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Choosing the Right Paint Color for Your Home

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Choosing the right paint color for your home can be downright intimidating.  No one wants to put the time and energy into painting a room only to realize the paint color you choose is completely wrong. That can be truly devastating! Not only is it a huge waste of money and time but also, it leaves you feeling defeated.

So now you ask yourself,

How do I choose paint colors for my house? I need some paint color advice.

Honestly, I believe most people make choosing a paint color much harder than it should be. Picking paint colors should be fun and not at all stressful.

I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in particular popular paint colors we see on Pinterest or in your favorite influencer’s home. I hate to say it but that paint color may look gorgeous in the influencer’s home and not in yours.

Let’s stop feeling overwhelmed with the paint color choice and let’s get excited about it.

Luckily I have 5 essential tips and tricks you can use to find the absolute perfect paint color for your home.

5 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT COLOR.

I wholeheartedly believe that if you take the time to use these tips you will choose the perfect paint color for your home. These are the 5 things I go by when helping clients with choosing paint colors. They work, trust this process!

  1. Tones and Finishes in your home. Both fixed elements and decor pieces.
  2. Natural lighting. How the sun looks in different exposures.
  3. Artificial lighting. How light bulbs are a factor.
  4. Paint Finishes. What they are and how they differ.
  5. Sampling paint colors. How to exactly do it and why it is a crucial step of the process.

Save yourself from wasting money and time by reading along to understand how these 5 tips on how to pick a paint color will help the process.

Don’t forget to pick up these amazing painting tools! They will only make your life easier!

TONES & FINISHES

When choosing a paint color, know the tone.

Lets’ start with a little understanding of what paint color tones are.

Paint colors that are often created by using two or more colors will have a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the color you see first, for example, blue, red, etc. The undertone of the color may not be instantly obvious. This is largely apparent with neutral and white paint colors.

All colors have two tones: cool and warm.

Warm colors typically have tones that are orangeyellow, or red, and they promote a cozy, welcoming space. Whereas, cool colors have tones that are greenblue, or purple and they tend to make your space feel crisp and fresh.

Knowing a paint colors tone can help you tremendously when deciding on a paint color. It helps you narrow down the list of paint colors that will work in the space you are painting. 

Don’t start painting until you have the right tools!

SHOP MUST HAVE PAINTING TOOLS

Look at the finishes in your home.

Look at the fixtures, cabinetry, floors, and trim in the home. All of these items have different tones.

If you want to emphasize a cool tone, for example, a brushed nickel faucet pairs well with a cool-toned gray paint color such as Sherwin Williams Passive. Whereas, a warm red brick fireplace is complemented beautifully by a paint color with a warm tone, an example being Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.

If you are looking more along the lines to balance the warmth or coolness, go with the opposite tone from your fixtures or cabinetry. One example would be choosing a cooler paint color to balance out warm wood trim. 

A good rule of thumb is to choose the tone of your paint color by the mood you are trying to achieve. Either match interior elements to the tone of the paint color or choose the opposite to achieve a sense of balance.

Knowing the tones of the elements in your home will help you in choosing the right paint color for your home.




Shop This Cool Toned Bedroom


warm toned bedroom


Shop This Warm Toned Bedroom

NATURAL LIGHTING

Always be familiar with the natural lighting before choosing a paint color. 

Light plays an important role in the way a paint color looks. It can change the appearance of virtually any color. For this reason, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the lighting situation of the room you are choosing the paint color for.

In terms of natural sunlight, as the day progresses, the lighting intensity changes, creating changes in the appearance of colors. This is very important to remember when you are deciding on a paint color.

At sunrise, the sunlight is warmer because it’s lower to the horizon. As a result, the sun gives off a warm yellowish cast. As the day proceeds to midday and the sun rises, producing more of a bluish, cooler cast. At midday, in direct sunlight, colors will appear to be a bit washed out. Finally, as the day concludes to evening, the warmth is back, but now giving rooms more of a reddish cast.

lighting direction

North-facing rooms – Light in north-facing rooms comes off cooler and somewhat bluish. Lighter colors appear more muted, while bolder colors will show up, or appear better.

South-facing rooms– In South-facing rooms, there tends to be a consistently bright light throughout the day. Warm and cool tones work with south-facing light. This light can also intensify colors.

East-facing rooms– East-facing rooms have the brightest light in the mornings, with a yellow-orange tone.  If an east-facing room will be used mostly in the evenings, going with a warm palette will help balance the lack of natural light. 

West-facing rooms- Early evening is when West-facing rooms have the best light. Warmer tones might seem overwhelming because of the red-orange the light gives off. However, if the main use for the room is in the mornings, the colors won’t appear as intense.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING

Like sunlight, artificial lighting largely affects the appearance of a paint color you choose. Depending on the type of light bulb you choose, the color of your paint will look different.

