How To Choose Paint Colors For Your Home

What is color overload? I’m glad you asked, it is this awful disease when one has hundreds of paint chips from many, many different stores, and a bag of them that they carry everywhere to get everyone’s opinion (I have this bag), but has yet to narrow down the field and make a DECISION.

Let’s say you have an entire house to paint (like I do). Where do you start when it comes to picking paint colors? I’ll give you one huge hint: it is not standing in front of thousands of paint chip colors at your local home improvement store.

So, now that I have learned things the hard way, I am here to share my secrets so you don’t endure the same trauma.

1. Find Some Inspiration. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT start at your local home improvement store! It is important to take a quick look around your current dwelling – at art, clothing, dishes, absolutely anything you have that brings you to your happy place. After you have exhausted what you have, go look at the stuff you don’t have, but you really want. I like to hit my local Barnes and Noble and raid the magazine rack, anything from architecture and design magazines to my favorite fashion mags. Now that you have an inspiration palette started, ask yourself some questions…

  • Am I a warm person or a cool person? (Think warm yellows and reds or cool blues and greens.)
  • Do I love loud, bold colors, or do I prefer a more toned-down version?
  • How do I want my space to feel?

Taking these tips into account will point you in the right direction when it does come time to stand in front of the foreboding paint chip wall (if it even comes to that!).

2. SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE. BUY SAMPLES! Once you have narrowed down your colors, make sure to buy…drum roll please…samples. Every color looks different on the wall than on that little piece of paper. You don’t want to buy gallons of paint before you’re sure. So go ahead and spend a few bucks on the samples, it may save you much, much more.  A few things to remember:

  • If you like a color on a paint-chip strip, go one shade lighter. All colors look darker on the wall.
  • Paint samples at least three feet away from each other; they can reflect off each other and become distorted.
  • Make sure to paint the sample in an area of the room that gets both sun and shade.

3. Pick what has been picked for you. Don’t be afraid to use the colors that have already been chosen for you by designers. Where can you find these? Well, it’s simple; they are in those fun, little books that different paint providers have waiting for you on that big wall of paint chips. These colors were chosen by designers because they work together. Now, don’t think that you are any less creative if you use these – it may save you a lot of headaches.

4. Going your own route? If you decide to brave that world of paint chip H . E. double hockey sticks, try to weave colors in and out of your rooms. If you have a big, bold color in your dining room, maybe mute it and have it as an accent in your living room. Or maybe paint some shelves in your laundry room the same color that you have in your kitchen. The possibilities are endless.

6. But will I like it? Simply see what it would look like before you paint the entire room. What? Then why would I have given you all this other amazing advice?  Well, there is a catch, websites such as Benjamin Moore have a snazzy tool, but will only let you try out their colors. So… upload a photo of your room and start painting!  Even if you don’t go with the brand whose site you are on, you will have a better idea of what a deep, dark green will look like in your dining room.

5. If all else fails, hire a consultant! If you have exhausted your choices and still are unhappy or unsure about your decisions, hire someone to help you make them. Many designers will charge by the hour for color consultations.

So, when you are ready to paint, remember these tips and enjoy the ride.

(written by by Dominique Charrette)

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