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Primer: Choosing the Right Paint Color

You guys are definitely not shy about adorning your walls with lots of color, but choosing the right shade can be nerve-wracking to say the least. So I've put together a Primer to help you ponder all those paint chips.

  • First, make sure your room is ready. A paint color can really set the mood for a room, but to get it just right, you should have the rest of your decorating scheme set, including upholstery patterns, window treatments, rugs and bold accents.
  • Pick a palette. Before heading to the store, determine a family of colors you want to work with, based on the look of the room and your personal tastes. Particularly with bolder looks, a paint shade doesn't have to match your decor perfectly. Lowe's suggests looking in your closet for a reminder of the colors you gravitate toward.

For lots of other handy pointers,

  • Stock up on paint chips. Before you even think about buying paint, take home a selection of paint chips that fit into your pre-determined palette. Be sure to take a few samples of any decor — such as fabric scraps — that you want to match Also, Real Simple recommends Glidden Paint's peel-and-stick color chips, which work like Post-its.
  • Try on your favorite shades. Once you've narrowed it down to a color or two, buy a quart of your chosen paint and slather it on a large piece of scrap material, such as a piece of cardboard or foam board, a couple feet wide and a couple of feet tall. Prop it up or hang it in the room, and leave it for a few days to see how it looks as the light (and your mood) changes.
  • Visualize your room virtually. A number of paint brands and retail stores now let you upload photos of your room so you can see how different shades will look on the walls. Behr ColorSmart, for instance, lets you upload a photo and "paint" with unlimited colors for just $4.95 .

Got any other paint-picking tips to share? Tell me in the comments below.


Join The Conversation
Linzylu411 Linzylu411 9 years
LilPeaPod ~ is a GREAT site!! I love it. I haven't used it to figure out wall paint colors, but I have used it to figure out a color scheme for my upcoming wedding. Great idea!
Ejmcmis Ejmcmis 9 years
super great ideas. THANKS!!!
Mino Mino 9 years
Exelent tip I will try it out right now!!!! :)
Lianna Lianna 9 years
good tip glam sugar!
ElleJay ElleJay 9 years
I just got done painting my new house reds, golds, browns, light yellows and light blues- i spent a lot of time at the behr website. whew.. lots of work but it's going to look awesome when everythings all moved in.
demonkitty18 demonkitty18 9 years
thanks you guys-great tips!
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years is an awesome site to help you choose a palette! I use it a lot even when trying to get inspired when I'm painting for accent artwork too.
koolbr33z3 koolbr33z3 9 years
Don't forget to take into account what kind of lighting is going to be in the room because there will be differences if your room is going to be lit by flourescent, natural light, halogen lighting, etc. I believe that Lowes and Home Depot have an area where you can see how your color will look in different lighting conditions so be sure to check that out.
redegg redegg 9 years
Here's my two or three cents: Also, pay attention to finish. Flat finishes give off more muted hues of the color you select while painting it in a glossier finish will make it crisper and deeper. Warm colors advance, cool colors recede. Dark deep colors usually look better in smaller more confined spaces, i.e. a library or bathroom, while light shades look great in any space, but esp huge spaces, i.e. an enormous loft because they reflect the light. If you do use a dark color in a confined space, if you do a sheen to it like pearl or semi-gloss, then it will keep the space from closing in and will also reflect light. It will seem like the inside of a lacquered box and is very chic.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Awww wish I could paint my place...but it's a renter and not allowed :(
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I can usually visualize what a room will look like but when I'm have a difficult time deciding, I take digital pics of the room and the paint swatches. Then I go into Photoshop and outline the areas that would be painted, make new layers, fill the wall selection with the paint colors and set the transparency so shadows show through. Then I can turn layers on and off, revealing the different paint colors. This gives you a really good idea of how the room will look.
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