5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Paint Color

Goooooood morning!! OK, so today’s post is one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now and it’s all about how to choose the perfect paint color for your home. I actually really wanted to write about this topic after our painting fiasco back in February because I realized that I learned some valuable lessons throughout that ordeal. (If you missed the crazy story you can read about it in this post, but the gist of it is that we had our house painted twice in one week. It was an interesting experience to say the least!) One of the things I learned is that choosing the perfect paint color is actually much harder than I realized. If you were following along back then, you might remember that I was such an indecisive mess when it came time to choose the final color for our home. We decided to hire painters to help us, and I think that put a lot of extra pressure on me to get the color right.  I kept going back and forth, second guessing my decisions, and just nervous that I’d make the wrong choice. Looking back now, I realize that I made it a lot harder on myself than it needed to be because I was making a few mistakes that just confused me even further. Today I want to help you avoid making the same mistakes, so I’ve come up with five tips to choose the perfect paint color for your home!

1. Search Pinterest for photos of the paint color your want to use!

So in my opinion, the first step in choosing any paint color for your home is to search for real life examples on Pinterest. Thanks to the power of technology these days, you can literally look at hundreds of photos of just about any paint color scheme you could imagine. Search for things like “the best white paint colors,” and you’ll be amazed at all the information that comes up. Once you have a few special colors in mind, narrow your search even further by looking for the exact paint you’d like to use. For instance, just by searching Pinterest for,Alabaster by Sherwin Williams,” you’ll find thousands of photos of that paint color in living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, etc. Doing this will begin to give you a good idea of what that color might look like in your home. That’s the starting point!

2Strategically paint large sample areas

Once you have a few colors in mind that might work, go get samples and start painting. This is obvious, right? But the important step here is to strategically paint large samples on your walls next to permanent fixtures in your home. For example, don’t just randomly paint a large swatch in the middle of a wall. Instead paint it next to the trim and any doors in the room so you can see how that new paint color plays with the color of your trim/door. This is SO important and it’s a mistake I’ve been making for years. But painting next to permanent fixtures that aren’t changing, like a fireplace or built in bookcase, will dramatically change how a color looks and feels in any space. (Also be sure to paint two coats of your paint samples, especially if you’re putting a light color over a dark color!) Here’s an exampleI painted this large sample swatch next to our fireplace and wainscoting in our entryway to see how it would look with those things that I knew wouldn’t change. That helps me way more than painting a random stripe in the middle of the wall.

5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Paint Color

3. Paint samples away from each other

Ok, this is another mistake I’ve made for a while and it wasn’t until we got a second chance at painting our living room and front room that I finally figured out that you shouldn’t put paint samples right next to each other. It seems like a no-brainer, but so many of us do it! Instead paint your samples away from each other so the colors don’t compete or throw each other off. Lining up three different paint colors on the wall right next to each other isn’t going to help you pick a colorit will probably only confuse you even more because the colors will inevitably look different compared to what shades they’re painted next to. Instead, space out the samples throughout the room (next to permanent fixtures) and look at them separately so you can see the color by itself. In the photo below I was making this mistakeI painted two samples right next to each other, which only left me more confused on how the colors would really look on their own. If I had spaced them away from each other I would have had a much better idea of how the color actually looks in our home.

5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Paint Color

4. Leave the paint samples up for at least three days

So if you’re really impatient like me this might be tough for you, but I highly recommend leaving your paint samples on the walls for at least three days. Once you have all the potential colors on the walls, it’s important to let them sit for a while so you can see how they look in different lighting. I know this seems obvious, but you definitely want to make sure you love how that paint color looks at night, on a sunny afternoon, cloudy morning, etc. Don’t rush it. I repeat, don’t rush it. Just take your time and live with the paint color for a bit before you jump into a decision.

5. Don’t forget your floors!

One of the biggest lessons I learned in our painting debacle was to not overlook the importance of your floors when choosing a paint color. For example, our hardwood floors have a very strong golden yellow color to them. I honestly didn’t even consider how that would impact the way our paint colors looked until it was too late and our entire house was covered in gray paint that looked periwinkle next to our golden hardwood floors. It was a HUGE mistake and something that I think many of us overlook. So make sure you consider how the color of your floors will impact the color on your walls. In addition to painting samples at eye level, be sure to do a few lower next to the floor or baseboard so you can see how the carpet, tile, or hardwood interacts with the color. (It was actually our golden yellow floors that made me realize any shade of gray would probably look wrong in our home and one of the main reasons I went with white paint.)

5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Paint Color

Well I really hope these tips help you confidently choose the perfect paint color for your home. Like I said, I’ve had to learn these lessons the hard way and I went through a lot of unneeded stress because I was making simple mistakes that were confusing me even more. And as you know, there are literally a zillion different shades of the same color, so choosing the one that is right for you can feel like an overwhelming process. Sure it’s just paint, but who wants to repaint their living room because you got the color wrong?! Not this girl. My suggestion is to do all you can before making a final decision to ensure you got the right one. One last tidbit I’d like to add is to trust your gut! Follow your heart and don’t question the vision you have for your home because at the end of the day you have to be happy with it. That’s all that matters anyway!

Here’s a few other posts you might like: 

The Best Neutral Paint Colors

What to Know Before Painting Your Walls White

How to Paint an Interior Door Black

PIN FOR LATER: How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color 

How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color. 5 tips that make it easy!

