If you’re thinking of painting a room, consider choosing hues that connect rooms and unify your home. Use a color wheel to understand how colors relate.
Also, keep in mind the color you see on a paint strip will differ from how it appears in your space. So, test the color at different times of day and under different light conditions.
1. Look at the Light
The biggest factor that influences paint colors is the lighting. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to examine large samples in your space’s unique lighting, at all times of day.
For example, a sunny yellow might look bright and happy on a 2-inch paint chip in the store, but once it covers your whole wall, it could be super intense or obnoxious (or both). That’s why it’s important to look at that same color swatch in your space under fluorescent, LED, CFL, and incandescent lighting as well as natural light, sun glare, afternoon gloom, twilight, and so forth.
Also remember that sheen affects color too—glossy finishes reflect light, whereas matte paints hide it. So be sure to pick up a few tester pots and paint some on a big piece of bristol paper or poster board before you make your final decision. This simple step can save you the heartache of spending hours painting and re-painting a room because it turns out that deep navy blue looks black under the harsh lights of your hallway.
2. Look at the Finishes
If you have existing wood detailing, carpeting or other permanent design elements in a room, consider them when choosing paint colors. “You want to make sure your new color coordinates with what you have and doesn’t clash,” says Nash.
It’s also worth examining the existing colors of furniture, pillows or other décor that you want to keep in the space. Then, find a neutral shade that complements these features.
Remember to bring home paint swatches and tape them onto the walls in the space, as well as any other materials you may be painting over. View these colors in natural light at different times of day and over several days to see how they look. You don’t want to commit gallons of paint and hours to a project that you ultimately end up disliking!
3. Take a Look at the Room
When choosing paint colors for your home, be sure to consider the color of permanent elements like wood trim or a fireplace. You may be able to accent these features with a bolder hue, but it’s important to choose a shade that will work well with the rest of your decor and furniture, says Woelfel.
You can use the color wheel as a guide to come up with paint ideas. Colors that are close together on the wheel—analogous—work together to create balance in a room, while those that are farther apart—complementary—add drama to a space.
When you’re selecting paint colors, don’t hold the samples right next to each other on a wall because they can clash and compete with one another. Instead, ask the store to mix the shade at half-strength to lighten it if you think it might be too dark. This will help you visualize the shade as it would appear in the room and avoid second-guessing your choice later on.
4. Take a Look at the Colors
When choosing paint colors for your home, it’s important to take the time to really observe and test out each color. You want to see how it looks throughout the day as the light shifts and on cloudy or sunny days. It’s also good to see how the paint color looks at night with only indoor lighting as well.
Sherwin Williams’ online tool, ColorSnap Visualizer, allows you to upload a picture of your furniture and surroundings and then try out different paint colors on your wall before making a commitment. It’s a great way to save time and avoid the “paint wrongs” of buying too much paint and not having enough to cover your entire room.
Whether you want your space to feel energizing or relaxing, bold or muted, warm or cool, there’s a shade for every mood. Use these tips to help you narrow down your options and make your next paint project a success!