1 Pick colors you like.
This seems obvious, but you would be amazed at the number of people who want to choose a color that is “in” at the moment. Just because the Pantone colors of the year are rose quartz and serenity doesn’t mean these have to be YOUR colors! It is likely you will be living with your choices for much more than a year! Look at the stuff you have that delights you and see if there is a common color theme. This picture is from a client's home office - she is totally smitten with all things blue and in this personal space, constellation blue was the perfect wall color for her.
2 Use color to visually change the perceived temperature or mood of the room.
Icy blue tones in a south facing sun-drenched room can make the space actually seem cooler. Conversely, a warm yellow, orange, or red toned hue can make a north facing or dreary space feel sunnier or cozier.
3 Pick paint last after other color selections like fabrics and rugs.
There are infinite colors of paint – if there isn’t a sample chip of a color you like, paint can be custom mixed as well – or even color matched to a physical sample of something that is the color you want. There are more limited choices of fabrics and rugs, so start there and then choose a paint to coordinate.
4 Take into account the more permanent finishes in your room.
Hardwood flooring, stained woodwork or paneling, stone, brick, tile - these all have color tones and your paint choices need to work with them. We were able to totally update this 70's harvest gold bathroom with carefully selected paint applied to the wall in wide stripes.
5 Get a large sample.
Get the largest size sample you can of the paint color under consideration. Buy one of those tester jars if possible and paint a 3’ square of the color – be sure to use an adequate number of coats or you will be seeing the color under it as well. I would also suggest painting it on a piece of wallboard or hardboard instead of the wall so that you can move it around. (See # 8)
6 Beware: Colors may look darker and more intense than expected.
Once there is a whole room full of it , that sweet candy pink may look like a bubblegum factory exploded…unless you were going for dramatic, err on the side of caution especially with clearer, more vibrant colors and dial it back a bit. Choose a color one or two rows up on the chip card. I used to suggest the option of having them half the formula when you have the paint mixed, but that doesn’t just cut the intensity, it totally changes the nuances of the color as well and can have disastrous results. That said, dramatic colors can be terrific in certain spaces and elevate the whole design - just be sure dramatic is what you were after!
7 Assess your sample with a neutral background.
Your perception of color and the undertones you see changes relative to other colors (remember the white and gold vs. blue and black dress controversy??) Put a white background under your sample to better assess the color without the current background interfering.
8 Check your sample in different lighting and locations.
Look at the paint sample IN the space to be painted and during both daytime hours, when the room is lit with natural light and night time hours when the room is lit with artificial light. Different bulbs affect colors differently and can TOTALLY change the color you see. Also, move your sample around the room - some colors can look very different in shady corners than they do on brightly lit walls. And always hold the sample against the wall in the same orientation as the surface you are going to paint…the color will absolutely look different on the vertical surface of a wall than on the angled surface of a dormer or the horizontal surface of a floor or table.
Paint is one of the easiest ways to freshen and dramatically change the feel of a room. Still not sure what to choose?