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  • Writer's pictureDevon Kmet

How to choose the right interior paint color for your home

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Have you ever picked out a paint color at the store, painted an entire room, and realized you hate the color? This happens more often than not. When there are over 2,000 paint colors to choose from, sometimes it can pay to get advice from the pros. We put together our best tips on how to choose the right interior paint color and how to avoid paint color mistakes!

Things to consider before painting

From picking the right sheen to the right color palette, painting can be a big task. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you choose the right paint color every time.

  • Although there are thousands of colors to choose from, there are only 7 real colors on the color wheel (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) Before you begin looking at paint colors at your local hardware store, I recommend knowing what main color you would like to use. This way you can eliminate a few colors before you even begin looking.

  • Before you pick out a color, think of what colors inspire you. Look at accent pillows, a comforter, an art piece, magazines or google images. Looking at what colors inspire you will help you choose what base color to go with, and you might get new inspiration from what you find.

  • Understand undertones. Every color has either a warm or cool undertone. Warm undertones generally have a base color of red, yellow or orange. Cool undertones will be blue, green and gray. Undertones also help with how the room you are painting in will feel. Warm colors are more inviting and would be best in social spaces such as the living room, family room or dining room. Whereas, cooler colors can be more calming so you may use those to be in your bathroom and bedrooms.

  • Knowing the different types of paint sheens is a crucial step in the painting process.

  • Gloss/high gloss - Easiest to clean, very shiny finish, usually used on baseboards, trim and some cabinetry.

  • Semi-gloss - Easy to spot clean, less of a shine than high gloss, is usually used on trim, cabinets and bathrooms.

  • Satin finish - This is wipeable but not as easy to clean as the gloss, it will not have a shine, this is what is recommended for high traffic areas such as hallways, bedrooms and play areas.

  • Eggshell - This will require a bit of elbow grease to get clean but is the most durable of all the finishes, no shine, flat sheen, this is used for areas that may get scratched or roughed up a bit so use it in areas such as living rooms or dining rooms.

  • Flat or matte - This is not easy to clean, will have no shine, and is meant for areas that won’t be used as much such as master bedrooms.

  • Use the right paint for the job. Most paints come in different options such as paint plus primer, paint that has stain resistance in it, paint that has no odor. Depending on your situation, you may need one of these options. If you are painting over a dark color for example, you will want a paint plus primer to avoid having to do more than 2 coats. If you have children in the house or a sensitive nose you will want no odor paint. If you are painting the playroom you will want the stain/scratch resistant paint. Take a moment to look at the options and what each one means before picking your color.

  • ALWAYS GET A SAMPLE! I cannot stress this enough. Once you have decided on a color, w sheen and what option you need, you will need a sample to try out. Samples are small and inexpensive and can save you money and regret. Take the sample home and put a large swatch on the wall where you are painting. Look at it at different times during the day. Put art, furniture and baseboards up against the color. You may find that the color you chose is too dark, too light, or does not match anything in the room. The good news is, you may not have to start over just get a hue darker or lighter and try again.

Bold ways to use paint colors

There are several ways you can be bold using paint colors. We found what is trending and how to transform any room.

  • Use the architecture. Paint the moldings, archways, door trim, windows and even bookcases. For moldings and doorways try going one hue lighter or darker than the primary color of the wall. Layer metallic paint over the color you choose for a pop of glitter or sheen.

  • Use two different colors in the same room, just make sure they both have the same undertone. Paint the walls blue and all the accent pieces such as the bookcase or mantel in an opposing color of the same undertone such as green. This will give a layer of depth in the room.

  • Wainscotting has made a huge comeback recently. Wainscoting is a decorative wood panel that is placed on the lower half of a wall, usually used in dining rooms or bathrooms. Wainscotting provides a great opportunity to use contrasting colors. For example, you can paint the wall a deep shade of red or brown and the wainscotting a pure white to draw focus. You can also reverse that and use a light color on the wall and a dark contrast color on the lower portion.

  • Using an accent wall is an effective way to add a punch of color to a room. Use a light shade on the walls such as beige, gray or light green. The accent wall should be 3-4 shades darker or brighter than the walls surrounding it to allow for that color to pop.

  • Use designs or patterns on the walls with multiple colors. Use painters tape to create a design such as a zig zag or a vertical line. Paint one part of the wall one color and the second part of the wall the contrasting color. Greens work well with blues, gray and purple are great matches, red and yellow or orange work well together as well. Try to stay in the same undertones to avoid clashing.

  • Don’t forget the ceiling. Use the ceiling as another wall. Add crown molding for height and depth. Add wooden features to create a tray ceiling. Paint the ceiling using a shade that is 2-3x lighter than what you painted the room, this will give it an airy feeling. Ceilings don’t have to just be white anymore!

Paint color mistakes to avoid

While there are plenty of tips we can give on how to choose the best paint color, there are also tips on what not to do when choosing a paint color!

  • Never choose a paint color at the store. The lights in a large store will always have a cool hue to them and change the paint color you are looking at or even make it appear much lighter than it is. Always get a sample first to see how it looks in your home and not at the store.

  • Don’t rush the process. Do your homework and really make sure you have the paint color you love before buying. This will save you headache and money down the road.

  • Don’t use the cheapest paint brush or roller at the store. Look at each type they offer and what they are used for. Make the best choice for your project and not your pocket.

  • Don’t throw away the lid to the paint can. This has the color on it as well as the label for the store to match. You may need this for touch ups in a couple years and may not remember the exact name of the paint you used.

Leave the painting to a professional handyman

Painting can be a large task. From not getting paint on the ceiling or trim, to cutting corners. Let us take the hassle out of your day. Our trained carpenters and contractors have the experience needed to create a beautiful space with the paint of your choice. Give us a call.

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