top of page

5 Pro Tips to Pick the Perfect Paint Color

Every season, paint companies market yet another "new" hue — making it super overwhelming to find the perfect paint color; however, with a few tips and tricks of the trade, I can help you select a color that will bring your vision to life.

1 — Start with Your Hamper: Grab 3 Items that Make You Feel the Way You Want the Room to Feel

Before you click the back button, allow me to explain why. If you already love a color so much that you put it on your body, then you'll love it on the walls too. For example, if your favorite shirt is a dusty blue that makes you feel super calm, then chances are that dusty blue will make you feel super calm in a room too. Makes sense, right? Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Your local paint store can easily color match anything you bring them, so don't restrict yourself to color swatches. Furthermore, it doesn't have to be an exact match to get the right effect. You can pick a color within the same color family and you will still achieve the mood you want.

2 — The Space: Evaluate the Room to Create a Vision

Take the time to dive deep. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is it's main purpose? i.e.: entertainment area, place to eat, space to relax, family time, etc.

  • What is your goal for the space? i.e.: "I want it to feel ____" (fill in the blank) — calming, moody, etc.

  • Is this a high-traffic area with children and pets?

  • Are there a lot of windows? (impacts lighting & more windows = less SF to paint)

  • Are the ceilings low? (7' H - 8' H)

Feel free to add your own questions so you can truly familiarize yourself with your vision.

Once you take the time to set an intention for a space, things really start to fall into place on their own. For high traffic areas, purchase a durable paint that can be wiped down easily. In a room with low ceilings, paint the ceilings white and keep the wall color light to prevent accentuating the short walls. In a moody setting, incorporate dark, warm shades. Whereas, in calming settings, lean towards light, cool tints.

3 — Lighting: Natural, Artificial & Temperature

English Physicist, Sir Isaac Newton, discovered color is made of colored light; therefore, lighting significantly impacts how color appears. Natural light makes colors look different than artificial light. When selecting a color scheme for a particular room, it’s important to analyze the effect the lighting may have on the colors.

Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light that affects the way we perceive colors. Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin (°K) with the sun being the standard at 5500°K. Incandescent light bulbs tend to run at 2300°K rendering a yellowish color cast while most halogen bulbs output light at 3400°K. The newer CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) come in various color temperatures from 2700-6500°K. Those at 5,000-6,000 produce light that is similar to natural light (sunlight) while the lower temperatures will produce a yellowish cast. Anything past the 6000°K mark will produce a cooler light with a bluish cast. Today we can find the color temperature on most light bulbs in the market expressed as degrees kelvin. A room furnished with warm tones may look too warm if lit with incandescent lights; perhaps a higher color temperature will be preferred.

To get an accurate representation of how a color will look in your space, purchase 8oz. paint cans of the colors you're interested in. On primed walls, paint a 2' H x 2' W square on all of the walls the color will potentially go on, that way you see how the color responds as the sun rises and sets. Additionally, purchase various lightbulbs to test which bring out the tone you're aiming for. Keep in mind, shades dull the strength of light, which also affects the color of the paint.

4 — Room Square Footage: Does Size Matter??

The general rule of thumb — that everybody has heard a million times — is light colors make a room seem larger aka brighter, while dark colors make the room seem smaller aka cozier; however, that does not mean you cannot use dark colors in smaller spaces. The final decision is wholly based on the mood you are trying to set. There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a cozy room for an office, reading area, dining area, mud-room, powder room, guest room, pantry, bedroom, nursery, playroom, media room, etc. Do not allow any "rules" to stop you from creating the room of your dreams.

As an alternative to painting an entire room, painting an accent wall will add interest without overwhelming the space. I recommend painting the accent wall behind existing focal points such as a fireplace, bed, dining table or you can create your own focal point with an accent color. The easiest way to identify the correct wall for a focal point is to determine where you want everyones' eyes to look when they first walk into the room.

5 — Existing Décor: Look to Other Elements in the Room for Inspiration

If you're having trouble selecting a paint color, work with what you have. Perhaps you have a colorful rug or piece of artwork that you can pull a color from. Nana's loveseat is a mauvey purple, then consider marigold or yellow tones which are complimentary hues. If you don't want the wall to perfectly match, I suggest having your local paint store create a tint based on a color pulled from your room. A tint is when you take a color and add white to reduce the vibrance. This is an awesome way to incorporate color without overcommitting. Alternatively, if your furniture and pillows are already colorful then you may want to do a neutral tone on the walls for balance.

I suggest reading my blog on Color Theory to learn more about hue, tone, tint & shade and how they correspond with each other. You can also follow me on TikTok and IG to watch 2-minute videos on these topics.

Bottomline, each space is unique so have fun and remember, it's just paint! You can always cover it!


bottom of page