Choosing Colors For Your Home
How to choose colors without having a nervous breakdown!
by Jan Riley
I get a lot of questions about choosing the right paint color.
In fact I have noticed that color matters to virtually everyone!
For many folks this is a stressful and disappointing process of
elimination. You can easily end up with a basement full of quarts
or walls that are not quite the right color.
The scars of a color malfunction can follow you around for years!
Don't give up -Help is on the way.
Let me start by stating "There is NO perfect Paint color for every
room" What works in your best friend's living room may not look
great in your den. Three factors greatly contribute being able to
successfully choose colors for your home.
Learn to use them and get the color you crave without having a
- Surrounding colors
- How you respond to it in your space.
Choosing one color for your room is hard because every time you
look at it -it changes. Color is relative, which means it is affected
by everything around it: light or lack of it and the surrounding
colors (fabrics, flooring, trim, furniture etc.) and perhaps most
importantly - how you feel about it.
Examine the light!
This is probably the hardest aspect in choosing the right shade
or color. What type of light, how much and the time of day all play
a large part in how you see the color in your space. Test your colors
in a variety of situations and at different times of the day.
Try this exercise: Get a manila envelop and tape it to a wall that
gets direct sunlight - notice how it appears golden and yellow.
Now tape it up in a dark corner, walk around the room and view it
from different angles, all of the sudden it looks tan, dirty and
rather lifeless. This is because shadows tend to absorb color -especially
in a flat paint. In a low light room, choose a brighter version
of the color you are initially drawn to.
To add life to a neutral color, use an eggshell sheen - it reveals
the color and reflects the light.
Color looks different depending on whatever colors are next to
it. No you are not hallucinating, it really does! Your eyes literally
perceive the color differently. No wonder it's hard to visualize
how a tiny scrap of color will look on a big wall.
Color changes with the light and with the other colors in your
home. Color areas like the ceiling, carpet, flooring, furniture
and fabrics can make a huge difference when the paint goes on.
Understanding Your Response To Color
You want color to make you feel a certain way. If it doesn't, trying
to figure out what to do next is mystifying and extremely frustrating.
That's how you can choose a color that feels like soothing warm
butter in the store but you end up with scary lemon drop on your
walls, The problem may be not in the color; but how you respond
to it in your space with your light.
Most likely you are responding to the effect that color is creating
with your stuff rather that the specific shade itself. What effect
are you trying to create?
Answer theses 3 questions before you look at colors- trust me
it will help. (The answers will sound like you are describing feelings)
The first thing to do is to get clear on your answers to these questions.
Then you can evaluate whether the colors you are considering will
help you achieve the effect you want.
- What effect are you trying to achieve in this space?
- How do you want this room to feel when you walk in?
- What do you want the color to say to you?
Give your self time. Don't rush your decision! This is the main
reason most people end up with a color to kill themselves over rather
than a color to die for. Seriously, if you have trouble choosing
colors give yourself time to see how you feel about the colors you
think you like.
Allow time to get samples, many if necessary, and live with them
a few days, so you have an idea of what they look like in differing
lights and weather conditions. Look at them with your stuff.
Rushing this part of the process is where most folks get the worst
results. Remember: It takes less time to paint a sample than it
does to repaint the entire room.
Go for effect not specific color. When I mention this to my clients
they often give me a puzzled look and ask me "but what color should
I choose?" The reason this concept is so important is because color
looks different in every space and with different light. Decorating
depends more on creating an effect that finding the perfect shade
of blue. To successfully create an effect, focus on how you want
to use the room and how you want it to feel when you're there.
Always test your paint colors in all types of light - bright, corner,
filtered, day & evening. Give yourself a few days to live with
the samples and see how you respond to them before you make the
final decision. Now many national paint companies sell 4oz paint
samples which is plenty to do a large swatch on the wall.
Don't worry if you can't choose the perfect color the first time
- just examine the results and try again. Life is too short for
boring walls! Tips:
- Start small, use 2oz.acrylic craft paints to test a lot of colors,
or shades of a single color. Then get your shade color matched
into regular wall paint.
- Check the shade. If a color seems too bright, try one that has
more gray in it. If it fades out go towards a stronger color in
- Color too dark? Try it in a satin finish or better yet, a color
wash - this can give you the richness of color with out the dark
- Test first. Paint is cheap....sanity isn't!
- Make a cheat sheet. Gather samples of existing paints, fabrics,
use magazine photos for samples of your furniture and wood colors
and staple them to one sheet of paper. Take it with you when you
go to pick out colors.
Next: Planning Your
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Design Index | Getting
Ideas | Home Plan Designs |
Choosing a Designer | Design Brief
| 3 Stages of Design | First
Meeting | Choosing Colors
| Interior Design | Choosing
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