How to Pick Paint Colors

Picking paint colors can get confusing, but you don’t need to hire a decorator. Use these professional tips for choosing paint colors to turn your home into a haven.

  • Use the color wheel.

    Being familiar with the standard color wheel can help you pick the best paint and decorations for your home. Discover how primary, secondary, and tertiary colors work together at artSparx.

  • Assess intensity and value

    The brightness of a color is its intensity, such as fire engine red. Sky blue and beige are low-intensity colors. Every color has a range of values from light to dark.

  • Paint strips show a color, such as blue, and several hues ranging from lightest to darkest in intensity and value. The safest color selection is one of the two colors in the middle of the strip.

  • Know your color scheme

    Color schemes fall into three categories: complementary, analogous, and neutral. Complementary schemes combine a primary and secondary color from opposite sides of the color wheel (red and green). Analogous colors are either warm (reds, oranges, and yellows) and cool (greens, blues, and violets). Neutrals are colors not included in a color wheel, such as browns, whites, and blacks.

  • Visualize the undertones in colors

    The look of a paint color can change dramatically, depending on what’s next to it. Except for red, blue, and yellow, all colors are mixed. That white wall might take on pink undertones next to a red Oriental rug.

    Undertones are hard to spot until it’s too late. If you take a focal piece, such as a pillow or photo, to a paint store, the clerk will be able to help you avoid these problems.

  • Evaluate natural and artificial light

    Look at your paint chips under the kind of light in room: direct, indirect, or artificial light. Look at the paint chips against furniture and rugs. Pick your favorites and get a small jar to brush on a piece of white poster board. Tape the dried poster board to the wall and evaluate again. Assessing a larger color samples ensures that you’re making the right choice.

  • Create a mood with color

    Color affects mood and the way you perceive the ambience of a space. Cool colors are calming and warm colors energize a room. Pair a warm color with a cooler complement to create energy.

  • Change a room’s size with color

    To make a small room appear larger, paint it a pale, cool color. To make a large room feel more cozy, use warm colors or darker, more intense hues.

  • Consider colors in adjacent rooms

    You want one room to flow naturally into the next although you don’t have to use the same color. Select complementary color schemes, or vary the intensity of one hue.

  • Coordinate paint with furniture and flooring

    Highlight a favorite painting or rug by letting it inspire your color scheme. The trick is to choose a paint color that blends with the piece instead of matching it exactly.

  • Play it safe with neutrals

    Neutrals blend in with other colors. They are considered “safe” wall treatments. If you’re selling your home, most potential buyers have an easier time visualizing their furnishings when looking at neutral walls.

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