How to Pick Your Paint Colors Right the First Time

I have been there, staring at a blank set of walls imagining my newly painted space and all that it could be.  It’s exciting and seems simple enough, right?  Can’t I just pick a color and start brushing it on? Well, the truth is, it is exciting!  But, it is very easy to get caught up in the excitement and skip the important steps that will ensure that you get the paint color right the first time.  

Oh so many times I see clients paint an entire room, just to end up not loving it.  Or, the grey they thought was perfect for their baby boy’s nursery ends up looking purple.  This ends up to be a waste of money and worse, your time!  

So, what are the steps to choosing the right color the first time?


Pick your paint last!

Ok, so this may seem backwards, but it’s the truth!  When designing a room, there are many pieces that go into it.  Those pieces will most likely have color in them, which you will want to match the paint to.  For example, you may have the perfect area rug picked out.  It is much easier to match the paint to the rug as opposed to the other way around!  Choose your upholstered pieces first, then the paint.

This rug was the starting point for a local client’s playroom.  She loved the rug, so we used the aqua in the rug to inspire our paint color.

Do some research!

Once you have an idea of the color you want based on your already existing colors in the room, it’s time to do some research.  If you know you want a dark green, get googling “best dark green paint colors.” Caution: you may become overwhelmed with the choices and reviews.  I suggest narrowing it down to 4 or 5 specific colors you like best and create a Pinterest board or better yet, save them on your phone!

Create a list similar to this one to keep track of the colors and brands you think you may like!

Head to the paint store!

When you get there, don’t panic because you will most likely see more colors than you knew existed.  But remember, you have done your research and are ready to tackle this!  I suggest asking for help finding the 5 colors you wrote down.  Then, I encourage clients to pick 1 or 2 other colors that catch your eye.  If you have swatches of fabric that you are trying to match, take those along with you.  You will leave with about 7 swatches.  

Head home with those swatches!

Take those swatches home and place them on the wall.  View them at different times of the day, because lighting can play a huge role in what the paint looks like.  You want to love it in natural daylight and with the lights on in the evening as well.  

I also suggest crossing out the names of the actual colors. If we know that “Woodland Lichen” is the number one choice in green paint for designers on Pinterest, we are more likely to pick this one.  Now, narrow it down to 3 or 4 colors.  If you have trim or woodwork that you are working with in the room, place the swatches by those.

Back to the paint store for samples!

Yep, back to the store!  This time you will need to go back with the 3 or 4 colors you chose.  Ask for a sample of each.  They will put these fun little swipes of color on the top.  Don’t worry, they may look the same, but they will look different once on the wall.

Paint a sample on the wall!

The next step is the most important.  You can either paint a sample of each color directly on the wall.  Or, you can get a large piece of white poster board and paint a sample on each.  Label each color as you go, because you may forget!  I highly recommend painting your samples on white walls, otherwise you will be comparing it to your old color. 

Once it’s on the wall, leave it there!  Let it go for a few days at least, until you have your heart set!  At that point, you are ready to head back to the paint store for the real deal!  

Curious as to which green paint color I chose from above for my sunroom makeover?  I will be posting updates on the blog.  

If you need help choosing paint colors for your own home, book a free Discovery Call here to see how I can help. 

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