10 Tips for Finding the Right Paint Color

Bookmark this post and file it away for the last part of your design project. Why? The number of paint colors available are literally infinite, but furnishings in your preferred style and price range are much more limited. Here are some great tips you can keep in your back pocket for when it’s time to pick out the perfect hue:

  1. Know your undertones – Above all, the look that will result in you being the most at ease is cohesiveness. Will you be pleased if the undertone shows up? Will it coordinate with the adjacent rooms and furnishings? A quick tip to spot the undertone quickly: pick up every shade of the color you’re considering for a comparison.
  2. Consider your home’s location – i.e. southwest sunlight is whiter, while northeast light is more gray. You can affect the lighting from here by adding fixtures and selecting specific bulbs to throw the desired color of light that you want in t he space.
  3. Think about reflections from the outdoors – When the windows are open, what is the backdrop? Landscaping? Water? Light reflecting off of a lawn for example will cause a nearby wall color to appear more green.
  4. Consider the cardinal direction that your windows face – South-facing windows allow the most winter sunlight in but little direct sun during the summer, especially when properly shaded. North-facing windows admit relatively even, natural light. East- and west-facing windows provide good daylight in the morning and evening, respectively.
  5. Stick with neutrals – and wait on your accent colors. But wait…what is a neutral? It isn’t necessarily just white, beige, or gray. It’s technically a light shade of any color.
  6. Use the process of elimination – and avoid second-guessing yourself by discarding as you go. There’s nothing worse than swimming in a sea of paint color confusion as your infant happily munches and slobbers on all of your paint swatch cards. I may know from experience.
  7. Coordinate adjacent rooms – Ex. pair a beige hue with a green undertone next to a blue-gray hue with a green undertone.
  8. View colors together and at the same time of day – This is the best way to be sure there will be a cohesive flow throughout.
  9. Know that looking down at a paint sample is. not. the. color. – And often, paint from a sample jar is often still not the color! Paint or “color” samples can lack the latex binding agent and their bases and colorants are revised on a regular basis. In the end, the paint chip is the ultimate target. Some companies will even ship you oversized chips to make it easier to choose!
  10. Consider a color’s LRV (Light Reflectivity Value) – The closer the number is to zero, the more light the color will absorb. Conversely, the closer the number is to 100, the more light the color will reflect into your space.

The biggest (and often least expensive) way to make an impact on a room is with paint. I hope these tips have taught you a few ways to narrow down your color choices and help you to feel more confident when it’s time to pick out a color!

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