Some of the different types of light bulbs are:

  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs): LED bulbs can be either cool or warm. They are flexible and work well with any color.
  • Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): CFLs come in a variety of colors. They can off either a warm white, neutral or bluish-white light.
  • Halogens: Halogens produce a white light very comparable to natural sunlight. 
  • Fluorescents: Fluorescents bulbs are used mainly with cool tones. The cool light enhances blue and green colors.
  • Incandescents: Incandescent bulbs give off a warm yellow light. They will enhance warm tones like reds, yellows, and oranges while muting colors such as blues and greens. 

Being familiar with the type of light bulb is one thing, however, you also need to focus (mainly) on the light temperature of the bulb. This is important in regards to how it will make a paint color look.

To sum it up, lights bulbs are measured by the Kelvin Temperature scale. The range is 1000k to 7000K. 1000K being the warmest yellow light and 7000K the coolest blue light.

A light bulb with a temperature of 2500K will cast a very warm yellowish glow. This will 100% affect how your paint color looks. This is why it’s important to know about your light bulbs!

Light fixtures

To piggyback off of light bulbs, the light fixture itself also places a part in how a paint color will look.

Lampshade– A lampshade will affect the strength of the light bulb it holds. Being that most lampshades are solid, the amount of light produced is diminished a bit.

White, off-white, and ivory shades give off the brightest light. While darker shades give off less light and mute the appearance of surrounding colors.

If you have a lampshade in a warmer color, the light will come off in a warmer hue, creating warmth to everything else in the room, including the paint color.

Pendants /Down Pointed Lights– Down-pointed lighting is directed down and illuminates floors. Pendants direct light down making them ideal for workspaces, such as kitchen islands.  As a result, the down-pointing light can usually make ceilings feel darker or unlit. 

READ MORE: HOW TO CHOOSE PENDANT LIGHTING

Sconces / Up Pointed LightsSconces and lights pointing upward, direct light towards the ceiling, which in turn illuminates the ceiling and upper portion of your walls. 

While light fixtures are somewhat of a factor, your main priority is choosing the best light bulb to complement your paint color.

LRV  – Light Reflectance Value

While on the topic of light, I want to quickly mention LRV and why it can be helpful in terms of choosing a paint color.

The LRV ( light reflectance value), is the amount of light a paint color either absorbs or reflects. LRVs range from 0-100, with 100 being pure white and 0 being absolute black.  So the higher on the LRV scale, the more light-reflective the paint color will be. 

LRV is an important factor to consider when you are trying to pick a paint color for your home because it will tell you how much light the paint color will absorb or reflect.

Benjamin Moore Paint Deck Index (1)

For example, let’s take Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams. The LRV is 58, which is almost smack in the middle of the scale. So you can expect this paint color to reflect more light than a color with an LRV of 39 like Dorian Gray by Sherwin Williams.

A mistake that is made with choosing paint colors and LRV is that people tend to think the higher the LRV the brighter the paint color will look in a room. This is not the case. If a room is lacking natural and or artificial light, that paint color with the LRV of 79 might look drab and dull.

Why? Because the paint color doesn’t have any light to reflect. Keep this in mind when you are deciding on a paint color

PAINT FINISH

Why do paint sheens matter when picking a paint color?

Paint sheen plays a role in the way a color looks as well. This is one aspect that is way too often overlooked. 

Typically there are 5 different paint finishes you can choose from. Some brands offer different variations of the sheens however, there are 5 main finishes.

  • FLAT
  • EGGSHELL
  • SATIN
  • SEMI-GLOSS
  • HIGH GLOSS

The higher the gloss level of a paint color, the more light it will reflect and the brighter the color will appear. While a paint color with less of a sheen, such as a matte finish, will not be reflective also giving the paint color a truer appearance.  

5. SAMPLE THE PAINT COLORS

This tip is more of a non-negotiable rather than a tip. You MUST MUST MUST sample the paint color in your home. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I will say this until I’m blue in the face. You will never know what the best paint color for your home is unless you test that paint color in your home.

I’m not being dramatic, but this is a crucial part of the process.

It’s one thing to get your samples but the real crucial step here is to use them the right way.

The lighting in a room will change throughout the day. And remember that lighting is a big factor in how a paint color looks. So this means once your paint swatch is up on the wall, you should monitor it throughout the day to see how the paint color looks in the different lighting.

You also want to move the paint swatch around the room (this is why I love Samplize). You have to move it to see how the paint color will look in the dark corner or how it will look next to your flooring. Again you have to monitor it through the day to see how the light changes it.

