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Choosing the best paint colors for your room?

Updated on February 24, 2014

How to choose paint colors you'll love living with!

Choosing paint colors for your personal living space is intimidating. It's hard to know what a whole room will look like from a little chip of sample color. And the knowledge that you will be cohabitating with this color for awhile- can encourage people to err on the side of being too careful, simply because they don't know the tricks for choosing colors they would be happiest with. Lots of people end up with neutrals, not because they like living with less color necessarily, but because they are too afraid to put a color they really love on the wall.

So here are some ways to break down the job of choosing a particular wall color into a step by step process that doesn't require as much guesswork:

1- Buy 3 large pieces of poster-board when you are at the paint store, get your paint sample, and paint each one entirely with the color you've chosen.

Now place the posterboards in different parts of the room and watch it during the day in the changing light . Morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, evening. Put one in a corner that is doesn't get as much light, one by a window or area flooded with light, and one in an area you look at when you sit down in your room. This way you will get a real sense of what the color does with light, shadow, cool and warm light. If you still like the color at the end of this experiment, you are definitely on the right track!

2- Choose colors like you choose your clothes.

Look at your closet and identify colors that you see again and again. Do you go for classics, like navy and red? Neutrals and natural tones like khaki, cotton and linen? Or are you more adventurous in your colors, picking deep jewel tones or punches of brights like oranges, yellows, limes? Whether you use these colors as accents to your main color or as your main color, you will live more harmoniously with hues you are likely to wear in an item of clothing you love.

3- What color looks good on your skin?

Usually, if you do the above, you will have this covered, but think about colors that look good with your skin tone, your eyes, your hair. That shirt color people always comment about "being your color." You are going to be in the room more than anyone. You want to look good in it!

4- Pick an item you love-

An embroidered pillow, a patterned chair, a color from a throw or rug , when you find a piece that you are absolutely in love with, it gives you insight to what you would be happiest living with . When you have an emotional connection to a color, you won't be dissatisfied living with it. This is many times the way interior designers go about choosing a color swatch board for their designs. Finding something you love is the best springboard for all of the colors in a room.

5- Have confidence in what you like.

A few weeks/months before you paint, pick out pictures that catch your attention in magazines of colors that you love. Even keeping a running notebook of ideas with rooms, colors, and patterns from magazines can help you to focus in on the way you want your home to "feel". Do you always pick warm, cozy rooms? Do you prefer clean lines and minimal color? Or do you go for beachside cottage pictures? Collect inspirational photos for a couple of months and you'll see a pattern play out. Pay attention to your surroundings and what you like and/or don't like. Think about how you feel in your friend's kitchen, your dentist's office, your yoga class, and what part the color plays in those feelings.

6- Remember, colors have power.

Red is passionate and romantic, it also tends to make food look good. Green is lively and brings the outside in. Blue is a calming, soothing color, bringing to mind sea and surf. Yellow can be happy, but can also induce stress. Babies cry more in yellow rooms than any other color. Think about colors and their natural environment. Usually blue is associated with mold and mildew, so it may not be the best color for the kitchen, and a deep brown for the bathroom might be okay, but then again..

7- Colors also have warmth or coolness to them.

Exclusive of the color. So even though yellow is a warm color, the range of yellows from a greeny, pale cool yellow tone to a warm, rich buttery yellow is night and day. Same with whites. Reds can have either a blue(cool) or orange(warm) undertone to them. Blues can lean more toward one or the other, more violet undertones make blues warmer. Greys, taupes and beiges are notorious tricksters- pay attention and paint those poster boards. Once I bought a taupe that looked a beautiful cool grey at the store and when I painted my room it was actually sort of a violet- not what I was looking for.


The most important part of the process in choosing a wall color is to have confidence in what you like.Then knowing how that particular color plays out in your living space and light. It's also important that you pay attention to what you truly like and not just what the fads are. Deep brown and light blue or orange might be all the rage, but if you aren't thrilled with that combination day and night, you will not enjoy living with it!! Have fun with the process of uncovering colors that you love. You might play with some small pieces first, like a throw pillow, to see if you like living with a color. Finally, after you've done your research, just do it! There is nothing that livens up and beautifies a home more than a new paint color. Have fun and enjoy your new room.


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      You have some very good tips here. Thanks for sharing.