March 2 , 2007

10 Tips For Choosing Paint Colors

The color of a room can make a space appear larger or smaller, it can camouflage flaws, or it can set a mood. Color can be energizing or calming, welcoming or dramatic. A coat of paint is one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive ways to transform space. Here are 10 tips that take the fear out of choosing paint colors.

1. Paint chips Colors on the chips can look different from how they appear on the way so test two or three samples and live with the samples for a few days before making your selection. This way you can see the colors in a variety of light conditions. Also paint companies like C2 and Donald Kaufman Color Factory sell paint chips made with actual paint, not a color that’s made by printing processes. This makes for truer samples.

2. Walls A plain coat of paint can do wonders for your walls, but you don’t have to stop there. Stamps, stencils, murals, stripes and colors blocks, plus all kinds of faux finishes can bring interest to your walls as well. Let your imagination soar!

3. Trim A consistent choice of trim color throughout the house can add flow. A popular choice is white as it reflects light creating an airy feel. But just about any color can work.

4. Ceilings The standard for years has been to paint the ceiling white. But trends are changing. Why not try a muted sky blue or a percentage of the wall color mixed with white?

5. Furniture High-gloss paint can spruce up tired wood furniture. Paint items alike to create a unified look or choose different colors to add character.

6. Latex or Oil? Unless you are painting floors or bare wood, latex is a greener choice. It has less odor, dries faster, and clean-up is a snap.

7. Materials and Preparation Buy the best materials you can afford. A good brush is an investment worth making. With proper cleaning and storage, it will last for many years and make all the difference in the paint application. Prep your walls well and the paint will go on smoother and look better.

8. Small Spaces Conventional wisdom states that light colors make a small space look bigger. But no amount of white paint will make a diminutive powder room or entry feel palatial. So why not add a touch of spice to your small space, like a pleasant surprise.

9. Kids’ Spaces Since children often prefer bold colors that are too bright for adult sensibilities, compromise can be the way to go. Try choosing softer tones in the same family color family of your child’s preference. Then you can bring in the drama with accent pieces. What could be more fun than a lipstick-red end table?Ilanas_room

10.Take a Risk Even if you are hesitant about darker hues, don’t automatically resort to play-it-safe white. For the cost of a can of paint, you can try something different. You may just surprise yourself in how much you like it.

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18 thoughts on “10 Tips For Choosing Paint Colors”

  1. If a home has beautiful pine trim thoughout half the home and the other white. Should I go ahead and paint all white, paint the white trim brown or leave it different colors throught each room.

  2. Thanks Candace for posting. Here I my basic thoughts. I hope this is helpful.
    I do not think you should paint white trim brown to match the pine. Paint and wood never look the same. You could strip it to get it back to pine, but that is CRAZY time consuming and the paint never comes completely off.
    Since you think the pine is beautiful, my guess is you’d like to keep it. So why not keep some of it? Is there any consistency? Front of the house/back of the house? First floor second floor? (That’s what we did for This Old House — Front of the house wood, back white trim.)
    I would avoid every other room a different trim though. That can be jumpy.
    But really it’s hard to tell without seeing your house and the trim.
    Best of luck.

  3. Our living area is full of dark leather furniture, a brick fireplace, and high vaulted ceiling. Right now the paint color is white for the ceiling and a light tan on the walls. We want to add some character by adding color to the ceiling and maybe painting the focal wall which is the tallest, a bold color. The only thing that is a concern is that the room tends to be dark in the evening. Any suggestions?

  4. Thanks for your question Vicki. Sounds like you have two issues– not enough light. That’s easy. Add some table lamps, floor lamps or sconces and chandeliers. Lighting can make all the difference. The second issue seems to be that you have dark tones (the furniture) and light tones, the tan. Try adding some pattern as well as medium tones. Pillows or a rug are a great way to go. Another thought, and a lot of people hate this, especially men for some reason, is to paint the brick. That’s a whole new way to lighten the room. Unless the brick is really beautiful, I’d think about painting it.

  5. I am moving into a 600 sq ft 1 bdrm apt. I want color on the walls. With such a small space should I be painting the apt all one color? I would also like to ask if you have any suggestions as to what color I should choose as I am looking for something airy and calming.

  6. Nice guide to selecting the right color. Like this one: “light colors make a small space look bigger.” It reminds me of my cousin’s room makeover. Sure one room was dark red, yet it was purely dedicated as a TV room. So it had a theater style look. Now that being said, your tip makes sense because I can’t imagine spending long periods of time in that room — i.e. intense color in small space. Another one that comes to mind is Starbucks; noticed some of their stores painting one wall dark, intense color while leaving the rest pale. I guess it follows your tip.
    John Taylor,
    liverpool blinds quick tips on selecting the right shape and styling your room

  7. Find some inspiration. Flip through a few design magazines, read a couple of decor blogs – there’s a plethora of colourful information out there. So much in fact, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Wait for a colour that really strikes you and see if it’ll work on your own walls.

  8. Right now the paint color is white for the ceiling as well as a light tan on the walls. They need to add some character by adding color to the ceiling and perhaps painting the focal wall which is the tallest, a bold color.

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  10. Thanks for the help. We’re never quite sure where to begin when looking to change the color of the room, but this points us in the right direction. Thanks, Abbey!

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