Residential architects who specialize in the hot, humid, southern climate

Help! How do I choose the right paint color?

master bedroom in blue and gray

Painting a room is the cheapest and easiest way to update a space. The most difficult part of the process may be deciding on the color. The options seem to be endless and can be overwhelming. For success in choosing the best color follow these seven steps.

1.       Don’t pick the color first. The paint color should be determined by the furnishings in the room. A large piece of art, an oriental rug or a fantastic fabric should be the inspiration for the wall color. Choose a color in the inspiration item that will highlight the piece. The goal is to create a visually harmonious space. The eye blends colors so the color does not need to match exactly but it should coordinate pleasantly.

2.       Think about the 60 -30-10 rule when choosing the wall color. One color should be sixty percent of the room. This is often the walls and rug. Thirty percent is the secondary color and ten percent is an accent color. These colors can be drawn from the inspiration item. Don’t forget to consider all the finishes in the room including the wood in floors and furniture and metals in light fixtures. Rooms with large windows have the landscape as an additional color.

3.       Use the paint manufacturer’s paint fan deck to narrow down the shade options. Often it is difficult to determine the undertones of lighter colors. Look at the darkest color on the strip to see the undertone color.

4.       Get single color paint chips to compare with the inspiration item. The hues look different when they are not next to the colors in the fan deck. Also remember that a bright color on a small chip will be intensified as it gets larger.

5.       Paint one or more test colors on large test boards to view in the room. The advantage of test boards is that you can view them on all the walls and one at the time. The quality of the natural light will affect how the paint is perceived. Live with the test samples at least twenty-four hours to see how the paint looks at different times of the day. Warm colors are often used for rooms facing north and cool colors in rooms facing south or west.

6.       Remember the ceiling, it does not have to be the standard ceiling white. Painting the ceiling 50% lighter than the wall color is a good rule of thumb.

7.       Finally, do not approach color in a vacuum. Consider the progression through the house and make sure the color changes are coherent.