower sheens will do a better job hiding imperfections than a higher sheen. 
  • If you choose to paint an entire room a dark color there is no right or wrong way to do the ceiling, you could do it  light or dark, BUT you will want to use a lower sheen as darker colors will be more reflective in a higher sheen than lighter colors. 
  • If you are painting a dark accent wall, make sure to paint the baseboard the same color. You don’t want this to stand out! This is typically only for dark accent walls. 
  • If you opt for wallpaper on a wall, you NEED to prime first. This will make it so the wallpaper can be removed in the future without ruining the drywall.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you be informed and allow you to create beautiful spaces in your own home. Don’t forget to have fun and be creative!



meet allison

What I love most about what I do, isn't necessarily the beautiful home at the end of the project, but it's the journey I love getting you there!