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How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Home Interior

Choosing paint colors for your home interior can be a daunting task. Today I'm sharing my easy 4-step process for how to pick paint colors. There are many factors to consider such as lighting, room size, and overall décor. If you are giving your home a fresh coat of paint, check out these tips on how to choose paint colors for your home interior. 

We’ve painted the interior of our homes countless times, and we’ve come to learn how a paint color can impact the overall look and feel of a room. I’ve got our process nailed down to four easy steps and we’re sharing them all with you today.

I’m a firm believer in the psychology of color. Blues are calming, greens are refreshing, yellows are energizing, and reds are stimulating. Understanding how this affects the ambiance of your home can help you choose the right hues.

But choosing a paint color can be so overwhelming! Do you stick with a neutral color or do you take on a new trend? Plus, the cost to paint a room yourself vs hiring a professional is another item to consider.

Not to mention there are a thousand different shades of each paint color. So, how do you know you are making the right decision?

Luckily there are a few foolproof paint colors you can always rely on. Recently BEHR released its Designer Collection, which features 30 of the best-selling and most popular BEHR paint colors. We’ve even used a few of these different colors in our whole house color scheme. If you are a true beginner at painting, it’s a great resource to start with. 

This guide for how to choose paint colors for your home interior contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

My 4-Step Process for How To Choose Paint Colors For Your Home Interior

#1: Start with a paint fan deck

The first step of my paint selection process is always looking at the BEHR paint fan deck to narrow down my paint color choices

I start by going straight to my BEHR Paint Fan Deck, which is a small book with all of the thousands of paint colors that BEHR makes. You can buy one for $20-$30 from most popular paint companies (like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams).

You literally get access to every single paint swatch that you would see on the wall if you were to go down a look at the color choices at The Home Depot.

I find that it is much less overwhelming to flip through the paint chips at home casually than standing in front of the huge wall of color choices at the hardware store.

The paint deck is organized by color family. So if I know I want a blue color, I can quickly flip through the blue colors and find a few different options.

#2: Go online for inspiration

Next I look for paint color inspiration online on Google and Pinterest to see how paint colors look painted in other people's homes

I type in the paint color names that I’m thinking about into either Pinterest or Google. This way I am able to see real-life examples of the paint colors in other people’s rooms. This is a great way to quickly get an idea of what the paint color looks like in different lights and with different styles.

For any of the paint colors that we use in our home, I usually have a really detailed blog post article to learn more about the paint color (including what the undertones are, what it looks like in different rooms, and more!). See all of the articles about paint colors on our website here!

Research color undertones

One thing that I try to learn while I’m looking at the inspiration online is what the color’s undertones are. Undertones are the color that they may pull when painted in the entire room. Undertones can greatly affect how the color appears when painted on the entire wall or room.

Not understanding a paint color’s undertones is the biggest mistake I see people making when they send me frantic emails. They usually go a little something like this: “Help! I painted my bedroom gray, but it looks purple!”

#3: Go to the store to get paint cards

The next step in my easy 4-step process of choosing interior paint colors is to get paint color cards from The Home Depot and hold them up on the walls in my room

Next, I head to The Home Depot and get paint color cards. I usually have it narrowed down to 3-5 different paint colors when I go to the store to get color cards.

Yes, the paint color cards are the same as the colors that I’ve already looked at in the fan deck, but they are on a slightly larger card and there is only standalone color vs a paint chip with several lighter and darker hues.

One thing that I’ve noticed with the paint swatch with several hues is that sometimes I am influenced by the other colors that are next to the swatch. Whereas with the paint card, there’s only one color so I’m not easily influenced by something next to it.

I also like that sometimes on the back of the color card, BEHR includes a short description of the color and sometimes includes the color undertones.

Once I get the paint color cards, I bring them home and hold them up to the wall in the room I’m going to be painting. You can use some painter’s tape to put them up on the wall temporarily so you can step back and take a good look.

