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How to Choose the Right Paint Color

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Moving into a new home is such an exciting time, but there are also some parts of the process that can easily throw you and your family into a stressed-out tizzy … like choosing paint colors for your new abode. Which is why it’s critical to know how to choose the right paint color.

Why choosing the right paint color matters

Once you finally get the keys to the new casa, the first task we each usually have the urge to do is paint.

how to choose the right paint color

And we want to get it done quickly because we feel like once the painting is done, that’s the point at which we can really begin unpacking and decorating our new space.

But we’ve all made this classic decorating mistake — and some of us have done it more than once (like me!): We find a paint color we think we love that we spotted online or as we were cruising hurriedly down the aisles of the local home improvement store.

But then we get it home and start painting only to discover that the color isn’t what we expected.

Cue disappointment, maybe a slew of expletives, and definitely a glass of wine.

Well, after choosing the wrong paint color for a room not one or two but three times, I’ve put together a few tips to keep you from making the same mistakes.

How to choose the right paint color (the easy way)

Tip 1: Go see your selected paint color in person.

This may sound obvious, but when you’re in a hurry to get things done and have kids in tow, it feels so much easier to go pick out a paint color online and then send your partner to the store to pick it up.

I’ve done this a handful of times, and each time I was sorry that I didn’t take the time to go and see the paint swatch in person.

The colors on our computer screens and phones vary, so it’s nearly impossible to view a paint color online and know exactly how that’s going to transfer to your walls.

So for that reason, I strongly recommend you go and see the paint swatch in person if you’re able.

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Beyond that challenge, there are so many more reasons to make the effort to go see your paint selection in person.

Tip #2: Take a piece of upholstery from your room (or a piece of art, or something else you plan on using in the space) with you to the paint store.

Any good designer will tell you that you should never choose a paint color first without having your decor in mind for a given room.

It’s true.

Don’t choose paint first.

I repeat: Don’t choose paint first.

Instead, take some kind of textile from your new space — maybe that’s a fabric swatch of the curtains you’ve just ordered or a patterned pillow cover — and hold it up to the paint swatches in the store.

Trust me: You don’t want to just walk in without some kind of fabric and hope you remember exactly what shade of blue is in your pillows and your area rug.

That rarely ends well.

Tip #3: Make sure to view the paint swatch in natural light.

Those fluorescent lights at your local hardware store?

Yeah, they’re not the same as the lighting that’s in your home.

Besides, there is often zero natural light in home improvement shops, so you should always take the paint swatch you think you like outside the store and look at it in natural light.

Even if you’re just walking out the front door for five minutes to see what that paint looks like on a sunny day, this is important because the paint color is going to look different depending on your light sources.

And, well, you don’t live at The Home Depot, so there’s that.

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Tip #4: Take note of your paint color’s physical place in the paint store display, and note the nearby colors.

If you’ve done steps one through three and still aren’t sure that you’re making the right paint choice, here’s what I think is the most helpful hint of all: Look where your paint swatch is placed in the store’s display and look directly to all sides of it.

What colors are on the left, and the right? Above it? Below?

Many times these neighboring swatches will give you a good indication of the undertones of your particular paint choice.

For example, if you’re looking for a gray paint and it’s right next to a set of blue swatches, chances are high that the particular gray you’ve chosen has some blue undertones.

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If you want to read more about undertones and how they can often make or break your paint choice, here’s a good article to dig into.

Tip #4: Buy a paint sample and paint a small section on each of the walls in your room.

The only way to know for sure if a certain color of paint will look great in a room is to take home and paint sample and test it for yourself.

That’s because different lighting conditions — and even the other finishes you already have in the space, like your floors — all impact what a paint color will truly look like.

So buy a sample (or ten) and paint a small section of each of the four walls of your room with it to make sure you’ll be happy.

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Choosing the right paint color (with no regrets!)

What do you think? Were these tips helpful?

I promise you that this is a simple process that will help you choose the right paint color … the first time around.

And have you ever kicked yourself for choosing the wrong paint color? I know I have.

If so, what did you do differently the next time around?

Tell me in the comments!

how to pick the perfect paint colors for your home

Not sure how to choose the right paint color for your home_ These foolproof paint-picking tips have you covered! #homedecor #paint #paintproject
If you're wondering how to choose the right paint color, then you've gotta read these amazing tips on choosing a paint color! #homedecor #paint #paintproject

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Bethany Crisp

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Such a helpful post Kate! Can't tell you how many times I have gotten paint home and thought, "what was I thinking?!?" Great tips!


Tuesday 20th of June 2017

I hear you -- we have all been in that boat at one point or another! So glad you found the post helpful. :)

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