Choosing the right paint colors for your home can be stressful. We’ve all been there, staring out at a hardware store display filled with thousands of different swatches, hundreds of options for each color. Or standing in a room trying to wrap our heads around its size and future layout, style, accents, corresponding décor, lighting (natural and otherwise), while trying to take into account the opinions and preferences of all those who will end up living in or visiting that space.

But, as daunting as it all may seem, there are some tried-and-true tips and strategies that experts recommend you use to quickly get started, narrow down your options, and settle on the perfect color for you AND your space.

So, let’s get started!

Tip #1 – Don’t choose your paint first

While it sometimes like a paint color should be the first, foundational choice you make as part of a remodel project, the truth is that paint can be changed with relative ease compared to the other elements of a brand-new kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom build or remodel. And this means it’s almost always better to start with your design and features, and choose paint to match it further down the line instead of doing things the other way around.

Many homeowners also find that starting with a particular type of granite, backsplash, cabinetry, flooring, faucet, or appliances can also fill in the space enough that making the call on paint (whether a very general color or a very specific hue) becomes much, much easier, helping you understand whether you should add drama with your paint selection or soften things up with a more neutral choice.

Tip #2 – Borrow a color palette from somewhere (or someone) else

Often, the very best way to choose a color palette for a room, or even for a house as a whole, is to find an inspirational picture of another space that you love (Pinterest anyone?) or else to find something else, like a painting, piece of furniture, or an item of clothing that has a color or color arrangement you love.

Or you can start with one of these wild-found colors and use an interior-design color wheel to explore the relationship between that color and its related colors, looking for complementary options.

It’s a relatively simple thing for stores to perfectly match specific colors you bring in, and having your inspiration on-hand can also tremendously help inform your choices for the space as a whole or provide some much-needed clarity for your designer/contractor.

Tip #3 – Conventional, or daring?

Most homeowners will use neutral colors on their walls to tone down a space and draw attention to other features and highlights. But, for some, a high contrast wall color or bright accent wall can produce a more energetic or fashionable tone.

If you do opt for a neutral color, and your house is busy with kids or pets, a medium neutral tone may be the right choice as it will generally hide stains, scuffs, and scratches better than lighter options. Otherwise, white and off-white will naturally highlight things like rugs, brickwork, appliances, furniture, textiles, shower curtains, bedspreads, and other articles, many of which will be far easier to replace than paint if you decide that you’re done with your blue period.

Tip #4 – Bigger or Smaller?

While paint can certainly set a mood and re-flavor a space to be cozy, vibrant, sophisticated, or chaotic, its ability to change how we perceive the physical proportions of a room is no less profound.

By altering the darkness and lightness of a specific wall or walls, particularly the ceiling, you can make a room appear shorter or longer, lower or higher, and narrower or wider. But, for those of us who aren’t working in optical illusions, a good general rule tis that dark colors make spaces smaller or cozier, while light colors (as well as natural lighting, glass, and mirrors) make small spaces feel bigger and more open.

Tip #5 – 60/30/10

The 60-30-10 rule is an interior design rule of thumb that states that 60% of a room should be your dominant color, 30% should be a secondary color (or a pattern or texture), and the remaining 10% should be an accent. This provides a tried-and-true guideline that can balance out the colors used in a space.

Generally, your accent color will be the brightest and most dramatic color used in a space. It is often added through replaceable decorative or functional items, but can also find its way into features like backsplashes or kitchen appliances.

Your main color and additional color, on the other hand, are often used as paint colors for walls, as well as other major features like backsplashes, countertops, cabinetry, flooring, and more. So, picture the space and assign your chosen colors to different features based on size, then work from there.

Tip #6 – Check Undertones

Check some paint swatches and you’ll see that each color, whether it’s green, red, blue, or yellow, is more than the true color it falls under within the color wheel. Each different shade also has a specific warm or cool undertone that can dramatically change the look and feel of the room it’s painted into.

In general:

  • Warm paint colors will have a base color/undertone like yellow or red, and will make a room feel cozy or energetic
  • Cool paint colors will have a base color/undertone like blue, green, or gray and will tend to make a room feel more fresh, calm, or soothing

These undertones can also change how paint responds to different types of lighting, whether that be natural lighting, daylight, soft white, or incandescent lighting. To better understand these changes, take your swatches home and tape them to the wall, or paint sample streaks and see how your options feel in situ.

Tip #7 – Choose The Right Sheen For The Job

Lastly, after you’ve chosen all your colors and perfected your palette, undertones and all, you need top pick the sheen to add to the paint color. This refers to the reflectivity or shininess of the paint, which also changes its physical feel and how easy it is to clean. In general, higher sheen paints (gloss finish) are easier to wipe clean but tend to look dirtier faster. Lower sheens (matte or satin) are harder to clean but will hide flaws better.

Sheens typically include:

  • Gloss: a good option for trim and, situationally, cabinet faces
  • Semi-gloss: great for trim, cabinets, and areas with a lot of humidity like bathrooms
  • Satin: ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways and living rooms, as well as children’s rooms
  • Eggshell: similar to satin but even harder working, a splendid choice for main living areas
  • Flat/Matte: a good solution for covering up areas that have been scuffed or damaged in the past

Tip #8 – Work With The Pros

Still feeling underequipped for the job? No worries!

Here at Amber Valley Construction we’ve helped with more than our fair share of West Michigan home remodels, including kitchen, bathroom, basement, and design and planning work. So, if you need some help creating and building a space that you can live in and love for years to come, give us a call. We’re here to help!