Move them around the room and observe them at different times of the day. Turn the lights all on and turn the lights off. All of these things impact how a paint color looks.

From here, I try to narrow it down to 2-3 colors.

#4: Paint samples on the wall

The final step of choosing paint colors for your interiors is to paint small swatches on the walls in your room.

Next. I head back to the store and I purchase actual paint samples of the 2-3 color choices. Paint samples are little cans of paint that you can get at the paint counter at the home improvement store. They will mix up the paint color for you and you can bring it home.

I like to get the real paint up on the walls in the room without relying on how the color looks printed on a small piece of paper. I typically paint a small square on each of the walls in the room of the paint sample.

It is important to paint the sample in different parts of the room because each wall will have a different reflection of light and other elements in the room.

Other Things To Keep in Mind When Choosing Paint Colors

If you need a little more guidance, here are a few more things to remember when choosing the right paint color for your next project. Combine our 4-step process with these additional tips and you’ll be on your way to learning how to choose paint colors for your home interior in no time.

Consider the Room’s Functionality

The first thing to consider when choosing paint colors is the room’s functionality. If you’re painting a bedroom, you may want a calming color such as blue or green that promotes relaxation. Whereas for a kitchen or dining area, you may want a more energetic color like red or yellow which stimulates appetite.

Consider Lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in how paint colors appear in a room. The natural light coming from windows and doors can make paint colors appear differently at different times of the day. A color that looks amazing in natural light might look like something out of a horror movie in a dimly lit room.

It’s always best to test out paint swatches in different lighting conditions before making a final decision. You want to make sure you love the paint color at every time of day, right?

Don't let the process of selecting a paint color stress you out! Our 4-step process is designed to make it easy and fun, so you can enjoy creating a beautiful space.

We talk a lot about how lighting impacts the way a paint color appears in our paint color overviews. Remember that what you see on the small little paint chips inside a paint store, underneath those big fluorescent lights, will look completely different in your home. 

Remember, natural light will show the truest color while artificial light (depending on the temperature of the light bulb used) will often cast a warm or cool glow on the walls. For this reason, it’s important to consider both natural and artificial light sources.

Getting new lights?

As mentioned in the video, if you are going to be installing new ceiling lights as a part of your room’s makeover you want to make sure to do those before you test any paint colors. Even if you are eager to look at paint samples, you definitely want to wait and make sure the lighting is how it will be when you’re all done because it is a more accurate look at how the room will look.

Take Note of your Flooring

Make sure to check to see how the paint color looks with the flooring, tile and any other elements in the room before painting

Much like lighting, flooring also plays a major role in how that final coat of paint will show off!

Lighter floors paired with lighter paint colors will make the room feel bigger and brighter. Alternatively, pairing a lighter floor with a bolder hue can warm up a room and create a moodier ambiance. Ultimately, choosing your flooring to go with your paint color should be a decision that makes you happy.

For darker wood stains on the floor, lighter shades of paint can give the room an elegant and sophisticated look. While darker paint and darker flooring will create a cozier atmosphere, but may make a room feel smaller and closed in.

Other types of flooring, like tile and carpet, will change the way the paint appears, too. Remember, different shades of flooring can bring out those sneaky undertones in paint, so be sure to test the pair together before making a final decision.

Consider Your Décor and Furniture

Don’t forget to think about your existing furniture and decor. You don’t want to choose a color that clashes with your couch in your living room or looks like a hot mess next to your favorite artwork in your dining room.

When choosing paint colors, it’s important to the furniture pieces and existing decor that you already have. If you have bold furniture pieces or patterned textiles in a room, it may be best to opt for a more neutral wall color to create balance. 

On the other hand, if your décor is more subdued or neutral, adding a bold pop of color to your walls can give your space a much-needed boost.

If you are going to be starting from scratch with your decor and furniture for the room, take the extra time to make a mood board for a cohesive look. You can learn how to make an interior design mood board here.

