The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Paint Colors: Tips from a Professional Painter and Decorator

Bob Thomas


As a qualified painter and decorator, I've had my fair share of experiences helping clients choose the perfect paint colors for their homes.

The process can be overwhelming, with endless color options and the pressure to create the right atmosphere.

To make the process easier, I've compiled my top tips for choosing paint colors that will transform your space and make you feel right at home.

Quick Summary

Choosing paint colors can be a daunting task, but with a few simple tips, you can create the perfect atmosphere in your space. Consider lighting, color psychology, and your personal style to make the best choice. Test colors on your walls, and don't be afraid to experiment!

Consider the Lighting

One of the most critical factors in choosing a paint color is the lighting in the room.

Natural light, artificial light, and the direction the room faces can all affect how colors appear on your walls.

  • North-facing rooms tend to have cooler, bluish light, so warmer colors can help balance the coolness.
  • South-facing rooms get abundant warm light, making most colors appear brighter and more vivid.
  • East-facing rooms have warm light in the morning and cooler light in the afternoon.
  • West-facing rooms get cooler light in the morning and warmer, golden light in the afternoon.

When selecting colors, keep in mind the type of lighting in the room and how it will affect the paint color throughout the day.

Understand Color Psychology

Colors can evoke different emotions and moods.

When choosing paint colors, consider the psychological effects they can have on you and your space.

  • Red: Energizing and stimulating, red can be a bold choice for a dining room or kitchen.
  • Yellow: Cheerful and uplifting, yellow works well in kitchens and breakfast nooks.
  • Blue: Calming and serene, blue is a popular choice for bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Green: Restful and rejuvenating, green is perfect for living rooms and home offices.

Think about the atmosphere you want to create and choose colors that will help you achieve that mood.

Use Your Personal Style as Inspiration

Your home should reflect your personal style, so don't be afraid to choose colors that resonate with you. If you love bold colors, go for it!

If you prefer neutral shades, that's perfectly fine, too. The key is to create a space that feels like "you."

Test Colors on Your Walls

Before committing to a color, it's crucial to test it on your walls.

Paint swatches can be deceiving, and a color that looks great in the store might look entirely different in your space.

Purchase sample pots and paint a small section of the wall to see how the color looks in your room's lighting. This step can save you from costly mistakes and regrets.

Don't Be Afraid to Experiment

Choosing paint colors should be a fun and creative process.

Don't be afraid to try something new or mix and match colors.

You can always repaint if you're not happy with the results, so take risks and let your imagination run wild!

Here are a few of my favorite paint color combinations:

  • Charcoal Gray and Mustard Yellow: A sophisticated and modern combination that works well in living rooms and home offices.
  • Soft Pink and Sage Green: A calming and soothing color scheme perfect for bedrooms and nurseries.
  • Navy Blue and Crisp White: A classic and timeless pairing that adds a touch of elegance to any room.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. How do I choose a paint color that complements my furniture and décor?

  A: Look for colors that coordinate with the main elements in your room, such as upholstery, artwork, or rugs.

You can also use a color wheel to find complementary or analogous colors that work well together.

Don't be afraid to mix and match – sometimes, contrasting colors can create a striking and visually appealing space.

Q. Should I paint all the rooms in my house the same color?

  A: This depends on your personal preference.

Some people prefer a cohesive color scheme throughout their home, while others enjoy having each room feature a unique color.

Consider the overall flow of your home and how each room relates to the next when making your decision.

Q. How do I choose the right paint finish?

  A: The right paint finish depends on the room and its purpose.

Generally, flat or matte finishes are best for low-traffic areas like bedrooms and living rooms, while satin or eggshell finishes work well in kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways.

Glossy finishes are ideal for trim, doors, and other accents.

Q. Can I use dark colors in a small room?

  A: Yes, you can use dark colors in a small room, but it may make the space feel more enclosed.

If you want to create the illusion of a larger room, opt for lighter colors, as they reflect light and make a room feel more spacious.

However, if you love dark colors, don't be afraid to use them – it's all about creating a space that reflects your personality and style.

Q. How many colors should I use in a room?

  A: There is no strict rule for the number of colors you should use in a room.

A simple approach is to choose one primary color, one secondary color, and one accent color. This creates a balanced and harmonious look.

However, feel free to experiment with more colors if it suits your style and vision for the space.

Q. What are some tips for choosing paint colors for an open concept living space?

  A: In an open concept living space, it's essential to create a cohesive color scheme that flows throughout the area.

Choose colors that complement each other and coordinate with your furniture and décor.

You can also use different shades of the same color to create subtle distinctions between the various zones in the open space.

Q. How can I make sure the paint color I choose will look good on my walls?

  A: The best way to ensure the color you choose will look good on your walls is to test it.

Purchase sample pots and paint a small section of the wall to see how the color looks in your room's lighting.

Be sure to observe the color at different times of the day, as the lighting can change how it appears.


Remember, the most important thing is to create a space that feels like home.

By considering lighting, color psychology, your personal style, and testing colors, you'll be well on your way to choosing the perfect paint colors for your space.

Suggested Products:

  1. Color Wheel: A color wheel is an essential tool for choosing paint colors, as it helps you understand color relationships and harmonies to create a visually appealing space.
  2. Paint Swatches: Paint swatches are useful for comparing different shades and hues of colors, making it easier to choose the perfect paint color for your space.
  3. Digital Paint Visualizer: A digital paint visualizer allows you to virtually apply different paint colors to your room, enabling you to visualize how the colors will look in your space before making a decision.
  4. Paint Samples: Investing in paint samples allows you to test different paint colors on your walls before committing to a full gallon, ensuring you make the right choice.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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