How Do You Choose an Interior Paint Color?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:58 PM ET
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Interior paint colors define every aspect of a house, from the energy in each room to what furniture looks good where. Moreover, it takes time to do it right, so you want to be happy with the results the first time around. Here are five tips for choosing an interior paint color to create the ambiance you're looking for.

Picking a Tone

Choosing a tone — a set of related colors — for your room is a good place to begin. Neutral shades like gray and tan can make a room feel calm yet sophisticated, whereas more intense colors such as yellow or Kelly green have a more enlivening effect. If you go with a neutral hue (for instance, a soft beige in your den), you can add a pop of color by painting one wall a brighter accent shade.

Mix and Match

Contrasting colors can give a room style and a sense of unity without being boring. Remember, however, that's you'll want your furniture to match, whether you're keeping the old stuff or buying new items to accommodate the paint. A color chart can help you pair paint and furniture together so that they compliment each other without matching.

View the Color in Natural Light

When you're selecting interior wall paint colors, pick out several paint swatches first and view them near a window in natural light. A color that seemed perfect in the store can look much different when it's applied to the walls of your sunny den or home office. It's also helpful to view paint chips on a white surface to more clearly see the color's tonal value.

Trial Sizes

Rather than lugging home cans of paint only to discover that the shade you selected doesn't quite work, select a few paint chips — strips of paper featuring similar colors that you can get in the paint aisle of most hardware stores — and purchase trial-sized bottles based on what you like. You may not know if a color is right until you apply it to your wall, but trial bottles make it easy to test a variety of colors before committing to a large quantity of paint.


Apply Several Colors

Once you've picked out a few trial colors, apply them to your wall and see how they look at different times of the day. Perhaps the pale gray color you selected seems a bit too dark at night, or maybe the teal blue shade needs more intensity. Through this trial-and-error process, you can get the best results possible to enrich the look of your home.