How to make smart color choices

With spring around the corner color is about to surround us all—that Mother Nature has an eye for color, doesn’t she? I have good news. You don’t have to wait for Mother Nature to add color to your life. Painting is the most affordable and easiest change you can make to update your space. If you are afraid of selecting color fear not, I’m here to assist.

Let’s talk about some common myths and I’ll offer a few helpful suggestions.

Myth: Dark colors make a room feel smaller.
Not necessarily true. High contrast between large pieces in a room make it feel smaller because the contrast highlights the size of the room. It breaks up the room rather than expanding it. If you paint your room dark blue and have a sofa of a similar shade they will “blend” and open up the room. If you are painting a room a dark color just keep the contrast of large pieces (sofas and curtains) down and you will expand the room.

This of course also means that light colors don’t necessarily make a room feel bigger. Again, contrast impacts that perception.

Myth: When decorating, pick your paint color first.
Paint is available in ANY color. If you can’t find the color you want on a chip, a paint store can custom mix a color to match anything. So, since sofas and bedding are not available in ANY color, begin your color selections with the large pieces in your room. Then, pick a paint color to coordinate. It doesn’t have to match exactly, but should compliment the larger pieces in the room.

This is not to say that you can’t decorate around a paint color—for example, if you know your décor will be black and white the sky is the limit for wall color—but selecting paint first can limit your choices in other areas.

Myth: If you like the color in the store you’ll like it at home.
Please, please, please do not go to a paint store, pick a color from a chip and go home with a gallon of paint. There are so many reasons why you should not do this. The first is that a tiny paint chip cannot begin to show you how actual paint will look on your walls in your house.

Every color looks different in every space. Your room’s light, floor color, furniture and surrounding room colors will impact how a color looks on your walls.

Here are my suggestions for selecting paint colors for your home.
Based on the note above about basing color on furnishings in your home, visit the paint store and select as many paint chips as you like and think might look good and bring them home! Feel free to bring inspirations with you to help you make your decision. Take 10 strips of blue, take 20 if you need them. It’s okay; they are free.

Once home, use painters tape to attach the chips to the wall. You need to look at the colors on the wall—not in your hand. The color looks different at different angles. Try to narrow the colors down to 2 – 3 that you like.

Next, buy samples of each and paint a 2’ x 2’ size swatch on your walls. Make sure you do two coats if needed. You want to see how the colors will really look. Look at the colors in the day, the night, give them a few days to make you happy or turn you off. Go with your gut. This is not a time to talk yourself into something, it will not look better with time!

If you like the color a lot but are worried about painting an entire room X color, select one wall and paint that wall. Select the wall your eye first sees as you enter the room. You may love it enough to paint the entire room, or you may just leave it on one wall. Finally, if you are making a dramatic color change make sure to use the right primer, your paint supplier can provide the right primer for your color.

It’s not unusual to experience a bit of shock when a room is painted a new color, but these pre-steps are the best way to “test drive” a color and reduce the post-painting shock.

I can’t tell you what colors to pick (unless I'm in your house!), but I know this will get you off to a great start and I always encourage folks to try new things in the world of color…be brave!


Anonymous said...

So what is your feeling on bold, maybe not dark, colors in a REALLY small space, like a bathroom. My powder room is a stark white that is probably not the best complement to my darkish tile, which is medium to dark blue with some light orange stain and grey grouting. (Sounds ugly but it's not.) I want something bolder but thus far nothing has worked. We painted it grey, then yellow/orange, then white. My husband refused to paint it again, so I want to be sure I have a good color before I try to paint it myself! :) Any thoughts?

April Force Pardoe said...

All of my bathrooms, except the one featured on this blog, have been painted in mid - dark tones. I love a cozy bathroom! Choosing a color from your tile is a GREAT way to go. Blue sounds like a good start. If you have an extra tile, take one to the paint store and grab tons of paint chips that pull out colors in your tile. It sounds like you have several options. Go home, look at them and then sample a few colors. I'm sure you will be happy w/your choice this time around. Good luck! April

April Force Pardoe said...

And keep in mind, it doesn't have to match exactly, it just has to have the same undertone, or be a similar shade.

Anonymous said...

How did you get the computer pics of your downstaires room in the different color paint selections ??