Thursday, June 25, 2015

10 Tips for Choosing Paint Colors for your Home

It's that time, ladies and gentlemen!  I've finally put away the drywall sanding block, and today my cart at Lowe's looked like this:

Having bit the bullet on the entire downstairs color palette today, I felt inspired to share a few tips today for choosing paint colors.  Let's call it installment one of my promised paint tutorial.

1) Bring lots of paint chips home.  They're free, the lighting at the store is weird, and Pinterest has lots of crafty ideas for the leftover cards.  It's best to have lots of options- and you might be surprised by what you like in your space!  The more light/neutral your color, the more important it is to compare a lot, because...

2) Everything has an undertone.  Take tans for example.  At first glance, they probably look tan, tan, and tan.  But, hold them up together and you'll start to notice that one is a yellow-tan, one is a pink-tan, and one is a green-tan.  The undertones are a lot more apparent when the color covers more than 2 square inches, so pay careful attention.  This is easiest to do if you...

3) Look up and down the swatch.  Looking at the deeper/darker colors towards the bottom of a swatch can help to give you a sense of the undertones.  I'm of the opinion that you should like all of the colors on the card you're using, even if you don't think they'd work for your space (again, because they're really versions of the same one you're picking).  And while you're moving up and down the swatch...

4) Don't be afraid of intense colors.  Don't assume you should use the lightest swatch on every card.  Especially if the space is well-lit and if the ceiling and trim is white, you can go with the bold colors you really like.  Choosing something "moody" (i.e., with some gray or tan undertones, as opposed to a true primary color) can keep it from looking juvenile.  Just make sure you...

5) Coordinate your rooms.  Don't be afraid of the bold colors you like, but DO be afraid of all the random colors you like!  Your rooms are a connected part of a whole, so don't turn them into bright stand alone areas that make the whole house feel like a disjointed kaleidoscope.  You can also try to chose colors that have the same undertones (see above).  One way to keep things synchronized is to...

6) Chose an inspiration piece for your whole house palette.  It can be difficult to chose colors to coordinate if you don't have a starting point.  Chose a piece of fabric, or a pillow, or furniture, or some artwork that you really love (and that isn't monochromatic) and make sure that all of your paint selections match it.  Mine is this blanket.  And in addition to paying attention to that inspiration, also...

7) Pay attention to your house's style.  Not every color or palettes - no matter how much you like them - will be right for every space.  Especially be cautious of using trendy or pure bright colors in an older homes.  And be mindful that you...

8) Don't paint yourself into a decor corner.  Unless you have a budget for all new furnishings, don't paint your rooms in a scheme that won't coordinate with your existing furniture, art, and accessories.  If you are waiting to update your furniture but don't have the budget right now, stick with some neutral colors that work with your existing things and can also work with future purchases.  Either way...

9) Ignore the color names.  It's fun to read all of the color names (and to think that someone's job is to create them!) but when it comes to choosing your paint, they're irrelevant.  Take, for instance, our new carpet.  We selected it at one shop, and discovered that the name was, charmingly "Teacake."  When we compared prices at another location, we found that the company has different names for the same product line when it's sold by different distributors (crazy practice, but let's not go there).  At that shop, our same carpet was called (ick) "Cobweb."  Go with what you like to see - the name isn't going to be printed on the walls but the color sure will!

And above all, remember:

10) Go with your gut feelings on what you like.  You can see all the inspiration pictures (and read all of the *ahem* wisdom about picking colors!) that you like, but ultimately you have to go with what you and your family love, and what makes you happy to live in your space.  Most importantly, don't let analysis paralysis keep you from painting your rooms.  If you've been itching to repaint, you'll like whatever you chose more than you like whatever happens to be there now!  If you've narrowed your selection to just two or three and it feels like you can't possibly chose between them because they're just too similar - just pick one!  If you can't figure out which is better, chances are they're not different enough to make a big difference in how your room looks.  Make a selection and get thee to the paint counter!

Happy painting :)


  1. These are so helpful it (almost) makes me wish I was painting a house! When I read the title, I thought, "There is no way she can come up with 10 things to say about paint samples." But you did and every one was interesting!

  2. These are so helpful it (almost) makes me wish I was painting a house! When I read the title, I thought, "There is no way she can come up with 10 things to say about paint samples." But you did and every one was interesting!

  3. And here I am falling in love with a white called "seed pearl" solely because of the name... These tips are so helpful!

  4. Thanks for your suggestions about how to choose your home paint colors. Paint color can make a big difference to how a room feels. It will also help to reflect your personality and theme of your home. You make a good point about trusting your gut with paint colors. You will see it every day. You should love it.