Always Always Always Sample Your Colors

Paint two different samples on the walls in the room before choosing the paint color for your renovation project

Never assume that a paint color will look the same on your walls as it does on a paint swatch or in a magazine. Before committing to painting an entire room, it’s always recommended to sample your colors in different lighting situations. Use all four of the steps outlined above to narrow down your colors and sample the paint before choosing a color.

Paint a small swatch of your chosen color on the wall and observe how it looks in both natural and artificial light and throughout different times of the day. Lighting, decor, room size, and flooring are all important things to consider when sampling paint colors.

Consider the Paint Sheen

The finish (or paint sheen) you choose for your paint can have a significant impact on how the color looks in a room. For instance, a high-gloss paint finish will reflect more light and make the color look brighter, while a matte finish (or a flat paint) will absorb more light and make the color look more subdued.

You can learn more about paint sheen in this guide, but keep in mind the finish you want for your paint and how it will affect the final look of the room or its durability.

Color Theory 101

I could write a lot more about the complexity of color theory when it comes to your paint color choice, but here are the basics of color theory.

  1. Color Wheel: The color wheel is a visual representation of the colors of the spectrum. It’s divided into primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and tertiary colors (yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple, red-orange, and yellow-orange).
  2. Color Harmony: Color harmony is achieved by combining colors that work well together. There are several methods for creating color harmony, including complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel), analogous colors (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel), and triadic colors (colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel).
  3. Color Temperature: Colors can be categorized as warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or cool (blues, greens, purples) based on their perceived temperature. Warm colors are often used to create a sense of energy and excitement, while cool colors are used for a calming effect.
  4. Color Contrast: Color contrast refers to the difference between two colors. High contrast can create a bold and dramatic effect, while low contrast can be more subtle and soothing.

LRV of Paint Colors

During your research, you may see a number referenced for a paint color called LRV. I try to always include a paint color’s LRV in our color overview articles.

LRV (Light Reflectance Value) is a measurement of the amount of visible and usable light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source. In the context of paint colors, LRV is an important consideration as it can affect how a color appears in different lighting conditions.

The LRV scale ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 being absolute black and 100 being pure white. White walls will have a higher LRV and will reflect more light and therefore appear lighter, while a dark color with a lower LRV reflects less light and appear darker.

LRV can also impact how spacious or confined a room feels, with lighter colors creating a sense of airiness and openness, while darker colors can make a space feel more intimate or cozy. When choosing a paint color, it’s important to consider the LRV of the color to ensure that it works well in the intended space and lighting conditions.

Lighter Colors

Check out this guide about choosing paint colors for your home. I walk you through my easy 4-step process so you can choose your next paint color with confidence.

If you are going for a light and bright look, lighter paint colors will reflect more light and create a feeling of openness. 

Neutral paint colors such as beige, gray, greige, and white are always popular choices as they work well with any décor style and can be easily accented with pops of color through accessories such as pillows or curtains.

Here are a few great lighter shades we’ve tried:

Darker Colors

Rolling dark gray color onto walls of living room. There's a lot to consider when choosing paint colors for your home interior. Learn more about how to choose paint colors for your home interior in this guide

I’m a big fan of dark and moody colors in certain situations – I’m even down for a bold shade of black.

Choosing a statement color for one wall or even painting an entire room in a bold hue can add character and depth to your space and make the room feel cozier and more intimate.

Here are a few great darker paint colors we’ve used:

Choosing paint colors for your home interior can be a fun and exciting process. You don’t have to be a color expert or hire interior designers to create a cohesive and beautiful color scheme throughout your home. Remember to consider room functionality, lighting, room size, and existing décor, and test out samples before making a decision about the new paint color.

Avoid the most common paint color mistakes by doing some research beforehand about the paint color’s undertones. And most importantly, choose colors that bring you joy and make your house feel like a home. 

Learn how to choose paint colors for your home's interior with this 4 step guide

Did you learn something new in this article about how to choose paint colors for your home interior?

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