How to Choose Paint Colors

The Woodlands, Paint colors, finish, choosing, real estate, buy, sell, buying, selling, homes, house, decor, decoratingRepainting your home is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to refresh and revitalize your decor. One weekend and a few cans of paint can totally change the feel of your space, giving your home a makeover without any bank-breaking furniture upgrades or other expensive and stressful design commitments.

But when faced with the basically infinite options of color choices, repainting can feel a little daunting. It’s very easy to get stuck in an eggshell rut, afraid of those deceiving colors that look so great in a small square but somehow just never feel right on the wall.

I firmly believe one should never be afraid to try something new in their home. And with paint, the commitment is minimal (if you hate it, paint over it!). And there’s plenty of help out there waiting to lead you to the perfect color choices. I’ve scoured the internet for the best tips out there on choosing color, and found some pretty inspiring things. I’ve compiled these tips and added in my own painting experience both readying homes for sale and as a homeowner myself to create a brief guide on choosing colors. There are many articles that will try to tell you what is “trendy” in color and advise you on what specific colors to choose where. But ultimately, you know your own taste and your own home, and the key is choosing not the most trendy color, but the one that makes you the happiest.

One of the most intimidating parts of choosing paint colors is starting with a totally blank canvas. With infinite color options come infinite possibilities for the entire decor in a room, so I find it’s best to start with the other elements that are less flexible. If you are choosing fabric for furniture, curtains, accent pillows, etc., start there to find color inspiration. You can develop a nicely cohesive color scheme by using an object you love and designing around it. And you don’t have to match colors identically — find colors in the same family and experiment with different shades until you find the right balance. Once you know what other colors will be in the room, choosing the paint color will be much simpler.

Designers use many tricks when developing a color scheme. A simple go-to rule is to remember 60-30-10: the room will have three foundation colors, 60% main color, 30% secondary color, and 10% accent color. Often, furniture falls into the secondary color, accessories make for accent color, and the main source of color in the room is paint. So if you know what three colors you want to build around, deciding which one goes on the wall is as simple as arithmetic.

An essential tool for developing a color scheme is a color wheel. This round rainbow shows you what colors complement each other (ones that are opposite on the wheel) and how colors are related. Studying up on your color wheel before you start can give you a lot of confidence in making choices about color. I found a great how-to on using a color wheel from This Old House with some great visual examples.

Also, when starting to pick out new colors for a room, think about what purpose that room has and the mood you would like to get from it. A bedroom may need more relaxing, soothing colors whereas a kitchen may feel more energized and bold. Look at as many examples as you can find, and start collecting the colors that affect you the most. The looks you are drawn to most often may give you great clues on what you want for your own home.

And don’t be afraid to mix things up. Just because you have a 60-30-10 foundation doesn’t mean you can only use 3 colors. Using various shades on different walls can add depth and fluidity to a room, accent interesting architecture, and create more visual texture. Be sure to think, too, about the various perspectives through which you see into a room. Fluidity not only applies to walls within the room, but also to the walls in other adjacent portions of your home. There are many software programs available online through paint retailers that let you experiment with colors from different perspectives virtually. Here‘s a great video tutorial on the prep steps in color-decision-making, including how to use those programs.

Once you get to the step that takes you to the store to gawk at the endless paint squares, make sure you leave time to really live with your options. Many paint stores have useful ways of viewing swatches under different lighting conditions, but you’ll never know just how it will look until it’s in your home. Most places will sell you small samples of paint so that you can try them out on your walls side-by-side. Remember: natural daylight shows the truest color, incandescent light brings out warm tones, and fluorescent light casts a very slight blue tint. Think about the way your room is typically lit when considering how bold or saturated you want to go with your color.

Armed with your color wheel and paint swatches, you should feel much more prepared walking into the store with all of your ideas. Also, make sure to use the resources they offer; typically employees can offer important wisdom on finish, brand, and quantity that you’ll need.


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