We all want that perfect paint color. You know, the one that makes your home look like it should be featured in your favorite magazine. But while there are always several good paint color choices for your space, there is not one perfect color. I'm sharing some of my best insider tips with you today on how not to choose a paint color as well as the best ways to make a good choice.
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How not to choose a paint color:
1. From a picture in a magazine
Although it's a great place to start, 9 times out of 10 when I show someone the actual paint swatch of a color they've seen in a magazine they think it's the wrong swatch. "It doesn't look like that in the photo!" Unfortunately, it usually doesn't. Between the lighting and shadows, the photo editing, and the printing process, it won't look the same in reality. Most of the time it's close (except the top left photo above), but not exact.
Best way - always look at the actual paint swatch of any color you're considering.
2. From a paint swatch at the store
Also, the lighting in most paint stores is flourescent and in most homes it's incandescent, which casts a different hue on everything. Lighting makes a huge difference in how a paint color appears so it will look different in the store than it does in your home.
Best way - look at one color at a time in the space that is going to be painted. Snip the colors off of the strip if necessary.
3. Outside in the sunlight
Colors look washed out in the sunlight. One that looks perfect outside might be too dark in your interior space. Here's an example of how different colors look in the sun.
The areas in direct sunlight look lighter than the shaded areas. Also, it's always a good idea to see how the color looks at night, on a cloudy day, and on a sunny day. It will look different in every situation and you want to be sure it's not too light or too dark.
Here's an illustration of how much of an impact lighting and adjacent colors have on paint colors:
- A - On a Navajo White wall in a west facing room on an overcast day, no lights turned on.
- B - On Navajo White in the same west facing room, same exact spot as A,on a sunny day, no lights turned on.
- C - On Navajo White in the same west facing room as A & B, same exact spot, with the overhead incandescent light turned on .
- D - On a White Dove wall on a sunny afternoon in an east facing room, no lights turned on.
Crazy, isn't it? Now you can see how adjacent colors and different lighting conditions affect colors.
Best way - look at the color in the space it's going to be in at several different times during the day.
4. Painting a swatch in the middle of the wall
But why? Colors are affected by what surrounds them (see above illustration), and if you paint a swatch of one color in the middle of a wall that's another color, you're not getting an accurate representation of how it will truly look on all four walls. I'm not recommending that you paint the entire room. Just not a swatch in the middle of the wall.
Here's a good example of how to paint a sample on your wall - next to the trim, and a large enough area that you can really tell how it's going to look.
Best way - test the color on a sample board (like the one with Revere Pewter above) and move it around the room, placing it next to the trim, furniture, flooring, etc. and try to look at it while you block out the existing color from your view. The current color won't be there once you paint the space anyway, so don't let it distract you now.
You can also paint an area on the wall, but be sure that it's next to your trim/woodwork, and paint as large of an area as possible.
5. Testing multiple colors at once on the same wall
Looking at multiple colors at once can be misleading, similar to looking at all the colors on a color strip from the paint store.
Best way - Look at one color at a time, and eliminate the ones you don't like until you have it narrowed down to one or two. Then it's time to get a tester sample and paint it on a board or a large section of the wall.
So as a review here are the BEST WAYS to choose your paint color:
- Look at the actual paint swatch, not a magazine (or online) photo of it
- See how the color looks in the space that's going to be painted
- Look at the paint color during different times of the day
- Paint some of the color on a board or next to a door or window
- Only view one color at a time
I hope this has been helpful to you in narrowing down your color choices. I'm working on putting together favorite color combinations and whole house palettes and I'll be sharing them here soon so be sure to subscribe to updates so you don't miss any of them.
Got a great tip for choosing a paint color? I'd love to hear about your experiences!
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