Primer: Choosing the Right Paint Color

You guys are definitely not shy about adorning your walls with lots of color, but choosing the right shade can be nerve-wracking to say the least. So I've put together a Primer to help you ponder all those paint chips.


  • First, make sure your room is ready. A paint color can really set the mood for a room, but to get it just right, you should have the rest of your decorating scheme set, including upholstery patterns, window treatments, rugs and bold accents.
  • Pick a palette. Before heading to the store, determine a family of colors you want to work with, based on the look of the room and your personal tastes. Particularly with bolder looks, a paint shade doesn't have to match your decor perfectly. Lowe's suggests looking in your closet for a reminder of the colors you gravitate toward.

For lots of other handy pointers, read more

  • Stock up on paint chips. Before you even think about buying paint, take home a selection of paint chips that fit into your pre-determined palette. Be sure to take a few samples of any decor — such as fabric scraps — that you want to match Also, Real Simple recommends Glidden Paint's peel-and-stick color chips, which work like Post-its.
  • Try on your favorite shades. Once you've narrowed it down to a color or two, buy a quart of your chosen paint and slather it on a large piece of scrap material, such as a piece of cardboard or foam board, a couple feet wide and a couple of feet tall. Prop it up or hang it in the room, and leave it for a few days to see how it looks as the light (and your mood) changes.
  • Visualize your room virtually. A number of paint brands and retail stores now let you upload photos of your room so you can see how different shades will look on the walls. Behr ColorSmart, for instance, lets you upload a photo and "paint" with unlimited colors for just $4.95 .

Got any other paint-picking tips to share? Tell me in the comments below.

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