Don’t want your paint color choices to suck once you get them on the walls? Here’s the how to choose paint colors so you love the results every time. Plus, the ONE thing to NEVER do when choosing paint colors.
It can seem like a huge task to choose a paint color for your home. I often say, “it’s just paint.” But I feel your pain when you’ve done all the work, spent hours rolling that paint onto the wall, only to step back hate it. So, how do you choose paint colors so that you know you’re going to love the results? By learning one common mistake everyone makes and by understanding a wee bit about paint.
Let’s Start with What NOT to Do!
There’s a familiar story I hear all the time. Someone goes to the paint store/hardware store wanting to buy paint for a weekend DIY room makeover they plan to start the next day. They have a general idea of what color they want (blue, green, red, yellow), but they’re not exactly sure of the paint color. So, in they march to the paint department to look at paint chips. After some hemming and hawing at all the options, they choose a color they love and get a gallon or two mixed. They’re so excited to get that paint up on the walls.
Oh, the but.
But when they get home and start painting, the paint doesn’t quite look like it did at the store. Something is very off.
There’s a reason for that…they broke the one rule you really NEED to follow 100% of the time when choosing paint colors.
Do you want to know my number one rule for choosing paint colors that ROCK every single time? For real just one rule that I follow alllllll the time.
First, I have to say I don’t actually have very many rules for decorating at all. I think there are very few that must be followed. The rest can usually be bent or broken altogether. Rebellious much? But if everyone would just follow this one rule for choosing paint colors it would prevent 100% of bad paint choices. Okay, I don’t know the actual percentage. But every time I see someone doing this at the paint or hardware store, I feel like I may just lose my mind. Because I know it’s totally going to suck. So here it is…here is the one thing I forbid you to do in all your decorating forevermore….
Do NOT choose paint colors at the store!
For the love of Pete, just don’t do it!
Paint is made up of different colors. Remember our lesson on color theory? If not click/tap here to take a quick refresher. The only simple colors are full-on primary colors – red, blue and yellow.
When you or I pick a paint color at the store, it’s usually under yellow fluorescent lighting, right? Well, that florescent lighting changes the way all paint colors look to our eyes and how we see the undertones.
It simply will not look the same at home. EVER!
So, just how do you pick paint colors the right way?
Understanding Paint Swatches
Those lovely long paint swatches you get at the hardware store are super handy for choosing paint colors. But only if you understand them!
Choosing Coordinating Colors
Paint swatches generally have 3 or more colors all in a row. Each swatch is grouped according to color temperature.
So, on one swatch you will have several shades of a color that is either warm or cool. One swatch will NEVER have both warm and cool colors on it.
The more muted the color on the swatch, the more grey has been added. If you stay with the same saturation level and color temperature, you can easily coordinate colors in your space.
For example, using the swatches below, you could choose a couple of colors from one swatch for a nice, soothing monochromatic look.
Or you could choose, say the third color down on two different swatches. Doing that, you’d be keeping with the same saturation level, which would provide a lovely coordinating color scheme.
To choose whites, stay in the same color temperature zone.
A white near cool colors on a swatch compliment cool colors, while a white near warm colors on a swatch compliment warm colors.
Keep cool with cool and warm with warm.
The Right Way to Pick Paint Colors
1. Bring paint swatches home with you. Tape the swatches to the wall.
2. Or buy a sample pot and try a few shades on the wall in the room you want to paint.
3. Then place some of the accents (flooring if it’s not yet laid, furniture, pillows, etc.) in the room.
4. Now look at the paint in different lighting at different times of day. Choose what looks best in the space with the accents and actual lighting.
It becomes much easier to choose well, when you see the paint in it’s true surroundings!