Chroma Crisis?

Seven secrets to picking the perfect paint colors for your rooms.

When choosing or recommending a new hue for painting a room, I feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety. It’s thrilling to be able to transform a space so easily and dramatically, yet it’s a bit frightening to wield the weight of paint’s power. Color can be serious stuff: seriously great or seriously disappointing.

So, to make the experience fun and not frustrating, here are some tips I offer when people ask me for paint color suggestions.

1. Look in your closet. You’ll notice a trend in the colors you like to wear: earth shades, tropical tones, dusty or bright, warm or cool. It’s a start toward discovering comfortable colors for your walls. You might even find a shirt or sweater that is just right.

2. Look to the masters. Find an appealing object such as a piece of art or a designer fabric and pull a color scheme from there. Its hues have been professionally selected and combined. And if your gut tells you it’s beautiful, it passes the test.

3. Look around. Pay attention to the walls and exteriors of buildings; then ask the homeowner or shopkeeper what paint colors were used. Don’t be shy; most people are flattered that you notice. That way, you have the advantage of seeing the results in large scale applications, not just on a small paint chip.

4. Look on the Internet. Search subjects such as, “Best yellows for kitchens” or “Most popular off-white paint colors.” You’ll find repeat favorites of people who are passionate about color and design.

5. Look to the professionals. Ask a painter which colors are most trendy and those that are timeless. Or get advice from your local paint store. These folks are experienced at knowing how a small color sample translates to its effect in an entire room.

6. Look at less. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused by the thousands of colors available. Sometimes it helps to limit your choices to a small, carefully crafted color palette. Pick up a folder of color groupings instead of a whole fistful of chip strips.

7. Look at simplicity. Color is lovely, but off-whites and neutrals are sometimes best. Let your walls be the ideal background to enrich the colors in your furniture and accessories.

Bonus Video: