Yesterday, I revealed the color we chose for my daughter M’s room. But how did we settle on that color? Choosing a paint color can be daunting. Here’s how to choose a paint color before you tackle painting a room.
1. Have an Inspiration.
Before you start looking at the giant wall of paint chips at the paint or hardware store, find an inspiration for the room.
For example, the color scheme in our family room all came from the floral pillow on the couch. Taupe, yellow, and teal – all from that one pattern.
In M’s room, the inspiration was the teal/green color scheme of the picture in the magazine she found.
Take something that you love that’s either already in the room or is something you found that you want in that room, and pull the colors from that piece.
What if you don’t have an inspiration piece, or you want to paint a room white but you don’t know the “perfect white”? Ask someone.
For example, when I wanted to paint my kitchen white, I needed a shade that would play nicely with the dark gray countertop and light gray cabinets. So, I asked my friends, posted a question to Facebook, and checked some of my favorite design sources for advice. I ended up with Decorator’s White, which was the perfect shade for our kitchen!
2. Pick a Hue.
When looking at paint chips, keep in mind that the actual color might look different once it’s on the walls. The light in the room – both natural and artificial – plus what else is in the room can change the shade of the color.
For example, when we were looking at these green colors, on the paint chip, the paint on the right – Paradox Green – looked just like a deep green. But, when we got it on the wall, combined with the white trim and the other greens in the room, it read a little brown.
Moral of the story: you can rely somewhat on paint chips, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you use. Which brings me to maybe the most important point:
3. Slap Some Paint on the Wall…
…Or on a poster board or foam board or something that allows you to see the color in the room.
I usually just paint squares of the color on the wall. But painting squares of colors on poster board and holding it up to the wall works the same way.
The idea is to put enough paint on the wall (or board) to see what the color looks like actually on the wall, and at different times of day with different amounts of light. This will provide the most accurate view of what the paint will look like on the wall.
Just remember, if you have multiple paint colors, number them or do something to remember which is which!
4. Make Adjustments.
What if you like a color, but it feels too dark? Or too light? You have a couple of options.
First, check the paint chip and see if you can use the color that’s a shade darker or lighter. That way, you know that you’re in the same color family, but you can change the shade of the color.
Second, if you want a lighter color, add white! You can lighten by a certain percentage (say, 25% white added to a color) and the paint store can help you with that. Or you can just wing it and add white until you get the shade you want. Just make sure that, if you wing it, you use a pure white that’s in the same sheen (i.e., flat, eggshell, etc.) as the paint you’re trying to make lighter. Which brings me to my last point…
5. Pick a Sheen.
Once you’ve gotten the color you want, you have to decide what sheen or finish you want: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or gloss (in order from least shiny to most shiny).
Generally, in older houses, flat paint works best. It’s more true to the original style of the house. The downside is that flat paint generally is hard to clean (although this has changed recently; paint companies are making easier-to-clean flat paint).
For kitchens or bathrooms, choose eggshell or satin finish. The added sheen in the paint will make these high-traffic and often wet areas easier to clean.
Choose semi-gloss or gloss paint for trim and doors.
And then you’re ready to paint! Don’t forget supplies – click HERE for my favorites!
For tips on prepping a room for paint, click HERE.
Choosing a paint color can be difficult, but I hope these steps make it easier! If you ever want paint color help or advice, please let me know – I’d be happy to help you with paint color choices!
Thanks for all this information, Karen. The paint samples are on their way, expect delivery on Monday. We will then paint poster boards with each color and hang them on the wall. Weekends are the best for us because we can walk in the room at different times of the day to check out the colors. That’s what we did with the small paint chips. The color palette in the room right now is all neutral sandy-beachy-driftwoody tones, but I do have two toss pillows on the couch with touches of blue in them. Now that I look at them, with the small paint chips taped on them, this will definitely help with color selection, too! Thanks for the tip!
Karen Cooper says
Excellent! I agree – it’s best to check the paint color throughout the day. Good luck!!