Your Three Biggest Design Challenges: Part Three, Picking Paint Colors


The last time I wrote a blog post with the words “Picking Paint Colors” in the title was over a year ago.  Since, I’ve written over 100 other  posts…yet, per  Google Analytics, this post is my #2 all-time draw-only recently nudged out of 1st place by a post about Michelangelo. So yes, it’d seem there is a lot of interest in how to pick a paint color.

But picking the right paint color goes beyond what is trendy, or what works with the sofa. Yes, color is a highly personal expression, but IMO  there is way too much pressure to pick THE color. Here’s how to get some perspective, and get you  going in the right direction, confidently.


Whispy, fluffy pastels  Even in nurseries, colors are more sophisticated, more saturated-meaning there is a solid, dense appearance to the pigment. I agree with the notion that our world influences our color preferences; these days we seem to want our walls to comfort us, our rooms to embrace us.

Any colors you don’t already have in your closet  Because we get dressed every day, we tend to be more confident about the colors we like, and what makes us look and feel good.  If there isn’t any  ____ in your closet, chances are  you won’t be happy with it on the wall.

Believing you can imagine how it’ll look from a 2×2 square. Or a 4×4 square. Or those nail-polish sample bottles.  Seriously.  Narrow it down to your top 2 or 3, then spring for a quart of each, and just put it on the wall. You can always paint it over,  and it’ll  probably cost you a lot less than having to hit Home Goods after, to buy a lot of stupid stuff you don’t need to try to make a wrong color right.

Thinking this is a decision of a lifetime  Paint is the cheapest and the quickest way to change a room. Look-we get tired of things, we all change our minds, and even sometimes we mis-calculate (!!).  I’m not saying it’s not an important decision, or that you should just pick anything and hope for the best, but it’s just paint!  Make your best choice, and run with it.


Look at magazine pics, cruise through furniture stores as an easy way to try different colors on for size.  Quickly, see what looks you’re drawn to.  I recommend NOT fixating on the exact color  used there, but use it to guide you, give you direction or encouragement to maybe step out of your comfort zone a teeney bit.  Again-color will ‘read’ differently depending on how big the room is, what was underneath, how many coats, lighting , and what else it’s shown with.

Know you have some wiggle room.  When you paint, everything comes down, or gets covered up; it’s just walls with your new color, and can give you all kinds of pause.  But it’ll look different after everything is uncovered or moved back, then different again once you start adding other things in.  Don’t rush to judgement,  play with it, give it a little time.  If you find you like the color, but it needs to be ‘cut’ a bit,  an oversize mirror or piece of wall art would do the job nicely.

AND-you have a “Plan B”  OK, a week goes by, and there is no way around it, you truly hate the new wall color-just have it re-painted. It’s easy, and cheap enough. The hardest, and most expensive work is already done: repairing-priming-trim-ceilings.  Just make the decision quickly:  have the painter come back one rainy day to cover work they recently did, then you can get on with your life.

HAVE FUN!   Trust your instincts, and go for it. Seeing the process through to get a look you love will more than worth it, and it’ll make  your next project easier!