Tips for choosing paint colors

For me, one of the most intimidating parts of decorating my house is choosing paint colors. Since there are endless options, choosing just a few is overwhelming.

So I’ve read as many articles and tip lists as I can, and I’ve asked friends and family for their suggestions too. Here are a few things that have helped me narrow the options to about 10 instead of 30 or 40.

Choose a palette for the house. Experts suggest identifying a palette so colors will flow from room to room. People who know what they’re doing have already put together hundreds of palette options (search “paint palette” or “color palette” on Pinterest for ideas), and for a few years, I’ve known this would be the palette for my house:

Swatches via blog.purehome.com, but the link is broken—sorry!

Just because I chose these colors doesn’t mean they’ll show up as paint on my walls. But because I know what colors I want to see throughout my house, I can choose wall colors that complement those.

Reach out to people who know what works. One of my best girlfriends is an interior designer, and she has a few tried-and-true colors she’s used over and over for clients (Sherwin-Williams Shoji White is one of these). She’s always generous with her insights, and I know when I have questions, she’ll have the answers.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a designer friend, identify a designer whose work you like and research his or her portfolio or magazine features to see what paint colors are recommended or used repeatedly. And don’t be afraid to ask friends and family what colors they love in their own homes. They’ll be flattered that you asked, and you don’t have to be a designer to have good taste.

Paint movable swatches. My sister decorated a beautiful home a couple years ago, and instead of painting the samples directly on her walls, she painted swatches on foam core she could move from wall to wall or room to room to see how each color looked at different times of day in different locations.

Narrow your options. I wish I remembered the source, but I read that before buying a hundred paint samples, limit yourself to five at most per room. This saves time and money and forces you to be decisive at the front end.

I’ll be buying a bunch of testers next week and figuring out what the winners are. Tell me, what are your tips for selecting paint colors? •

One thought

  1. How about a “do not” tip? Do not go by 20 gallons of a color before you have properly tested the color during different times of day. Back in our newlywed days I took on the task of painting the exterior of our home. Got a swatch I thought I liked. Bought 20 gals. Painted half the house. Didn’t love it.😆

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