It’s a common problem. We want a quick, easy, and inexpensive update to a room. Go grab a gallon of paint and a few hours later, the results just don’t seem right. Is this the same color as the card?? Something just seems off.
Maybe the paint guy mixed it wrong. Maybe we meant to pick moonlight gray instead of starry sky gray? How can there possibly be that many colors of gray?! And why does it look green???
Passing by the paint department of Lowe’s last week, we saw a lovely couple standing there with about 6 paint cards in their hands. All fanned out were 18 shades of gray and two puzzled homeowners. It was then I realized that they were about to make the same mistake I’ve made a dozen times before… pick their next paint color right there in the store.
You can search Pinterest for the best paint colors for any room, any style. You can hold a dozen of those little paint chips under the fancy light bulb at your local home improvement store and hope for the best. The truth is there is no such thing as “tried and true” paint colors that fit every home, else we would all use them, and you would not be reading this right now.
#1 Paint Mistake
The number one mistake we make when it comes to painting a room is picking the paint color first. The second mistake, is picking that color at the store.
Plan out all other elements of your room first. Your paint color should support those elements. Decide what function and feeling you want from the room. Do you want a relaxing spa-like bathroom or a bright and cheery kitchen with lots of energy? The color you pick can have a huge impact on how you feel in that room.
Once you know the feel and function you want for a room, plan out all other elements first. What is the undertones of your cabinets, furniture, and flooring? Is it red, blue, yellow, white, or brown? Your paint color should support all the other elements in your room.
Stumped for what color to use where? Use our color guide below to help you determine the best color for the atmosphere you want. Warmer colors give the feeling of energy and excitement. Cooler tones offer a calming serene environment.
White is not always white.
All those farmhouse white living rooms are enough to make anyone swoon. And as soon as you get to the paint store, you find yourself standing there bewildered. “What’s the deal? Isn’t white just… white? There are 1 gazillion shades of white here!!”
The key to choosing a white paint color is the light in your room. Analyze the lighting. Does the room get natural light from a south facing window, or little light at all? Our guide shows you how to pick the right color of white for your space.
Other things to consider when deciding to go white in your space, while it can make a room appear cleaner, brighter, and larger, white is also more likely to show imperfections if used as a paint color for walls.
And then there’s neutral.
Beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray and white are all considered neutral colors. Undertones are the biggest challenge when working with neutrals. Gray tends to have blue or green undertones. While beige tends to have pink undertones. If your cabinets are brown with orange or red undertones, then beige is your friend.
Just make sure they work with your fixed elements in the room, like flooring and cabinets. Choose a warm or cool shade depending on your amount and direction of light in the room. We talk about it all here in our color guide!
If all else fails…
Oops! I chose the wrong neutral paint color! Try replacing light bulbs first for a less expensive fix. Bulbs give a warm, cool, or natural light that can often time correct undertones of paint very easily! If your color is too bright, dim the lighting. If your color is to dull and dark, add more lighting.
If you’ve tried living with the new color for a few days and it still isn’t working for you, then it may be time to repaint. Here’s some tips to getting it right whether it’s the first time painting or the seventh.
- Determine the atmosphere you want in the room. Cool colors for airy and calm. Warm colors for cozy and comforting.
- Analyze the undertones of your fixed elements and the lighting in the room.
- Go to the store and grab two handfuls of paint sample cards based on your results from step 1 and 2.
5. Narrow down your choices to just no more than three to four colors. Go back to the store and ask for small samples of paint in those colors.
6. Paint them on your wall. Some like to paint a white foam board and put the boards on the wall. That’s fine if your walls are already white or very light colored. But if you are painting gray over a blue wall, remember it may look very different from a sample on a white foam board. Undertones, my friend. 🙂
Still need help?
Okay so let’s do a case study. Let’s say your kitchen has oak cabinets and hardwood oak flooring, along with windows and doors that let quite a bit of morning light in from the east. Let’s also say you want a neutral color and you don’t plan to repaint or replace the cabinets or flooring any time soon. You need a quick and easy way t change the look of your kitchen by painting the walls. (I just described my kitchen!)
In this case, my suggestion is to use a color of paint with green undertones. That could be an actual shade of green, an off white which is referred to a “dirty” white, or a gray with green undertones. You want to go for a warmer tone in your color as this room will not get much light in the evening.
Remember it’s about learning and experimenting.
Decorating your home and creating your haven is not easy folks. It takes patience, creativity, and sometimes perserverance. But you CAN do it! We are here to help you, so reach out to us! And remember that it’s about learning what works for your home, your family, and your style. Not the color of the year, not those “tried and true” shades we find on Pinterest.
Give yourself time to get it right and room to make a mistake or two. Check out our free guide to help you and comment below your questions or even advice to others!