Paint Color Advice: How to choose a paint color.

Do you need to paint a room and don't know where to start? Don't panic. It's easier than you might think. There are some simple ways to get started and narrow down your color choices and today I'm sharing a few tips I've learned over the past 25 years of helping clients choose paint colors.

I'll start out with the basics and cover some more in-depth topics in future posts.  Please follow my blog to learn more from my upcoming posts.

Getting started

What's your inspiration? Before you even begin looking for a color, decide what it is that inspires you or what you need to match. 

  • Is there a sofa or some artwork that will be in the room?  
  • Do you have new bedding or curtains or an area rug that you need to consider?  
  • Are there existing tiles, cabinets, or counters that will be in this room?  

All of these things help determine what your color should be.
Or is it a room that you're starting from scratch with?  You have to start somewhere, so look in current magazines or decorating books for inspiration.  Maybe you've seen a picture online that you like the look of.  Find it and print it or save it in a file.

If you know that you'll be changing your fabrics, flooring, counter tops, etc., you'll want to have an idea of what you're going to use before choosing your paint color.  There are a gazillion paint colors to choose from, but you don't usually have as many choices for other design elements. You should first decide on the things that won't be changed for a long time and then choose your paint color last.

Now that you have something specific that you need to match or coordinate with, then you're ready to start the process of choosing a color.  Don't cringe.  It's not that bad!

Tip #1:

This is important.  Go to a paint store.  A real paint store, not an aisle in a jumbo sized warehouse or discount store.  If you go to a locally owned store, you will get expert advice, quality products, and local people who are glad to have your business.  You might even get helped by the owner of the business! How often does that happen these days?

As far as brands go, I have always sold and worked with Benjamin Moore colors and highly recommend their colors and products.  (They don't pay me to say this). They have "premium" paints as well as more economically priced paints that are still as good or better than anything you will find elsewhere.  Do it.  You will thank me.  And so will your wallet when you actually save money because you don't have to buy as much paint as you would if you bought "cheaper" paint.  You get what you pay for.

Tip #2: 

Bring your fabric samples, tiles, counter samples, pictures, etc. with you when you go.  We can be much more helpful when we know which shade of tan carpet you have in your bedroom, or which speck of color you want to match from your counter top.  I've had people show up with rugs, large framed artwork, cabinet doors, sofa cushions, bricks, shingles, and much, much more.  We welcome all of those things with a smile, as it makes our job easier.  

I find that it's easy to keep my existing fabrics and paint colors and other things in a ziplock bag. I can just grab it and go when I'm shopping.

Tip #3:

Don't expect to pick out your color on the first trip.  Take home several swatches that are good choices.  When you've narrowed it down to one or two colors, buy a sample of the paint color(s) and try it on your wall in your home.  Why?  Because most stores have fluorescent lights.  Most homes don't.  Lighting plays a HUGE part in how a color looks on the wall.

If nothing else, take home the paint strips and cut off all the colors except the one you are considering.  Look at the color at night, during the day, and in several places in the room.  It will look different.  If it's not the right one, there are LOTS of other choices.

Tip #4:

It's only paint.  I don't want to trivialize the whole process, but what's the worst that could happen?  You choose the wrong color.  You have to repaint, or live with a color that's not "perfect".  Don't stress out over it.

Since the introduction of HGTV and more recently home blogs and websites, it seems like everyone wants the "perfect" color.   Most likely there is not just one perfect color that will work for your project, but instead several that would look really great.  If you end up hating the color, it's usually the least expensive and easiest part of the project to change.  Unlike cabinets, flooring, curtains, etc, it's an easy fix if you don't like it.

If you feel intimidated by the whole paint color choice process, I am available for hire. I can help you with one room, a whole house, exteriors, or even just an accent wall.  I'm flexible like that.  Go here to learn more about it.

Thanks for dropping by today!



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  1. Thank you! Thank you!!!!

    1. You're welcome! I hope you found some of the information helpful. Thanks so much for visiting!

  2. Great advice! I agree with your #4 so much, and that's what I have to tell my husband all the time - it's only paint! I have this linked to my paint colours post too today!

    1. You're right! It's pretty easy to change if you don't like it. Thanks for the mention! I enjoy your blog and all the great ideas you share. ~ Angie


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