18 October 2010

PIY Pointers: Tips for Choosing Paint Colours

Good morning friends - how was your weekend?  I'm almost done two projects so I hope to have pics to show you soon.  In the meantime, let's talk paint.

Ahh...picking paint colours!  So daunting and exciting at the same time.  At first I wasn't sure how to approach your question on how to choose paint colours.  Everyone has their own way and colour choice is highly personal.  But I thought it was worth sharing some of the ways that I choose colours.  So read on for my paint colour selection tips and hopefully they will help you out the next time you are looking for that perfect colour!

Collect paint colour chips.  Everytime I'm at the hardware store, I browse the chips and grab a couple that I like.  I keep them all in a big ziploc bag, so I can pull them out whenever I'm thinking of painting.  It gives me a palette of reference to start from.

Stick with what you love. I have a general palette that I love (mostly blues, greens and greys with some pops of yellow and coral).  I don't often veer from it and when I do, I always regret it.  If you've never loved orange, don't take a chance just because it's in fashion.  Pick colours you love and you'll always be happy with the results.

Do a magazine match.  I'm often inspired by pictures in magazines.  It's easier to imagine what the colour will look like when it's painted on a wall or on a piece of furniture in a photo than from a chip.  So I take the magazine to the paint store and find the chip that best matches.  You can even colour match if you can't find a close enough colour. There's a new iphone app from Benjamin Moore that allows you to take a photo of something and they'll match the colour to their paint palette.  Genius!

I also do chip comparisons to my existing walls, it helps me see if something is too green or has too many red undertones.  Again, it's all about using a point of reference that you're used to.

Bring it home. I rarely buy paint after choosing a chip in the store.  The lighting really affects the colouring so bring a family of chips home in the same colour and look at them in your desired space, sunlight, etc.  What you preferred in the store is not always the case once you look at them at home.

Think about where the colour will live.  If you have a neutral room and are doing a small side table, now's your big chance to do a pop of bright colour.  Want something that will blend and be able to move from room to room - go with a more neutral white or lighter shade.  I always ask my clients to tell me about where the furniture piece will live and how they want to feel when they look at it.  Painting a room in your house?  Think about how you want to feel - warm and cozy reds and browns, calming pale blues, bold and cheerful lime green.  Also keep in mind how much light you get, darker colours will make the room seem smaller and lighter shades will brighten it up.  Finally, go with your instinct.  Paint is personal and colour is all about how you feel when you look at it.

My final tip is to buy less and get more if you need to.  Especially if you're unsure about the colour.  If you're doing a piece of furniture, a tester size if often enough.  For a wall, go for a quart and see how you love it.  If you don't like it, you can try retinting - most stores will adjust for free (add black to tone it down and neutralize a bright colour or white to lighten it up).  Just talk to them about it.

And remember that it's just paint...I've done a ton of repainting due to bad colour choices and a $10 or $20 mistake is better than a lifetime of slightly hating the colour of that dresser.

Hope this helps you next time you're staring at the wall of paint colours.  Good luck!


  1. I am always having the hardest time choosing the colour...I ofern chance my mind a few times..hahah..Totally great post! Thanks,sweetie
    Have a great Monday

  2. What a great idea to keep those paint chips on hand! I love to look at paint colors~

  3. these were good to read, but I'm totally hopeless...i can't envision things so Mark has to pick out the colors and I always love it:) (I once ended up with a red and orange bathroom. it was supposed to match a new shower curtain but that did not happen! it did match target and home depot though)

  4. great tips lady!

    I, like you have settled into a few shades...and stick with them.....
    ...but love to hear how other choose....



Thanks so much for stopping by, I love reading all your comments! If you have a specific question, please email me at lhume1@mts.net. XO Lenore