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I wish this could be answered easily! But there are so many things that go into making the selection the “right” choice. This is not about all the nitty-gritty technical details about the colors, such as the Light Reflective Value (LRV), Hues, Full-Spectrum vs non-Full-Spectrum, and so much more. Rather, just some quick tips to picking a paint color for your home if you need to do this on your own.
When you are choosing paint colors for your home there are several key things to keep in mind.
DO NOT CHOOSE A PAINT COLOR WHEN YOU ARE IN THE PAINT STORE
This is just all around a bad idea. An expensive idea. One that just usually doesn’t work out.
Take the paint chips home, then narrow it down from there. At this point, go back and get a sample of the favorite(s) mixed. Paint a poster board and use this “real” oversized paint chip to help you make your final decision. By using a poster board, you can move the color from wall to wall and see how it looks on each wall. You can observe the color at all times of the day.
Do not try to be that “special” person who thinks they can walk in to the badly lit store (yes, with the humming fluorescent lights above) and choose colors for your home without testing them.
Nothing worse than your beautiful color turning hideous after sunset because you didn’t look at it in the evening light.
(I’m not sure if I’m impressed or horrified when I see the customer who comes into the paint store, when I’m standing there getting my carefully selected paint color mixed, who says “I need paint for my house” and then heads over to the giant wall of color swatches, selects one for each room, gets them mixed, and then leaves! I always wonder how that works out.)
LIGHTING IS KEY
This concept took a little while to “sink in” with me. But then one day when I was searching for the perfect creamy-ivory for a room, I had my a-ha moment.
Even if your room is flooded with light, you need to think about what type of light is it getting. Is the light only coming in from one direction? I had a room with a giant double window, with an atrium window over top. The room was so bright, how could an ivory not work? Well, the window was only on one wall, which meant that there were shadows always being cast on the walls all the time. The color never looked like ivory. (See? I had samples up to look at). It always had a gray tint to it due to the shadows. In that case, I ended up just going with a rich gray and it worked out
just fine great. Not my original vision of course.
DO NOT PICK A COLOR BASED ON A PHOTO
Speaking of lighting, the photos you see in magazines were professionally lit. This is important to keep in mind. The professional photos found on Houzz were lit by the photographer or altered during post-production. Below is a gorgeous room found on Houzz. It has been saved to a lot of idea books, people want to get this look. In fact, it was my inspiration for the room I mentioned above. Without being in the actual room, we don’t know how the lighting is “in real life”. This photo looks great thanks to the photographer’s lighting (there are probably assistants standing with reflectors to bounce the light back into the room, etc.) and also because there is light coming from various exposures. We can see in this photo that there are windows on at least two of the walls, which indicates it gets different light exposures. If YOU get light from several different directions, this might be a great look to consider. This is a perfect example of why you cannot just take the name of this paint color and assume if you paint your room in this color, it will look like this. I tried this color in that big well-lit room, and the color did not look like this at all. In my room it looked like the color you see in this photo to the right of the curtains on the right side of the photo. The color is Benjamin Moore Linen White, by the way.
This room was designed by Linda Burkhardt, click here for more of her work.
You can use the photos from magazines, Houzz, and all of those blog photos as inspriation. But do not assume that if it looks good in the picture, it will look like that in your house. (Refer back to the testing on poster board section).
Sometimes I will scroll through one of my Pinterest boards and try to see what is the common look that the photos share. What is it that made me pin it in the first place. If it is a color, then I know what direction I want to go in. I might even test out the colors in those photos, but now I know that I should not be disappointed when it does not look the same in my room.
TAKING A CUE FROM YOUR BELONGINGS
If you have a sofa in a strong color, I don’t think you should also have walls painted in a strong color. Same with a rug–if you have one in a bold color, then you don’t want to repeat that on the wall. The old phrase “Too Many Clowns” comes to mind.
I think you should pull a color from something you already have. Maybe you have a fabric on a chair with multiple colors in it, pull a color from that. Maybe a rug with a pattern in it, pull a color (not too bold) for the walls.
I don’t think I could do a bright color on the walls with this rug. But I did pull one of the softer blue colors from it to use on the ceiling, it is Benjamin Moore’s Constellation.
AND SPEAKING OF BLUE
I am not going to give any suggestions on specific paint colors, but I do get a lot of clients who “love blue”. Until they see what happens when you paint with blue.
Biggest piece of advice when someone wants to paint with blue:
Blue can be difficult because when you put it on all four walls it will grow in intensity. And that beautiful blue you just loved because it reminded you of the ocean when you were on vacation in The Bahamas, turns your room into Crazy-town. So, if you want to go with a blue, you need to make it a grown-up blue. Look at the grays in the fan deck that lean towards blue. Benjamin Moore’s Thundercloud Gray is a perfect example.
If you need help choosing paint colors for your home, please reach out to a local Color Expert or an Interior Designer or Decorator in your area. They can save you a lot of time and money. (If you think painting is expensive, try paying for it twice). One of my favorite Color Experts is my friend, Amy Woolf. Check out her webpage, click here , she has a lot of great information and inspiration share.