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Step 8: Get physical samples.


In today’s digital world it is easy to think that everything can be done online. In the case of choosing interior permanent finishes for your home, you must get physical samples of your finishes before installing them. It is impossible to understand the true color of finishes unless they are compared next to one another in the rooms in which they will be installed.


The art of comparison.

Most homeowners or renovators will not source all their tile or stone selections from one source. Sometimes countertops come from one shop and backsplash tile another. Because not all tile and stone suppliers offer the same selections, I suggest you bring all samples of previous selections with you when choosing finishes from various sources. This will help you see colors in comparison to one another in the showroom. If you decide this combination works, purchase a sample, and compare them again in the space where they will be installed under natural and artificial lighting in the room.


Continue to gather all the physical sample finishes for the room. Samples of flooring, countertop, backsplash or tile surround, wall paint etc. are all needed to understand how these finishes and colors will come together in your room. Sometimes the undertones of your finishes clash and don’t look quite right. Check out my post: Step 2 – Identify which finishes will remain if you need to understand how to identify undertones in your finishes.


It is impossible to choose finishes one at a time without comparing them to the other finishes that will be installed in the room. Many designers create sample boards for this reason. A sample board is a quick way of putting all the samples next to one another to see the overall look. This will help you determine how the colors begin to play off one another. It is helpful to also choose metals for faucets and knobs at the same time to coordinate or compliment the color scheme of the room.


Compare new finishes with existing finishes.

Tile is specific to individual tile shops. For this reason, you will not find the exact same tile in each showroom. You might find something similar, but it may not be the exact same product or color lot.


Getting actual samples of tiles and stone allows you to compare the undertones of each finish. Travertine is a good example of this because some travertine stone flooring has a pink undertone, and some has a yellow undertone. This undertone will influence and be influenced by the other existing finishes in the room. Undertone can exist in every finish including white paint. Mixing undertones typically makes finishes look slightly "off" in a space or can make other finishes look “dirty” in comparison. It is helpful to coordinate undertones as best as possible.


Currently I am working with a client on flooring selection. This client was not repainting the walls of his home, so I needed to find something that coordinated with the yellow undertone in his off-white walls. I found two good options, but he was having trouble choosing between them. One was a porcelain tile wood flooring look and the other, stone travertine. I suggested he purchase a sample of each material. We placed the options horizontally on the floor in the room where the product would be installed. Both tiles looked great against the newly painted walls. We then placed them next to the existing tile on the fireplace which was not going to be replaced. One of the finish tiles turned a bit purple which was not a desirable effect. The other looked much better with the existing fireplace tile. The finish selection was much easier when we both saw the result.


Final thoughts.

Always get physical samples of all the finishes you are considering installing in your home.


Compare physical samples to a true white paint or white printer paper to identify the undertones in the finish material. Bring all samples with you when you are shopping for additional finishes for your home and choose finishes with similar undertones.


Always place the physical samples in the orientation in which they will be installed in the room and review the choice under the existing natural and artificial lighting. Compare all new finishes to those that will remain in the room.


Getting physical samples will help you choose the right finishes for your home. The goal in the end is to have a home you love to come home to.


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