Leave a Comment

24 Comments

  1. Juli wrote:

    I love the chandelier over your table – where was that purchased? thx!

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  2. Rachel wrote:

    Thank you for the great tips!! I will be choosing paint for our new home soon, and will have to keep these in mind!!

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Good luck with your decision Rachel!!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  3. Jennifer wrote:

    Great tips! What color did you end up choosing? It looks beautiful 😍

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Jennifer, it’s Alabaster by Sherwin Williams!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Thanks Jennifer! It’s Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. I absolutely LOVE it.

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  4. Jean wrote:

    I find it so much easier to apply paint to the total area of large sheets of white tag board when previewing paint colors. They can then be moved and taped all around the room to catch the lighting at different times of the day and night.

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      That’s a really great idea too Jean!!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  5. Glenda Phillips wrote:

    I forgot whete you got your small potted plants, you have them in small pots,around your house.

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Those are from Michael’s! I just painted them white.

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  6. Leigh Manis wrote:

    Although the entire post was AWESOME, the take away that helps me the most is that others also second guess themselves and are afraid of making a bad decision! I feel as though I know what I want when I go into to decorate a room. I pin all my favorites for the ‘vision’ I have, research price and reviews on new furniture etc. But when I actually go to the paint store I almost freeze! Thank you for sharing your honesty. We are smart, capable women with just so many choices! Love it!

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Oh you are definitely not alone Leigh! It really is SO hard to choose the right color for your home and it really depends on so many different things. What looks good in my home might not look so great in yours–it depends on all kinds of different factors. But I’m right there with you in the struggle!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  7. Victoria wrote:

    Thank you for the great information. I too have been painting my samples next to each other and not in different places around the room. I’m currentlytrying to choose a color for our den that is very outdated paneling. We would love to replace it with drywall but it’s not in the budget this year. We also have an ugly brick fireplace I’ll be painting. I noticed your fireplace looked awesome! Did you paint it Alabaster too? What about your mantle? Did you make it or purchase it somewhere? It turned out great! I’m so intimidated by painting a large room such a light color. I was thinking about using SW Versatile Gray lightened 50%.

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      Hi Victoria! I did paint that fireplace. You can see my tutorial in this post: https://sarahjoyblog.com/farmhouse-style-fireplace-mantel-makeover/ It was much easier than I thought it would be and it’s help up really well! And don’t be intimidated by painting a large room a light color–I am 1000% happy with my choice to do Alabaster. It’s been such an awesome change!!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  8. Vicki wrote:

    Excellent tips! Years ago, before I had as much painting experience, I painted my living room three different shades of green before I got it right. So glad they started making sample pots of paint available. I recently tried a sample of a tan shade for my son’s room, paintIng a wide swath around a doorway, and could quickly tell that it had a bit of a pinkish cast. When I tried a different sample on the other side of the door, it had the more golden undertone I was wanting. I also painted near his wood furniture, because, like you found with your floors, stained woods can have warm or cool undertones as well, and the paint needs to complement it. Another tip I would to add is to look at other items in your home that you love for color inspiration to help make your decision. This can be things like slipcovers, towels, bedding, throw pillows, curtain fabric, or artwork. I use a lot of color and prints in my home, and I’ve found it to be whole lot easier to get paint to match or coordinate with a fabric you want to use, instead of painting walls first and then trying to find fabric items to go with it.

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      That’s a great tip Vicki!! So glad you mentioned that because that because it’s so important to think about how the paint color will compliment or clash with other colors in your home like decor and furnishing. SO important!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  9. Susan wrote:

    I love all your tips and I’m so happy I found your site. I’m always looking forward to the next one. I was wondering about the large mirror on your wall, did you paint the frame? I have a large mirror with the very outdated gold trim and I want to refinish it but I’m a little afraid because I don’t know what paint to use. Can you use the Chalk Paint? Do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks for all the inspiration.

    Posted 3.26.18 Reply
    • Sarah wrote:

      I didn’t paint that mirror, but you could totally paint yours! It would be SO easy. I’d suggest using the Rust-Oleum chalked paint, it’s super easy to use and very affordable. It would probably take two coats to get a full coverage look and you shouldn’t need to prep it with anything–just start painting. Good luck Susan!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  10. Stephanie wrote:

    Guilty! I painted about 10 strips of blue above our headboard next to each other, made the choice with family help, and had it painted. It’s so wrong! I have to have it done again and am paralyzed about getting it wrong again! Thanks for your tips!

    Posted 3.27.18 Reply
  11. I’ve been wanting to paint my room a new color for several years, but I just haven’t been able to choose a color. I loved the tip to paint samples away from each other, as they will make each other look different than they would as a whole room. I’ve also heard that the psychology of colors can really help give off a mood in the room too. Do you know where I could learn more about that as well?

    Posted 6.7.18 Reply
  12. I like how you said to start strategically painting large sample areas. I have been debating between which color to paint my living room, so maybe I will try multiple color options. Thanks for the tips on choosing the perfect paint color.

    Posted 8.24.18 Reply
  13. I really appreciate your tip to follow your heart when it comes to choosing a paint color. My wife and I have been thinking of painting our kid’s rooms, and I know that my wife has been stressing over the paint color. I will be sure to tell her that no matter what she chooses, it will look great.

    Posted 10.29.18 Reply

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