• Michelle Foley

How to Decide on Paint Colors


I have to say that one of my favorite, but also least favorite, things is deciding on paint colors. I'm not sure how to describe why one thing can be both loved and hated but if you're working on a new house or space you likely know what I'm talking about. I suppose it is because a room color can make or break a room, and when done right, can be the most satisfying part to finishing any room. However, the fear of picking the wrong color can loom over you for months! Because I have a lot of experience in color selection I thought I'd share my tips on how to pick your paint color so that you only have to do it once :)



Benjamin Moore "Classic Gray" - Stunning space by @timbertrailshomes

1. Find inspirational pictures (Like this one I shared above!)- and lots of them. I suggest first checking out Houzz. If you filter by room and style you can start combing through pictures of spaces you like and the wall colors you are drawn to. Also on Houzz (more so than say Pinterest or Instagram) you're likely to be able to find out what paint color has been used from the comments or questions. If not don't be afraid to send a message to whomever posted the photo and ask them for the paint color!


2. Once you have found a few pictures that inspire you- create a list of your top 4-5 color choices. (If you have more than this at first it's ok but the fewer you can narrow it down to the easier, and cheaper, it will be for you at the paint store.) A tip to help narrow down your choices is to then type in the color name (I.E. "Benjamin Moore Pale Oak") to Pinterest and see other example pictures of the color being used in different spaces with different lighting. Just make sure the pictures you're seeing is in fact the color you're searching for- generally clicking on the picture will link you to the associated website and there you can see if it's the real color you're looking to see.


3. Once you have your finalized list- head to the paint store! I recommend getting samples of every color you're considering. Also, in case you didn't know; Ace Hardware will color match Sherwin Williams paint colors into Benjamin Moore paints. A lot of people won't care about this, but if you or your spouse is like my husband this can be useful. My husband swears by BM paints and refuses to use anything but. So when I was really into the idea of SW Repose Gray this was an excellent option for me!


Benjamin Moore "Balboa Mist" - Used in this lovely dining room by @saltandlightliving

4. At the paint store get samples of each color you're considering. Definitely check out the color swatches they have available but keep in mind they can be deceiving and every paint color looks different on the wall, and even in different rooms! Along with the samples make sure you get samples boards to paint the colors onto (sold by most paint stores) to use to test the colors.


5. If possible I definitely suggest putting the samples up on the walls of the room you're working on. But if not possible the paint boards are a great option. Also if you're trying to choose a color that will go through out multiple rooms, the color boards are a great tool because you can carry them from room to room and look at them in the different light at different times of the day. Make sure you do look at the colors during all times of the day. A color may look totally different in the morning light than it will in the evening. It may even look different on two different walls within one room.


6. And if you're working on a non-existent space (I.E. a new house) you really are going to have to go off of example pictures and the color put on a paint sample board. It's also beneficial to talk to other people, whether you find them on social media or in real life, and ask about their experiences with the color. I've found this to be the most helpful and it's always a true testament to the color when someone "swears by it!"


The accent wall in our current house

7. Don't be afraid to do an accent wall! If you want to do an overall light color, but are worried that it might not be enough color or contrast for a very large space, don't be afraid to pick a wall and make it pop! I did this with a DARK (and I mean dark) brown in our living room and I never looked back. It gives the room something so extra and it would have just been so plain without it. At the same time I didn't want an overall darker color in that room because it needed to get carried through the rest of the house and the rest of the house would have been made to feel smaller if we did a darker color through out.


8. Ask others who have similar taste to you what they think. I find it helpful to ask others but only when done right; make sure they know the in's and outs of the room you're deciding on the color for and you're not just asking them blindly which color they like best. Sometimes its better to go with a cooler tone than a warmer tone based on the room, but by nature they person could naturally gravitate to warmer tones. This may be their preference in general but not necessarily what they think would work best for the space in question. It's important to give as much information as possible to whomever you're seeking help from in order for them to help you make an informed decision.


9. When REALLY in doubt, hire help! And see my page on available design services if it comes to that ;)



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