Best Ways to choose the RIGHT interior paint color.

Benjamin Moore paintOver the years, I have found that the biggest barrier for homeowners to painting is knowing what to chose for their interior paint color.  People are deathly afraid to pick the wrong color.  I think it must be up there with public speaking and death.  People do not like their boring builder grade white walls, but they figure that it is better than putting up the wrong color.  I don’t blame them.  It is a lot of work to paint.  If you are painting yourself, you have to move everything, and totally disrupt your life, and if you are painting a good portion of your living spaces, it means those living spaces will be a mess for weeks.  If you are hiring someone, the disruption is less time, but you are spending money to do it.  You want to make the right call.

TGrey wallshe average painting contractor is no help at picking paint colors either.  Most will just flat our refuse to help you, or they will pick some random color just because the last customer used it, and he has a bunch of it left over.  You want to paint, but how do you pick?

I’ve been a painting contractor for the last 15+ years, and have developed some great techniques that really do help speed up the time it takes to select paint colors, but also help homeowners visualize what the color will look like once up on the wall.  Before you decide to look at paint colors though you need to consider a few things:

  1. You need to decide on the overall FEEL of the room. Do you want it intimate, calm, subdued, or bright and alive?
  2. Do you have other specialty décor pieces? If you have just installed new tile in a kitchen or a bathroom, you most likely want it to stand out.  Maybe you have a major piece of artwork you want to showcase.
  3. How much natural light does the room get? Light source has the biggest impact on color.  This is why you should NEVER select a paint color in the paint store.

Often, rooms that are used in the evening, like the master bedroom and the dining room, can be darker or more intimate.  Deep reds and browns have been effective for me in these spaces.  But punches of color mixed with a fairly neutral color pallet, can be a fun way to punch up a contemporary living room or kitchen.

Nick MayOnce you have given these items some consideration, it is time to look at the rooms themselves and narrow down what you are trying to do.  If you have a dark floor, chances are you will want to go with a lighter wall.  The trend we have been seeing for the last two to three years has been darker floors, and lighter walls.  Lots of light greys and taupe, versus the darker and richer earth tones we were applying 5 years ago.

If the room is on the North side of the house, than the room is typically a little darker, unless you have done a good job at layering your lighting.  If there is a lot of natural light, any color will appear lighter with lots of flooded natural light.  If you are using a fairly light color to begin with, these colors may be hard to see during the middle of the day.  Conversely, all colors will appear darker if they are used in this lighter room, then used in a darker part of the home.

Once you have given some thoughts to the bigger questions, you can start drilling down to what actual colors should be used in the spaces.  I always start by looking at the décor in the room, and pick out a color that is consistently present in the items.  A light tan or gray may be in the throw rug, in pictures, and on an accent chair.  If the flooring is dark and we want an open, airy feel, then you can select a lighter version of this color.  If an accent wall is wanted, maybe you pull the exact color out of the stripe in the throw pillow.  The hardest thing to do is to select a color prior to the room being decorated.  There are no restrictions.  The room can go any direction.  Always decorate the room first, and then select a paint color.

The best way to visualize the color on the wall is NOT to paint a bunch of test samples on the wall.  I cannot tell you how many homes I have walked into and seen this.  That is the equivalent to picking a pair of shoes to go with a new outfit, but using a different outfit when you try on the shoes.  The color of you wrong outfit will effect what the shoes look like, right?  Same thing happens with painting samples on the wall.  You are comparing the color to the white walls (or whatever color the wall is currently painted), which, after painting, will not be there.  Color is effected not only by light, it is effected by the colors it is next to.  My solution to this is to have large samples made (you can buy cardboard at a lot of paint stores) and then hold this in front of items that will be in the room after you paint: brick, the fireplace, a couch, cabinets, rugs, etc.  We use large 18” X 18” color boards made by Benjamin Moore in the Affinity collection for this.  They are already made, and we just hold them up.  You can purchase these as well from many of the Benjamin Moore retailers.  This will also allow you to look at a color in multiple rooms with different lighting.  If you look at the sample and walk around the house, you can actually see the color change appearance right before your eyes.

Hopefully this helps you understand how to find the right interior paint color for your project.  If you still think you need help, at Walls by Design, we help all of our clients find the right color, without charging extra.  If we can help you, please contact our office for an estimate on your project.

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