Putting a new paint colour on the walls is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to transform a room. But where do you start if you haven’t already picked out a colour? An interior designer or colour consultant can help you hone in on the general colour you want, such as yellow, gray, white or green. A pro can also advise you on the specific paint colour to choose.
But before you commit, it’s worth considering which colours you truly love. Here are some practical suggestions that will have you feeling more colour-confident in no time.
Visit Your Closet
Whatever you do, don’t just head straight to the paint store to browse through the paint chips, or you risk being majorly overwhelmed. Of course, if you’ve already done this, you’re not alone. Before you go to the paint store, you really want to narrow down the colours. Even before you pick up the swatches.
But how do you narrow down a colour in the first place? Examine your wardrobe. Look in your closet and see what colours you wear often. You are going to gravitate toward certain colours that look good on you. What better way to look great in the interior than if you paint what you look great in?
Browsing your wardrobe can also help you come up with ideas for accent colours. For instance, if you tend to wear a lot of blue and often pair it with khaki, tan leather shoes and silver jewelry, perhaps those colours could be a theme for your home. You could translate that theme to your living room with blue walls, soft leather furnishings, and gray or silver for other accents like the rug and toss pillows.
Unearth Your Happy Memories
What colour was your room growing up?. What colour makes you the happiest?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Maybe your grandmother’s kitchen was yellow, and you have great memories of traveling with her. Maybe you saw this great shade of blue when you were traveling in the Caribbean, and it calms you.
If no colours come to mind from your memories, try getting out a photo book from one of your favorite trips and seeing if any colours speak to you. As you go about your days, visiting restaurants, shops and even other people’s homes, pay attention to which colours you’re most drawn to.
There are no real rules about colour. You really have to know what moves you and not be influenced by what other people like and what other people say.
Envision the Feeling You Want
So you’ve decided to paint your room blue. How do you narrow down which blue? It can be helpful to think about the feeling that you want to create in the room. If you’re seeking a cozier feel, choose a blue on the darker end. If you’re going for a more serene vibe, a lighter, perhaps sea blue may be better.
As you’re drawn to shades of blue, pay attention to whether you prefer blues that tend toward lavender, green or pure hues. Knowing the undertones of the shade you’re selecting is useful for coordinating with trim and accessories. A good designer will be able to identify these undertones and help you select a paint that works with your furnishings.
You’ll also want to keep in mind whether your paint colour should have cool or warm undertones — and again, a designer can be invaluable in helping you identify these subtleties. If you’re starting from a blank slate, a cool gray or a warm gray might suit you equally. But if you already have furniture and accessories in warmer hues, you may want to choose a warmer tone that complements what you already have.
Browse the internet, magazines etc for general colour and style ideas, and tone and value inspiration — meaning light or dark or medium. But keep in mind that the way colours read on your computer screen or mobile device probably won’t be the way they read in your room, where they’ll be affected by the amount of light and even the landscaping that the light is coming through.
If you fall in love with a colour online, go out and select a swatch and bring it home before committing. Even colour chips won’t be exactly how the paint colour will appear, so it’s important that you actually test out the paint on your walls.
Tip: As you’re browsing for inspiration, look for rooms that are similar in size and shape to the one that you’ll be painting; that way, the effect will be more similar.
Narrow Down Your Options: No More Than Four Colours
Once you’ve settled on a general colour, your designer can save you a lot of time by suggesting a few excellent paint colour choices and helping you choose the best option among them. However, if you like to be more involved in the selection process, you might head to the paint store and pick out several chips and bring them home. Then it’s time to winnow them down.
Say you come home with eight shades of blue. Lay all the swatches out and compare them to each other. You will start to see the subtle differences between each colour. Some of the blues lean toward green or aqua. Some are a denim shade. Some have a funky undertone that you just don’t like at all.
Winnow down the options to three or four colours. You can tack the colour chips to the wall of the room you’ll be painting, or use a sheet of paper as a neutral background. Keep in mind as you make your comparisons that the paint chips will appear a bit darker on a light background, and lighter on a dark background. Often, after comparing the paint chips to each other, it will be pretty clear which colour is going to work.
If you still aren’t comfortable with the colour options, you could consider taking away all but one option and looking at each colour individually. As you assess the colours, consider how each option will look with the elements of your room already in place and that you’re not willing to change.
Put Paint Samples Right on the Wall
Once you’ve chosen your three or four final colours, it’s time to test them. It is better to paint the wall than the sample boards the paint store sells. This is not just because it’s more economical. You need to paint at least a 1-by-1-foot square on all four walls, some designers recommend painting an even larger area - at least 3 by 3 feet. Paint on the wall because that’s exactly where it’s going. You’re painting over a previous color.
Place the paint samples side by side on the wall. They should still be lined up because you still need to compare and choose based on the process of elimination. Again, if this is overwhelming for your eye, you could consider looking at them apart.
It’s also important to make sure the sample you purchase has the finish that you’re planning to use - matte, eggshell, satin, high gloss - because that can also change the way a colour reads. Many stores sell the sample-size cans only in the matte finish. You may want to consider buying a full quart to get the true effect.
Look at the samples on the wall at various times of day, and try different types of lighting to see how that may change the colours. Live with the colours for a few days. When a clear winner emerges, you’re ready to paint the walls.