Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

Sharing a few simple tips for choosing paint colors.

Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

Choosing a color when painting a room can sometimes be daunting. Deciding what direction to go in not only depends on your style and room design, but other factors like lighting, number of windows, size of room, flooring, and furniture.

Over the years I’ve painted my share of walls. As I’ve mentioned before, my husband, Randy kids me about losing square footage to layers of paint in our former homes, because how many times I changed my mind, or didn’t pick quite the right shade.

Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

Many factors can affect color in a room. As I mentioned before lighting, number of windows, color of flooring, and furniture, in addition to time of day, can all affect color, so when choosing a color, give yourself time to consider and evaluate color swatches in different parts of the room as well as different times of day. Don’t get in a hurry. Running into a paint store and picking a color and immediately purchasing it seldom ends well. Even a color you fall in love with in a friends home may look very different in your own. So take the time to do a few simple things before buying that gallon, (or three).

A few simple tips I’ve learned when choosing paint colors:

Always see it in person. Choosing your final color from an online source or a magazine without checking it out first in the space that will be painted is not a good idea. Computer screens or printed materials (other than paint swatches) do not show accurate color so are not ideal for selecting final colors. They may be a good place to start, but don’t choose a final paint color without seeing it first in person. Even an online suggestion from a professional should be viewed in person.

A plain white piece of paper can help in a big way. When I shop for paint colors, I usually know pretty much what I’m looking for, but pick up several—I mean several—swatches in a range of tones similar to what I’m shooting for. I take them home, place them on a white surface—not off-white, not pinky-white, just white—as white as I can find (I’ve found a simple piece of poster paper or printer paper works great. Once you place color swatches on a true white in your space, you can see what the color will look like. Will it have a yellow cast or a blue one? Is it looking pink? Is it not warm enough? Initially I will narrow down the selection. I then move the piece of paper with the narrowed down swatches around the room, and check it at different times of day, as well as view it vertically by taping it on the wall. I continue to delete/narrow down throughout the process. Generally it takes a full day or so for me to monitor the color swatches and how they change throughout the day with light, and placement.

Once you pick a color, get a sample mixed up to test. I know it’s a pain, especially if you’re in a hurry, but unless you’re well-versed in color selection, or have used a color before that you are repeating, taking the time to test can be invaluable. Paint a small section of wall, as well as a piece of white poster paper (on the dull/matte side). The painted poster paper is easy to move about the space and tape to different walls, or place next to trim, furniture or other features to get a general idea of how it will look. Colors can vary greatly depending on the room. The amount of windows, type of flooring, and the size of the room are a few factors that can affect how a color will look in your space. Recently while working on the retreat remodel, I chose a paint color that looked totally perfect in one room and not so much in another. It turned out after much observation and comparing swatches again, that the difference had to do with the flooring. Very yellow and warm heart pine flooring was in one room, while a cooler hardwood was in the other. It made for two totally different end results even though it was the same exact color. So take time to view selected swatches, and then test with color samples in the rooms that it will be used in.

Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

I do hope these tips help as a place to start for the next time when choosing paint colors.

Happy painting!

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Comments

  1. 4

    Rhonda says

    I just had a bedroom painted. I wish I had read this first. I brought home all the color swatches. However my mistake was I taped it on the wall of my living room because I wanted to use the color in both rooms. My flooring is two different colors. I bought Behr Subtle Gray… I am not pleased at all. The bedroom has gray carpet. The result was PINK walls! I am so disappointed

    • 5

      says

      So sorry to hear Rhonda. Don’t beat yourself up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to repaint. Small color swatches can be so deceiving. I hope you get it worked out!

  2. 6

    says

    I really want to paint my walls, but I always feel so stonewalled when it comes to choosing the right colors to butt up against each other in separate spaces. I’ve been wanting to update the kitchen space, but the living room color that’s adjacent keeps giving me pause. I love the tips. I’ll have to give them a go as I make preparations for this.

  3. 7

    says

    I am having such a time getting the right paint color in our family room and adjacent spaces/hallways. I want a warm gray, and it’s super frustrating. I know what your husband means about losing square footage in paint layers!!!!! :(

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