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Great Tips For Choosing Paint Colors

It's well known that paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to change a room, but choosing a color isn't always so simple. Here, our top tips for finding the right color for each room:

Don't Choose Your Paint Color First

Paint comes in an almost infinite range of hues, while fabrics, rugs + furniture do not, so choose other elements first, if possible. For color inspiration, pin pics on Pinterest or tear out magazine pages of rooms you like. Another good source for color cues: your closet. The colors you love to wear often look great in your home, too.

What's Your Focal Point?

What do you want to emphasize or minimize? If you have a vibrantly patterned rug, large painting or beautiful view, the walls should play a supporting role. If your furniture is neutral, consider using color on walls to give the room more personality. If you have good architecture + trim, highlight it with glossy white paint, and if you have elements you want to minimize, painting everything the same color will help problem areas recede.

Overwhelmed By The Sea Of Color Chips In The Paint Store?

You're not alone! Choosing from curated collections (such as west elm's seasonal color collections for Sherwin–Williams®) can help. Or bring along a few items with colors you love—a fabric or rug swatch, artwork or a vase—to help guide your choices. You might want to pull out a less–prominent or neutral color from a pattern to use on your walls.

Make Neutrals More Interesting

Neutral doesn't have to mean "beige." Choose a richer, more complex hue that's a little darker or grayer or one that can't be easily categorized, such as greige, gray–green or chalky brown. Similarly, if you love a color but it feels too strong or bright, try a somewhat lighter, grayed version of that hue.

Certain Colors Are Harder To Get Right

Yellow, red or pink can be trickier to nail. Be sure to test a variety of shades at all times of day if you're choosing from these color families. Neutrals, primarys and greens are usually more forgiving.

Take Chips Home

The lighting in a paint store is nothing like your home, so look at chips in situ. If you're having trouble choosing, it's often easier to use a process of elimination–take out the ones you don't like as much, until you've narrowed it down to 3–4 shades you like enough to test out.

Always Test Paints First!

Most paint companies sell tester sizes, such as Sherwin-Williams' Colors to Go. Design pros recommend painting samples on poster board, foam core, or "Small Wall" Paint Sample Boards (available at Sherwin-Williams). This way you can move samples around to see how they look in different areas, and next to elements like the floor, trim and furniture.

View At Different Times

Paint colors look truest in natural daylight, but you'll also want to see how they look at night in artificial light (usually much darker) and on different walls. Keep in mind that paint colors generally appear a little darker and more intense once they're dry and on all four walls.

How Do Colors Look From Room To Room?

You want to have a natural flow, especially in an open–plan house. If you're painting an entire floor, create a paint palette with all your choices to see how they look together. Consider carrying a color thread through rooms in larger and smaller doses, and painting all the trim the same.

Trim Doesn't Have To Be White

White or off–white trim almost always looks good, but it also looks chic to choose a trim that's the same as your wall color, or a shade or two darker (or lighter), in a glossier sheen. Or you could opt for colored trim with white walls. This is often seen in historic homes, but it can look modern as well, depending on the color you choose—say, a charcoal gray.

Choose The Right Finish

Satin or eggshell finish has a slight sheen, which adds polish and is easy to clean, making it a good choice for most rooms.

Flat or matte finish is best for ceilings and walls with imperfections. Sherwin-Williams' Emerald Paint comes in a flat finish that's as washable as a glossy finish. It incorporates a primer and hides dark colors well.

Semi–gloss has sheen and durability that makes it ideal for trim and cabinetry; it also resists moisture, making it good for kitchens and baths.

High–gloss paint has the most shine and resilience, so use it on smooth surfaces that you want to draw attention to, such as trim, doors, furniture or lacquer–like walls.

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