Picking the right paint color


Ever watch one of those house hunting shows where a person finds their dream home but, oh my god it’s in a hideous color? Suddenly the home is completely off the table as if something like other paint colors doesn’t exist.

While this can be frustrating or humorous it also shows the power of paint.

Paint color can make or break a room. It can bring a home together, make it look updated, or it can make it feel segregated and dated. With so many options out there though, finding the right color can be a daunting task. Between balancing what’s currently in style and your own personal tastes, it’s a big decision.

Here are a few tips for picking the right paint color for every room.


1. Don’t pick paint color first

Paint color should actually be the last thing you pick in a room since it has the most options and can easily be changed. It’s also what brings together a room. Maybe you have flooring and furniture that you think doesn’t quite go. The right paint color can change that. When designing a room, you’ll find it’s so much easier to match a paint color to décor than décor to a paint color. So an easy rule of thumb is to pick paint last.


2. Find your inspiration

Pinterest and Instagram are great places to start for room inspiration. You can also look up color palettes online. Just find rooms you like and once you have a few ask yourself what you like about each room.

Inspiration can come from anywhere too. A mug, a blanket, a tree, a memory, or someone else’s home. Don’t be afraid to build off of anything that you like.


3. Stick to neutrals

Now you don’t have to avoid color altogether, but you do have to use it in a smart way. Color is good, but you have to pick a focal point for a room. If you want that to be the walls then, by all means, pick a bright paint color. But if your furniture is bold, maybe pick a neutral to compliment it instead of fighting for attention.

Some rooms beg for boldness. Bathrooms, especially powder rooms, look great with bold patterns, bright colors, and interesting design. It works because almost everything else in bathrooms is neutral (usually white sink, toilet, shower etc.).


4. Test paint colors

Almost any place you can buy paint will let you get tester cans. These are large enough for you to paint a few areas to try out the color. Take advantage of this. Make sure the test swatch is wide enough for you to get a good look. Also, don’t judge the color until it is completely dry.

Home builders also recommend trying the paint on every wall in the room. This will help you see how the color would look in every type of light. It’s a good idea to also look at it at various hours of the day. A color might look great in morning sun but just not work in the evening. Leave the test areas up for about a week, looking at them periodically. This will give you the best idea on which color will work.


5. Test colors against furniture and fabrics

While you’re testing the paint color in the rooms, make sure you test it against other elements of the room. Furniture, fabrics, flooring, and décor should be held up against it for comparison. You can paint a piece of poster board to hold it up against furniture and flooring if needed.

Keep in mind that colors don’t have to “match”. If you have a gray sofa don’t stress out about trying to find the exact same color in paint. Instead, it’s more important to get complimentary tones. A gray could have blue undertones, brown, green, yellow, or a number of other options.


6. Think about sheen

People focus so much on color that they often overlook other elements of paint. The sheen will really impact how a paint color looks in a room. A higher sheen paint will show more flaws than a lower sheen one. Here are the general guidelines for paint finishes:

Flat (Matte): This has no shine at all. It’s perfect for low traffic rooms such as living rooms, bedrooms, and ceilings.

Flat Enamel: This paint has almost no shine but it’s a little easier to clean than matte paint. It’s great for low traffic areas too but it’s recommended if you have kids or pets.

Eggshell Enamel: This has a bit of shine to it and is good for moderate traffic areas such as living rooms. Scuffs can easily be wiped off with a damp cloth.

Satin Enamel: Satin has a bit more shine to it. It works well in high traffic areas or places with moisture. It’s easy to wipe down which is why it’s perfect for bathrooms and kitchens.

Semi-Gloss Enamel: This paint is shiny, but not glass-like. This is what is recommended for cabinets, trim, or really high moisture areas.

High-Gloss Enamel: If you want shiny then this is for you. This sheen almost looks like glass and is good for high use surfaces such as railings and furniture.


7. Have a color theme

People think that you need to use one paint color in a home to make it feel cohesive. That’s the easiest way to do it, but if you want to use multiple colors just make sure they fit into a theme. This isn’t important for every area of the home, just rooms that run into one another. Bedrooms and bathrooms (except maybe powder rooms) can have their own colors.

The easiest way to have a color theme is to pick one or two accent colors, use neutrals, and then when you find a paint color you like, mix in some darker and lighter shades of it. This will add depth and dimension to your home. It can also help with defining spaces in an open concept home. You just want your home to make sense. Walking from a light beige kitchen to a darker beige dining room makes sense. Walking from a light gray dining room to a dark brown living room does not.


If you have any questions or concerns on picking the right paint color(s) for your home, feel free to contact us!