Ready to paint but struggling to nail down the perfect color for your space? Use these tips and tricks to learn exactly how to choose paint colors for your home.
Choosing paint colors is a hard task – there are so many options and painting is a lot of work so you want to get it right the first time!
While it can seem overwhelming to walk into the paint section of a home improvement store with all the paint chips surrounding you, there are some definite tricks for making it easier.
In today’s post I’m going to teach you everything you need to know for picking the perfect paint colors for your home or project!
How to Pick Paint Colors for Your Home
How do I pick the right paint color?
Follow my fool-proof 6-step process for picking the right paint color:
- Start with Inspiration
- Collect Paint Chips
- Buy Paint Samples
- Paint Samples on Every Wall
- Paint a Larger Section of Your Favorite
This process is explained in much more detail at the bottom of this post!
What should be considered when choosing a color?
When you’re choosing a paint color for you walls, you want to consider all the other colors in the space.
This includes other walls and trim, flooring, cabinetry, furniture and decor.
Sometimes it’s easier to choose your paint color based on the colors you already have, rather than choosing a paint then trying to decorate around it.
This concept is why Step 2 is important in my 6-Step Process for Picking Paint – it allows you to compare your paint color ideas to the colors already in your space.
Scroll down for more detail on this process!
How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Home Interior
Interior paint colors are much harder to choose than exterior because they have to match and take into account a full home worth of furnishings and fixtures!
Our process for picking paint colors (described below) will help you take each of these things into account.
The one additional thing to consider is what colors you use throughout your home and how to make them cohesive.
Do your best to keep your paint colors in the same paint spectrum – either warm or cool.
The warm spectrum includes yellow-based colors, like red, orange or yellow. Neutrals would be creams and browns.
The cool spectrum includes blue-based colors, like green, blue and purple. Neutrals would be greys and blacks.
Most people are drawn to one of these two spectrums, so whichever you prefer, stick with that throughout your entire home to give it a cohesive look.
What is the best color to paint a living room?
I always encourage people to paint their living room in a neutral color – white, light grey, taupe or cream.
That way, you can furnish and decorate using any colors you want and easily change up that decor for the seasons!
How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Home Exterior
To choose your home’s exterior paint colors, use our process below and be sure to consider these other things too:
Do you have brick or stone on the front of your house? Or maybe cedar shutters around the windows?
Be sure to compare your paint chips in Step 2 to these items when selecting a color that will match your home’s elements that can’t be changed.
When it comes to trim, I love the look of high-contrast so I always encourage people to select a light or dark color (opposite of the main color) to complement.
Oh, and be sure to paint your garage doors the same color as the main house – it’s supposed to blend in with the house! 😉
6 Steps to Picking the Perfect Paint Color
1. Start with Inspiration
Begin by looking for pictures of spaces with paint colors that inspire you.
Peruse Pinterest and find one you love to use as a starting point.
If you can, find out the name of the paint color – whether that’s by visiting a blog, emailing an owner, etc.
For our dining room’s black walls, I pinned more than a few dark walls on Pinterest that I really liked, but this one from Amanda at Our Humble Abode had me swooning:
There was something about how it looked with the white and wood tones that I really liked.
So, I asked her what paint color it was (BM Wrought Iron) and used that as my starting point.
2. Collect Paint Chips
Next, go the paint section of your favorite paint store and grab the paint color you chose as your starting point and then select a few other colors that are similar.
If possible, also collect and group with those the colors of your surrounding walls and trim.
For our dining room, I started by getting the BM Wrought Iron paint chip and then looking through and finding other similar colors that were almost the same but with just a slight variation.
Also, because I was at Home Depot where we typically get all of our paint, I grabbed the chips for our trim and greige wall colors too so I can see each of the blacks next to them.
3. Buy Paint Samples
Bring the paint chips home and lay them next to the items in your space – this could be a rug, furniture, flooring, etc.
Use those items to help you identify your top 5 (or less) contenders.
Then, go back to the hardware store and get samples of each of your final contenders.
I’d recommend getting your samples in the sheen you’re planning to paint (if possible) so you can see how that sheen looks in your space.
If you’re not sure what sheen to get for your project, you can download my Paint Sheen Quick-Reference Guide and it’ll help you know just what sheen is best so you can get it right the first time!
When selecting the black paint for our dining room, I brought our paint chips home and compared them to the rug, flooring and window seat upholstery.
After choosing my top 5, I went back and bought samples of each of them.
Because I love the look of black without any shine, I chose to get a flat sheen for this paint.
4. Paint Samples on EVERY Wall
The next step is the most important one of all!
Paint a small square of each sample on every wall in your space that you plan to paint.
The same paint can look completely different in the same room depending on how the light hits it, so it’s really important to make sure you like the paint color you’re choosing from every angle.
Here’s how ours looked after I’d painted my samples on the walls:
I usually label the paints on one wall and then do the same grid throughout the other walls so you know which paint is which.
Again, DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
5. Paint a Larger Sample of Your Favorite
After reviewing the samples for a few days, feeling them out in different light levels and against the decor in your space, pick what you think to be your favorite and paint a larger section of the walls using the rest of your sample paint.
I decided to go with Little Black Dress by Behr for our dining room because, while it’s definitely black, it was the only one with a blue undertone, which I felt was really important given the coloring of the rug.
My only concern with that blue undertone was that it would actually look navy up against my black door (which I’m thinking I may paint a bright, fun color now) and the wrought-iron corbels under my entry shelf.
So, just to double check we liked it before buying the paint, we painted a few larger sections on the entry wall to make sure it didn’t end up looking navy.
Once you’re confident you like the color, go for it!
Grab a gallon or two (depending on the size of your project) and get to painting!
The best thing about paint is it can easily be redone if you truly hate the outcome.
But in my experience, if you use this method, you’re almost guaranteed to like the paint you pick!
Here’s how the black paint looked in our dining room/entry makeover:
You can see this entire dining room makeover project here.
Overall, picking paint colors doesn’t have to be hard.
While there are a lot of colors to choose from, there likely aren’t very many that will match everything in your space, be cohesive with the rest of your home, and look like you want.
So follow our simple process and you’ll be painting in no time! 🙂
As always, let me know if you have any questions.