February 13th, 2012

3 Steps to Choosing the Right Paint Color

Choosing a new paint color for your walls is an exciting feeling. There’s nothing quite like a fresh coat of paint to completely change the mood of a room. Exciting as it is, success results from following a few steps to ensure you pick the very best color that you’ll love for years to come.


1. Start with a source of inspiration. The simplest way to choose a paint color is to start with something that will actually live in the space as a source of inspiration. It can be a decorative object, a textile, something organic, a print or piece of art—anything you love that inspires you. Once you find that thing or that fabric, the easiest way to choose a paint color for the walls is to use that source of inspiration as your starting point.


Fabric or artwork is always a great place to start, but it really can be anything that you use as your jumping off point. For example, I’m using this inspiration fabric for a girl’s room makeover and I’m looking for a soft but not too pale gray to be the backdrop for a space that will be filled with colorful fabrics and accessories.



2. Narrow down your choices to a few favorites. Once your eye is drawn to the color you’re looking for, start narrowing down your choices to a few in the same family in slightly darker and lighter shades. If you’re choosing a more vivid color, it’s nice to lean towards a “muddier,” less saturated shade for the walls. Colors with a hint of gray or umber as an undertone tend to look better on the walls than their more saturated cousins, which can often be too vibrant and jarring. Look at your swatches in different light and up against your source of inspiration, pick three to four favorites, and head down to your local paint store.


3. Test your paint swatches. It’s easy to wake up on a Saturday morning with the urge to “paint today!” but it’s best to grab some samples first. Paint companies like Glidden have gotten smart about offering samples to their buyers because they know the importance of always, always, always testing paint on the walls before you invest in a gallon or two of paint. It’s far better to spend a few extra dollars in the beginning on samples to be 100% sure than to spend money on a gallon of paint you may not like once you’ve painted a room.


Apply your samples in several places in the room, next to a window and in a darker corner and see how the samples change over the course of a day. Putting these samples up on the wall will give you the opportunity to see the color in changing light to decide if your sample choices are too dark, too light, too intense, too blah, etc.



The same advice holds true to painting outdoors as well. Last summer, I painted my front door, but before I did, I followed the same tips, narrowing down my colors to a few favorites and testing swatches on a piece of poster board. Taking the extra time yielded the look I was going for on our front door.




Good luck in your search for the perfect paint color and don’t forget, if you’re looking for inspiration from an image of your own, be sure to check out the My Image Inspiration Tool—upload an image and a selection of palettes will be generated for you!