How to Choose a Paint Colour

So, you've nearly finished your latest home remodeling project, but you can't decide what colour is best for the finishing touch? The colour you paint a room can give a room certain appeal and have psychological effects on you. Follow these steps for the perfect colour for your home.


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    Think about the mood of the room. Do you want it to be fresh and open, or intimate and dramatic? Lighter feelings are usually created by cool colours, while warm colours generally make the room heavier and more dramatic. Do you want stimulating and sociable or formal and quiet? Warm, bright and contrasting colours make for a more outgoing atmosphere; for a more formal atmosphere, try going with deeper blue-greens and neutrals.
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    Check the lighting. They have the light boxes at paint stores for a reason: colours can look different in different lighting.
    • Natural lighting shows the truest colours
    • Warm tones and yellows are brought out by incandescent lighting
    • Fluorescent lighting causes a sharp blue tone
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    Don't go headfirst into painting; try painting your colour on a poster board before doing the entire wall. Don't be afraid to get brighter colours outside of your comfort zone; a chocolate brown or canary yellow might be great for an accent, or maybe the entire wall.
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    Use the colour wheel. A small colour wheel can be an invaluable asset when picking paint colours. It can help you intensify colours; for instance, if you want a strong red, have green accents, as they are complementary colours and bring each other out. Look up other complementary colours and use them for accents and main colours.
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    Don't just focus on the one room. You need to think of your house as a whole, otherwise you will have abrupt stops and starts of different colours. Consider how the colour of, say, the dining room interacts with the colour of the kitchen.
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    Think having just one colour is boring? Think again. There are so many shades of colours, you could have an entire house painted in shades of white and it would never feel boring. Use the colour wheel to find different shades of a colour that go very well with each other; you could, for example, have goldenrod walls with maize accents, or olive walls with shamrock trim. The possibilities are endless for a single colour.
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    Consider the room. If you have a spacious room that you want to seem cozier, go with a warm hue; for smaller rooms that you want to feel larger, use cooler hues.
    • Consider the furniture, too. If you've already got furniture, choose paint that will not clash with it.
    • Finishes play a big part. If you choose the same colour for walls and trim, simply getting different finishes can make them seem different. You could have an eggshell finish on walls and satin on trim, or vice versa. The choice is yours. Use flat paint for low-traffic areas, such as ceilings and walls. Following that, use low-luster or satin finishes on areas you desire to have a bit of a shine; these types of paint are easier to clean and are better in high-traffic areas like hallways, kids' rooms, and kitchens. Using this information, use high-gloss paints for shelves, banisters, or the like-anything you'd like to accent. But beware, higher glosses tend to bring out imperfections.


  • Use colour psychology when choosing paint, but don't base your entire decision on it;
    • White represents purity and sterility. It can make a room seem more open, but can also make it seem cold and unwelcoming.
    • Black generally implies death and fear, but can also mean classic or new. It can make a room seem smaller but is overpowering when used in excess.
    • Grey is between white and black. Depending on the tint, grey can make a room seem larger or smaller; it can mean neutrality or strong emotions.
    • Red, when used excessively, can raise blood pressure and make the heart beat faster. It generally makes whatever it's painted in seem larger and is overpowering in excess. It can mean love, sex, romance, heat and war.
    • Orange implies energy and happiness. Orange is between red and yellow and thus borrows feelings from both.
    • Yellow generally feels happy, but when there is too much it can make you feel annoyed or angry. It can also mean sunlight and optimism and is a natural feeling colour when in a more neutral state.
    • Green evokes feelings of nature, which is why it is generally used with the eco-friendly movement. Greens in the extremes can be bad due to the association with the expression 'green with envy'. It also symbolizes youth, good luck, go, and health.
    • Blue is confident and stable, yet non-threatening. It can also evoke feelings of depression. It can mean skies, calmness, confidence, liberalism (in the US), and conservatism (Canada and Europe).
    • Purple evokes feelings of royalty and wisdom, and is used for a Purple Heart because it causes those feelings. It can also mean nobility, wisdom, and pride.
    • Pink is a less saturated shade of red, but has very different feelings associated with it. Pink symbolizes spring, sympathy, love, and femininity.
    • Brown has an environmental quality that is also coupled with green. Brown evokes feelings of nature, richness, tradition, and filth.
  • If you absolutely love a colour, but it's a bit overpowering to paint an entire room with, just use it for accents. Use a neutral colour for the walls in general, and paint using the other colour either one wall, the ceiling, the trim, a chair-anything. Painting a few select bits of a room with a colour that pops will look good with a neutral colour all over.
  • Paint, using test quarts, things such as cardboard or poster board, and hang them somewhere where you can see them. Leave them there for a few days and see if you could live with that colour.
  • Use decorative touches to add 'oomph!'. Adding texture can make colours seem to have dynamics. You could also have stripes, or circles. Anything is possible with a bit of painting tape.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Paint store
  • Cardboard or poster board
  • Paintbrushes

Article Info

Categories: Painting and Other Finishes