10 Tips For Choosing The Right Paint Color


Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend! We enjoyed a lazy Saturday with a trip to the farmer’s market Watermelon Festival and grocery shopping. And then I got away for a few minutes to TJ Maxx – my happy place. I found some treasures that will be making an appearance on the blog this Fall. They are so cool.

Anyway, on to today’s post – 10 Tips For Choosing the Right Paint Color! I have loved color for a long time…as long as I can remember, in fact. Two of my favorite classes in design school were on color theory. I cried in frustration, I laughed when I finally got a project just right and I learned the “whys” behind colors. Even though I’m home with my boys most of the time, I do run out on paint consultations every so often. I love it!

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Today, I’m sharing the tips and tricks that I’ve learned and practiced over the last several years. Knowing how to choose the right paint color will also be easy on your budget if you get it right the first time. 🙂

1. For the love of all things beautiful, DO NOT go straight to your local home improvement store, choose a color under those horrific lights, buy two gallons and tote it home. Please.  Your walls thank you in advance.

Trust me.

2. What looks good in my house might look awful in yours. And vice versa.

This actually happened to me a few months ago. I loved the look of Sherwin William’s Comfort Gray in several rooms that I had seen online. Without doing much research I painted my dining room and it was wayyy too blue. Not what I was going for at all. I should have followed my own advice and gotten a few sample pots.

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3. Find your inspiration piece.

Your inspiration may be something you already have – a piece of fabric, a chair, a pillow, a piece of art. Go old school and look through magazines or use Pinterest. Either way, decide what colors you are drawn to.

4. Take advantage of paint sample strips.

Again, trust me. If you can get your hands on a paint deck {see the photo above} that would be even better. If you don’t have a paint deck and you don’t know anyone who does, you can usually get them on loan from your local paint store. If these aren’t options, then take paint samples liberally enough so you can go on to the next step.

5. Look for color undertones and compare samples. This is not rocket science. You don’t have to freak out. I will show you what I mean.

It is very helpful to compare paint samples to white. It is the easiest way to determine what undertone a color has. See the above picture. If you look carefully, you can see that each paint sample strip has an undertone – green, blue, red, yellow. The neutral strip is pretty much just that – neutral.

6. Tape the paint samples to the wall and look at them during different times of day.

It is very important that you look at the paint samples in different light {both natural and manmade}. Give the samples a good stare  – morning, noon and night – and you’ll be well on your way to step #7.

7. Use process of elimination. Also…squint.

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As you look at the paint samples color undertones and see them in different lighting, you will begin to determine which ones you love and which ones you don’t  This is the beautiful process of elimination. It rocks. If a color makes you hesitate, scratch it. You might think that squinting sounds funny, but if you squint your eyes, often colors are easier to figure out.

8. Get sample pots of a few paint samples that you like best.

Please do not skip this step. Especially if you are painting a large area. Get sample pots of 2-3 {or 10, I’m kidding!} and paint them on the wall in a few different places. I like using el cheapo foam brushes that I can just throw away when I’m done. This is the final step in the paint sample elimination process. Either you love a color or you don’t.

9. It will end up darker than you think.

I realize that when looking at a paint strip of colors from light to dark, it’s very tempting to be all dramatic and go super dark. Once a color is on all four walls, it’s going to be more dramatic {dark or need-your-sunglasses-bright} than it looks on that innocent little paint strip.

10. Less saturation is more.

I just touched on this point, but a slightly grayed paint color is going to be more subtle and classic than a color that requires sunglasses. My recommendation is to go for less saturation rather than more. I can’t tell you how many times a client has tried to find that perfect yellow color and unfortunately it looks like “the Man With The Yellow Hat” came for a visit. A soft, buttery yellow is much more pleasing, even though it looks more pale on a paint strip.

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One last note – If you’re cheap like me, color match. I primarily use Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams in my design work. I don’t really have a preference, so either is fine. However, I’m a tightwad and pretty much always have their paint color matched. It’s not always a “perfect” match, but it’s a good-enough-for-me-match. 😉

If you’re preparing to make paint selections for a new house or a room remodel, I hope you will use these tips for choosing just the right paint color! If you have questions, hit me up in the comments!

Have you ever had a paint color fail? Has it sometimes taken a while to get the color just right?



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