How to Select Colors for Your Walls

Are you getting ready to paint a room or select colors for your entire house? For many, this process is daunting and paralyzing. I watch some of my clients simply torture themselves over paint colors and often I wonder, why? Then, I step back and realize that this is their process and I’m along for the ride. It might sound strange, but I just know what the right color is – it’s a gut thing and I always trust my gut. Kind of like when a doctor can call a diagnosis from the door or when an attorney instinctually knows exactly what to say and it’s spot on or when an accountant can spot a glaring mistake out of a sea of numbers. Those are certainly not my talent, but design is. So, besides my gut, let me share with you some hints and tips that might settle you into feeling really good about your color selections.

SET A GOAL: What do you want the room to feel like? What are you trying to convey in that space? All business? Relax? Party? Cozy? Walls go away and the artwork stands proud?

TRIED + TRUE: There is no getting around it, there are simply some great, classic colors that you cannot go wrong with. I share these with you in my previous blogs “Paint Colors to Inspire” and “Is Color Back?” Sometimes, you simply don’t have to look very far, and the answer is right there. Select from these colors and you are not going to go wrong.

APPLICATION: Choosing too many different colors is jarring to the eye and creates inconsistency in the house.

The common spaces to include hallways and stairwells should be ONE color while the bedrooms or any closed rooms can be any color you select. I suggest this color is neutral and steps into the background to let the eye look at other beautiful things in the space like art, cabinetry, countertops, furniture, and more.

The entire trim package should be the exact same color. This will impact your selection of color for your cabinetry if it is white since the cabinetry has a crown, and typically the crown connects to the crown molding in the room. If your cabinetry is green, it will transition to white at the connection between wall and cabinet but changing from one shade of white to another can look like a mistake.

Accent walls are great for changing color and establishing a mood, but make sure that it still flows with the primary color of the space and is either shades lighter or (typically) darker. For example, large gable end walls are fun to paint a darker color to make the space feel cozy and safe.

SHOP WISELY AND DON’T OVERWHELM YOURSELF: The paint store is similar to the tile store with endless possibilities. Endless! For example, if you love a paint color but you think it is just too dark, you can have it cut with white by any percent. But beware, it will change color and you might not like it or it will become a color already on the market. Start with cutting 50% and if you can’t get the color you love, abandon that shade and find something similar in that lighter hue. Try really hard to just make two trips to the paint store, the more colors you select and test, the more confused your brain will become. My suggestion is to start with the “Tried + True” colors, go to the store with a short shopping list and go directly to the counter. Skip over the plethora of samples and let the salespeople guide you with your curated list.

Long and short, everyone does have that “Paint Gut” that tells them what they love or hate – you just need to tap into it. And if you really feel that you don’t have it, just go with one of the “Tried +True” colors and stop your own torture. I promise it will be okay!


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