How to Select the Perfect Paint Color

When I looked online recently for current ideas about paint colors, I discovered why people feel so anxious about selecting paint for their home. There are so many twists on the do’s and don’ts of paint selection that it becomes very overwhelming very fast.

My approach is based on this belief: Paint color is a subjective thing. There is no right or wrong, but if you don’t select carefully, you might end up with something you regret. Here are six steps to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  1. Decide how you want to feel. Before stepping into a paint store, think about how you want your room to feel. Cozy? Warm? Serene? Happy? Energetic? Bright? Airy? See my article on why understanding how color can affect your emotions helps you avoid color choices you may regret.
  2. Select colors that make you feel that way. From a color palette, select three to four colors that express the feelings you’re trying to achieve. For example, you want your family room to feel calm, serene and peaceful, so you select green. Select a range of different greens, from lighter to darker.
  3. Be BRAVE. People tend to select colors that are very safe. And that’s boring! I tell my clients if you aren’t a little afraid of the color, you’re playing it too safe.

    Try this: Find photos of rooms you like and take a good look at the paint colors. In many cases, the paint is not a safe white or the lightest color on the paint strip. When you find a color you like, challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone. Choose the third or fourth color on the paint strip. If that’s just too bold for you, select the second or third color for three walls and the fourth color for the last wall. Not convinced? When I select paint for my clients, 90% of the time they feel certain it’s the wrong color! But after we install the area rug, furniture, decor items, and artwork, they fall in love with it.
  4. Don’t rely on the teeny-tiny paint strip. Purchase a pint of each color you’re considering and paint a sample of it on foam core or white cardboard that’s at least 8″x11″. Live with them for a few days.
  5. Test a big sample. Select the color(s) you like and paint a large sample on the wall of the room you’ll be painting. The sample should be at least 24″x36″.
  6. Look at it in a different light. Don’t decide on the final paint color for a few days. Look at the color in all types of lighting throughout the day and night. Look at the color in natural light and in artificial light.
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That’s it! Select your colors based on how they make you feel. Be brave and step out of your comfort zone, and don’t rush testing your options!

I am a San Francisco interior designer, professional organizer, and move management specialist rolled into one. Learn more about how I can help you by looking over my services or reading a story or two about how I’ve helped people just like you.

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