Patricia Shannon for Better Homes & Gardens on picking the best paint color.
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Forget painter’s remorse. This is your no-regret strategy for choosing the perfect paint color for your home.
The most arduous process in painting your home might just be selecting a color. Sure, removing wallpaper or trying to give a dark ceiling a white paint job can be difficult. But mind-numbingly stressful? Typically not. Now add multiple rooms to your paint color to-do list and you have your work set out for you.
If you’re wondering where to begin when it comes to picking paint colors, start by taking a look around your home, says Sue Kim, color marketing director at Valspar. “Some of your favorite home decor pieces have color palettes already built in to help inspire color throughout your home,” she says. “Pick a favorite accessory piece in your home to work the color palette around, whether it be a painting, patterned accent pillow, or vase.”
We asked Kim to spill the secrets for selecting a color palette without fear of painter’s remorse. Here are the must-dos for picking paint that will make the process a little less daunting.
1. Go Outdoors
If you’re starting with a blank slate, whether moving into a new home or ditching your furnishings for a total refresh, start by looking at the colors outside your windows. “Bringing colors from the outside landscape into your home is a great approach,” Kim says. You’ll find that these earth-tone colors naturally work well together and create a soothing space inside, too.
“With the popularity of biophilic design in home trends, being connected to the natural environment has never been more important to creating a relaxed calming environment,” Kim says. Organic paint colors designed to create a calming environment are both on-trend and neutral enough for lasting appeal, which could even boost your home value if resale is on the horizon.
2. Start with a Neutral Foundation
“Paint trends continue to evolve with home interior and lifestyle trends,” says Kim. “To keep your home feeling fresh and timeless, keep the overall foundational color of your home a neutral.” From there, it’s as simple as bringing in trendier colors in ways that can easily be swapped out or updated, like cabinets, small decor accents, and even doors. That way, your home stays current but doesn’t require a full overhaul with each new color of the year.
3. Make It Cohesive
Just because you opt for a soft shade of sage green in one room, doesn’t mean you need to swath every room with that color from crown molding to baseboards. However, your selections do need to make sense and flow from one room to another. “In transitional spaces, like foyers and hallways, use neutral shades or a lighter option than used in other rooms,” Kim says. “For example, if you have a navy living room, paint the connecting hallways a light gray with a blue undertone. It’s a nice transition in tone and less contrast as you move from space to space.”
4. Utilize Paint Chips and Swatches
The color selection products offered at paint and hardware stores are designed to help make your life easier—not just give you a million more choices. Use fan decks to help narrow down your selection. Once you’ve picked three colors, you’re in the home stretch. Next, hold paint chips against the wall to see which works best in your space.
“If you are wanting even more confirmation on which paint color to choose once you have narrowed a shade from paint chips, try painting a small swatch on your wall,” says Kim. “You can get a color sample at the store. [It’s] a great way to test the color on the wall and see how the shade looks throughout the day with natural lighting and home furnishings.”
Factors such as sun exposure, your decor, and existing architectural details all play a role in how a paint color works in your room. You won’t be able to see whether they harmonize unless you give colors a chance to play together first.
5. Get Smart
If you’re someone who prefers to let technology do the heavy lifting, most paint brands now have programs that can help you select paint colors and show you how they will look in your space. They can also ensure you don’t need a mid-project trip to the hardware store. “Valspar’s paint calculator is a fantastic resource when you’re ready to start your project,” says Kim. “Oftentimes, you can be uncertain about the amount of paint needed, and by simply typing in the measurements of the space and product, we are able to help estimate the amount of paint you will need to complete the job.”
6. Find Common Ground
Choosing a paint color on your own is hard enough, but selecting a paint color with your spouse or other family members can turn into a full-on battle if you’re working with different design aesthetics. For these situations, Kim suggests starting in separate (open-minded) corners.
“Have each individual narrow down their top color choices, bring those shades together, and narrow down from those options. Keep an open mind and try to visualize the other person’s color choice,” she says. If you still can’t agree, table the discussion for another day. If you’re in a stalemate, consider consulting a color expert who can help narrow down selections and even pull a paint color scheme based on your combined personal styles.
Gone are the days of letting blah walls sit plain for far too long because you don’t know where to begin with selecting paint colors. With this paint plan, you’ll be ready to roll in no time.