Tips on choosing the right paint color


When it comes to decorating, choosing paint color can really be a challenge. Here are some tips that may help you choose the right color; after all, the paint color is most important because it will set the tone for the room.  


Coordinate Fabrics and Colors: If you already have a piece of furniture or a fabric in your room that you love and plan to keep use that as your starting point.  For example, when decorating a bedroom I suggest you start with the bedding.  Choose or use a bedspread/comforter/duvet that you love first.  Then select a paint color based on the fabric.  The other way around is much harder because there are hundreds of paint colors, and much less of a selection of ready made bedding. When you go shopping, take a swatch of your fabric, paint, flooring… with you.  It’s really easy to go to a paint store and pick up a sample of the color you selected and just carry it in your purse/wallet at all times.  That way, if you come across something you like, you can check the color right then and be sure it will match. 


Paint Color Selection: Believe it or not I have over 100 shades of white.  So be patient when selecting colors.  If you look closely and compare colors you’ll find underlying tones of color within each color.  For example:  in these 100 shades of white, some have a pink tone, grey tone, yellow tone, blue tone … so be patient and be sure you’re selecting the right color for you.  This idea works with all colors.  If you’re starting from scratch, try looking at a color wheel  to find basic color schemes you like.


Molding:  Most of the time people select a shade of white for the base boards, crown molding, doors, etc. If you want your moldings to really stand out select an opposite color for the molding.  For example:  if your walls are dark, paint the molding white, but if your walls are light, paint your moldings dark.

Paint Finish: In addition to selecting the paint color, you also need to select the paint finish. Flat finishes hide imperfections in the wall.  The glossier the finish the more washable the wall becomes and the more the finish will reflect light. Today, the most popular finish is “Eggshell”.  It’s just one step above “flat”, so it adds some washablity and a little glimmer to the room.  Choosing a finish that is washable is great for families with children or pets. More details on paint finishes.

Do you prefer warm or cool colors? We tend to put colors into two basic categories “warm” and “cool.”  Red, orange and and pink are considered “warm” colors.  Blue, green and purple are considered “cool” colors.  Although … remember how I wrote about under tones.  How a white (for example) can have a pink, grey or yellow under tone.  The same is true for all colors, so it is possible to have a cool red.  Red is still a warm color, but it can have a blue undertone making it a cool warm color.  Like a cranberry or a magenta.  They are warm colors, but the blue undertone cools them down. Especially when you compare a cranberry to a fire engine red.

Lighting is key: The best way to get a true view of a paint color is to look at it in the room where you are going to paint. Look at in the daytime and at night.  Lighting is key.  One color may look different from house to house or even room to room.  You may go to a friends house and see a color that you love.  Ask for the brand/name of the color, go buy it and paint it on your walls only to find it just doesn’t look right … and you wonder why.  It’s the lighting!!!   

Your Ceiling is just another wall: White is typical and it looks good in a lot of rooms.  However, ceilings painted a color is all the rage!  If you’re a little hesitant to the idea, try painting the ceiling a couple shades lighter than the wall color. Sometimes people just add more white to their wall paint, usually 25-75% more white.  This is still on the safe side.  I LOVE to see color on the ceiling!  One GREAT tip if you have low ceilings is to paint your ceiling a pale blue.  Blue recedes and will make your ceiling appear higher.  If your ceilings are too tall, try painting them a darker color than the walls to visually bring it down a little.  A pale yellow on the ceiling brightens a room with the feeling of sunshine.  If you’re a little frightened, try painting a ceiling in a small bathroom.  Pick a great color for the walls and wrap the same color onto the ceiling.  This works great in kitchens too, especially since most kitchens have very little wall space and when you paint the ceiling you add color to the kitchen.

Source : House Paint Colors.

When all else fails or if you just don’t want to select paint colors on you own, hire a professional (LIKE ME) to come into your home for a color consultation.

Jill Denton ~ Changing Spaces


6 responses to “Tips on choosing the right paint color

  1. You basically covered all the ins and outs of color selection. Most people miss how lighting affects paint color. I totally agree that ceilings need love too! We wrote a blog on that recently at Please check it out.
    Thanks for the great information. I love your blog.

  2. I have a 200sq ft family room. I currently have an olive sofa with a chase, I have a muted red and tan pillows with similar color for window treatments (curtains) I am wondering for color on the walls if a shade of yellow, not lemon yellow – leaning toward the calm not quite tan color I have a neutral carpet. I love color and have color through out the house kitchen is next to family area and is a orange-red color would like family room and hall walls to match – not very good lighting in the hall or family area would like color to help lighten the two areas. Still working on accent colors for kitchen.

  3. It’s so hard to say without seeing your family room in person. It sounds like you are drawn to the warm colors, so in theory, I think you’re heading in a good direction. Maybe a yellow that is muted (has some black in it) more Dijon like. But remember, lighting is KEY! So, I’d recommend a professional color consultation, or just start bringing home swatches until you find the right shade for your family room. Best of luck!

  4. i have a navy suite in my living room but dont know what colours to use please help

  5. I have a navy and white duvet cover in my bedroom and I am having a hard time picking a color to paint the walls. I picked out a Pottery Barn color called “Buxton Blue” and don’t think it goes well with the white and navy in my duvet.
    Should I stick to a white color?

    • Hi Amy, All I can say is “Just say NO to white walls”! Just because your duvet is blue and white doesn’t mean your walls have to be blue or white. Bring in a third color and really bring your room to life! Pick another basic color that you like (green, yellow, red, etc). Then start looking a different shades of that color. Red is the hardest, because, either it’s red or it’s pink. You could even start with some throw pillows, see which ones you like the best and match the paint color to the pillows. If the pillow are really bright and you don’t want that much color, still find the matching color and just use a lighter shade on the color swatch.
      Best of luck,

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