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Choosing Paint Colours

Part-time and freelance writer with plenty of tips for DIY projects.


Choosing the right paint colours

Paint is probably the most cost-effective home decorating tool. Paint protects, adds color, and extends the life of your home and furniture. But before you pull out the brush or roller, consider whether your walls or furniture need to be repaired first. If the wall is in good shape, then it’s time to choose a color and a finish. Visit your local hardware store to look at paint chips and familiarize yourself with different types of paint. There are so many possibilities of color and texture! Some local stores offer free or low-cost classes on painting techniques. For your first visit, try to go when the store is not crowded (on a weekday) and a clerk can give you his or her undivided attention.

Choosing a color is a tough decision. Do not make it haphazardly.

Some decorators say to start with a fabric, a piece of furniture that you like, artwork that you want to hang on the wall, or some other decorative item and coordinate your color scheme to it. My friend Antoine Lambert, a professional color consultant, and interior designer says that the most important thing you can do when choosing a new color for a room is to think about exactly how you want to feel when you are in the room.

Do you want this room to be energized, calm, neutral, warm, or cool? How do certain colors make you feel? Does red excite or irritate you? Does blue calm or depress you? Colors provoke emotional responses that vary among individuals as well as cultures.

Colors and color combinations also go in and out of fashion. However, Antoine offers some basic color guidelines, both positive and negative connotations that generally apply.

  • Yellow is sunny, cheerful, radiant, and happy. Pale, soft yellows are good for kitchens. But yellow is also associated with caution and can be glaring and intense.
  • Orange, a mixture of yellow and red, can be warm, invigorating, friendly, fun, and lively, but it can also be overpowering, flamboyant, conspicuous, and offensive.
  • Red is exciting and stimulating, indicates warmth, and can stimulate the appetite, making it great for kitchens and dining rooms. Red is also the first color an infant will respond to. On the negative side, red can be aggressive and make a room feel too warm.
  • Purple strikes a balance between stimulating red and calming blue. It is commonly associated with royalty, spirituality, and creativity. On the downside, purple can be overpowering and heavy.
  • Blue, the favorite color of the Western world, represents the sky, water, and tranquility. Blue has actually been known to lower blood pressure, but it can also be depressing and cold. Since many of us love blue, it can also be overused, so try to balance it with other colors.
  • Green is the calming color of nature, a balance of uplifting yellow and calming blue. It represents harmony, balance, hope, sincerity, stability, growth, and spring. On a negative note, green can be associated with jealousy, detachment, and disappointment.
  • Brown is associated with comfort, warmth, protection, dependability, and earth. However, brown can be dull or boring, so spice it up with some brighter accents.
  • Black is elegant, strong, creative, powerful, and sexy. Too much black can be difficult to live with, as it can also connote superiority, evil, sorrow, and emptiness.
  • White symbolizes purity, brilliance, truthfulness, cleanliness, and simplicity. It can be hygienic and uncluttered, but also cold, stark, and clinical. White can be hard to keep clean for those of us with children or pets.
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Once you have selected your color, you’ll need a sample packet or a quart. It is best to paint your sample (at least two coats) on a piece of mat board that you can place in different positions around the room. Light has the most effect on your color choice. Since sunlight is constantly changing, your paint color will also change throughout the day.

What appears as one color in the morning light will transform a little in the afternoon. Take several days to study and carefully consider your paint choice. If you have doubts, try another color.

You may want a warmer or cooler version. Remember that colors tend to darken as they dry, so go with a lighter hue if you are not sure of the intensity. In addition to color, you need to choose the proper type of paint for the job. Latex (water-based) is the most common choice because it’s easy to clean up. For a surface that will be exposed to water often, oil-based is best. Paints come in a variety of sheen or gloss levels, ranging from “high gloss” (the shiniest) to “flat” (virtually no shine). Those with higher gloss reflect more light, so they can make a room look brighter and may be easier to wash, but they also are harder to apply and may accentuate imperfections or previous repairs.

Be sure that you’re completely satisfied with your choice before you begin to paint.

Now that you've probably had some ideas on the paint colors you intend to use. It's time to start the painting process. You can read more about the actual painting procedures here: Let's Get Painting.


Fairus Mohd Aziz (author) from Malaysia on September 10, 2019:

You're most welcome

Aniekwensi, Obinna Patrick on September 10, 2019:

Thanks for the advice.

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