I know this sounds exhausting and over the top. But I promise you it is key to choosing the right paint color.

I like to use Sampilize Peel and Stick Paint samples and here’s why.

Quickly, let’s talk about testing paint colors.

Instead of physically going to your nearest paint store to grab your samples, you need to try  Samplize Peel & Stick paint samples.

Why should you try Samplize?

  • Super affordable
  • Mess-free
  • Non-damaging
  • Made with real manufacturer paint
  • Displays color just like a wall
  • Environmental friendly
  • Reusable
Samplize Swatch

These peel & stick paint samples are super affordable and allow you to test a paint color in all different areas of a room without the mess of a traditional paint sample! 

 You know how I feel about testing paint colors, it’s a must! 

Don’t create more work for yourself. Order Samplize now and have them shipped directly to you.  No-fuss, no mess! Check them out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

If you decide to make your own swatches I recommend using this foam board and getting yourself a bunch of swatch brushes to keep on hand.


PAINT COLOR ADVICE

Before I wrap up, I think the best paint color advice I can give you is to don’t get overwhelmed, Picking a paint color is a process, don’t rush it.

Definitely do not get wrapped up in what undertones a paint color has. You may question yourself after reading about the gray paint color you like having a purple undertone. Although you aren’t seeing the purple undertone after sampling it. Don’t back away from the color you like because of what you read. If you, with your own eyes, like how it looks in your home then that’s the right paint color for you.

The paint color needs to be visually appealing to you in your home. Because at the end of the day you will be living with it.

If you follow the tips, sample the paint color and trust your eye, then you won’t question how to choose paint colors for your home interior.

MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN CHOOSING A PAINT COLOR

You get the 5 tips for choosing the right paint color but I think that I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t share the mistake sto avoid.

RECAP- 5 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT COLOR

The 5 Key elements you should keep in mind when choosing a paint color for your interior are:

  1. Tones and Finishes in your home. Both fixed elements and decor pieces.
  2. Natural lighting. How the sun looks in different exposures.
  3. Artificial lighting. How light bulbs are a factor.
  4. Paint Finishes. What they are and how they differ.
  5. Sampling paint colors. How to exactly do it and why it is a crucial step of the process.

FINAL THOUGHTS- CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT COLORS

These tips will help you choose a paint color for:

  • bedrooms
  • bathrooms
  • kitchens
  • living rooms
  • basically, everywhere

My paint color advice? Focus on the 5 essential tips. Don’t get so wrapped up in everything you read about paint colors. Yes, it is definitely helpful but you need to see color for yourself.

You want to make sure you are covering all bases before choosing the right paint color for your home.

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painting checklist

You Might Also Be Interested in:

D

Friday 11th of December 2020

I have two west facing bedrooms and looking for paint colors, mostly neutral or gray/beige wall paint colors. One of them I have selected Balboa Mist, looking for the second bedroom with two windows and bedroom is about 12x14, white/off-white furniture. Any Benjamin Moore color suggestions? thanks!

Darlene

Saturday 26th of September 2020

We are in the midst of choosing paint colors for our home. I love the bedroom blue gray by Sherwin Williams on your blue gray page. Would you please tell me the name of the Sherwin Williams paint ?

What blue would you recommend to complement agreeable gray for a split wall with agreeable gray on top? Thinking I might go with a darker gray on top to make the white woodwork pop in our basement? Thinking of going with a blue gray on the bottom. What would you recommend?

Susie

Sunday 16th of August 2020

I would like to paint my house a lighter grey( but not silver) with dark grey trim. I have navy shutters. I was thinking of using Sherwin Williams Aviatrax as the base and Carbonized as the trim and garage doors. I want something that will not be too light and fade in a few years. I was going to use Alabaster White as trim around the windows. I have a large house with stone and stucco ( that is now tan). I cannot make a mistake. What do you think?

Jean K Collett

Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

Very helpful information. We are painting the outside of our Colonial with a southern exposure and red brick on part of the lower level. I tried a sample of Thunder, AF-685 and it looks nice but I am seeing more some purple in the sunlight. The new roof is Weathered Wood, a soft mix of browns and gray and I thought a house color that is more of a greige would work. Can you recommend some colors?

Jackie

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

What is functional gray do for a wall I am trying to get a dark wall and I used requisite gray for light wall but I think my functional could had been a little darker help please only two windows in this master bedroom did my bathroom with theses colors they did awesome but I had to kilZ the wall in my master bed rn my requisite gray look like a brown undertone Help please

Cate Griffing

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Hi Jackie, Are you saying Functional Gray isn't dark enough and Requisite Gray looks too brown?

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