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Pick the Perfect Paint Color

Paint is the easiest and most affordable way to dramatically change the look of a room. We’ll give you tips and tricks to make an impact in your space.

Use our tips to paint the perfect room.

Pick the Perfect Paint Color

red paint chips

Sample Sizes

Colors in the store often look different at home because of the changes in light. Rather than running the risk of getting a gallon of paint that you don’t like, try a few sample pots. Samples are an inexpensive way of ensuring you’re making a good choice. Purchase three or four colors that you like. Paint a 1-foot by 1-foot square in each color on your wall. Over several days, watch the colors at different times of day, comparing natural sunlight vs. artificial (fluorescent and incandescent) lighting at night. You’ll often find the color that you were convinced was the perfect one in the store won’t be the one you end up selecting.


Don’t Forget the Ceiling

The ceiling is often overlooked, and the idea of painting it can be intimidating. A general rule of thumb is to paint the ceiling three shades lighter than the walls. It will make the walls feel higher. If you’re trying to create a cozy environment, paint the ceiling a darker color.

Saturation Point
If you’re choosing more than one color for a room, try to stay in the same hue, which will make the palette seemed more unified. An easy way to do this is to look at a paint chip with three or four shades of the similar color and work from this palette.

A Pop of Color
If you are painting the walls a light neutral color or a pastel, use ultra-white paint for your trim work and moulding to make the wall color stand out.

Color Clarity

Color Wheel

The color wheel has thousands of colors to choose from, making the selection process daunting for even the most confident of painters. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Paint is generally divided into two groups: bolds and neutrals. Neutrals include pastels, beiges, grays and whites. Bold colors include vibrant reds, greens, pinks, blues, greens and purples.
  • Neutrals are generally considered to be a safer choice because they blend with many different décor styles. If want to change your décor later on, you can often keep the same color.
  • Love peacock blue or fuchsia, but nervous to paint an entire room of it? Try painting one accent wall or a small space like a hallway or a powder room.
  • Light colors can make a small space seem larger. Using a dark paint can help light-colored objects stand out. Repeating a color through several rooms creates a sense of harmony.

An Emotional Response

blue office

Studies have shown that room color can affect moods and emotions. Some can create an overall sense of calm, while others are more high energy. Find out the colors that work best in each area of your home.

  • Red: Restaurants often use this color because it’s known to increase appetite and conversation. It’s a high-energy color so it works best in areas that you socialize in such as living or dining rooms. Avoid red in the bedroom.
  • Orange: This color evokes power and is highly energizing. It’s also known to increase appetite, so consider it for a kitchen or dining room. A little goes a long way -- use orange in moderation.
  • Yellow: Soft yellows are associated with happiness and warmth, but bright ones can increase frustration and anger. You might want to avoid this color in a nursery because babies have been known to cry more often. You can use it in the kitchen because yellow is also an energizing color.
  • Green: Green is a calming, refreshing color and reminds us of nature. Use this color in rooms where you want to relax, such as bedrooms.
  • Blue: If you’re trying to create a serene, spa-like environment, consider blue. Like green, it’s a calming color and is also good for bedrooms. Brighter blues increase productivity -- good for an office.
  • Purple: This is a color that has long been associated with royalty and wealth. Use it in living or dining rooms to pack a luxurious punch. It’s also thought that it stimulates creativity.
  • Brown: Brown is a cozy color and great for living areas where people gather.
  • White: White really helps to brighten up a space and creates a sense of cleanliness.

The Finish Cheat Sheet

green living room

So you’re standing at the paint counter with the perfect color in hand and the store associate asks you what finish you want. You stare at him blankly, having no idea what’s best. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you confidently make your selection: 

  • Flat: This finish is typically used on ceilings, bedrooms and living rooms. It’s also good to use on walls that have a lot of imperfections. Flat finishes are easy to touch up, but hard to clean so avoid using them in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Eggshell: This finish has a low sheen and it’s ideal in bedrooms or living rooms. Eggshell marks easily so avoid high-traffic areas like hallways or mudrooms. It’s easy to touch up.
  • Satin: It has a silky finish and you can scrub it, so it’s good for areas like kitchens, hallways, bathrooms, children’s rooms and family rooms. Touch-ups are more difficult with satin because of the sheen.
  • Semi-gloss: This finish is resistant to humidity so it’s good for kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also good for moulding and woodwork. Semi-gloss is easy to clean, but difficult to touch up.
  • Gloss: This finish will show every imperfection so it’s not really used on walls. Consider gloss for woodwork and moulding. Gloss is easy to clean, but difficult to touch up.

Find Your Perfect Color Palette

Find Your Perfect Color Family


You need to know which type of paint you have before you start your project. Watch our DIY Basics video: Do I Have Oil or Latex Paint?