I’m not entirely certain when or how it happened, but color is one of my emotional sweet spots. The right wall color evokes strong reactions from me. I see a bright yellow flower, and I’m immediately happy. Scarlet lipstick conjures mental images of my beautiful mother and her feminine stilettos. A soft blue sky soothes me with memories of childhood innocence. And pale pink sends ribbons floating through my mind’s eye, weaving a soft, warm baby’s blanket.
Where I got these images, I can’t recall. They’re undoubtedly some part of my past and as such, imprinted in my mind. Perhaps these images of my past are why choosing a wall color doesn’t scare me one bit. A yellow house? Okay! A bright coral design studio? Absolutely! Bring it on, color is one of my best friends.
If you’ve ever wondered how to choose the right wall color, you’re not alone. I get this question all the time. Follow these steps below to help inspire you to find the perfect wall color for your home.
Step 1: Think before you act.
I mean this literally. Consider the colors that make you happy. The question really isn’t, “Which color is in right now?” Nor is it, “Which wall color will match everything I already own?” Those are such boring questions. That wall you’re about to paint belongs to you. Let its color reflect the best version of who you truly are.
Step 2: Resist the Urge to Go Straight to the Paint Store.
You’ve finally got the time, and today’s the day! That tiered display of paint chips at the paint store is calling your name, right? Yeah, I know. I’ve been there myself. But don’t do it. Your best resources are actually right at your fingertips, so there’s hardly a reason to leave home yet.
Back in the day, design magazines were my sources of inspiration. I’d thumb through the pages, studying every detail, until the pages were as worn and weathered as Dead Sea scrolls. These days, with the internet so easily accessible, I’m now able to save my design magazines for the coffee table. A simple internet search for images of “blue bedrooms” or “rust dining rooms” will return all sorts of amazing ideas. Check out the design apps. Browse through inspiring design websites. Most of these apps and sites are all too delighted to share specific wall color ideas. It’s easy to find color names and numbers, thus eliminating the guessing game. By the time you close your search engine, you’ll most likely have a few solid ideas on where to start.
Step 3: Refuse to Choose Your Wall Color from a 1″ Swatch.
Trust me on this one. Just don’t do it. Those tiny little swatches do not accurately portray true hues and undertones. Since every color has hues and undertones, it’s wise to search for these. Embrace them as your friends. The hues and undertones cause us to see purple once the wall is painted, even though we could have sworn that color was gray while we were standing in the store under those bright fluorescent lights.
Most paint stores will assist you in ordering 8″x10″ (or some similar size) samples of their colors. If the bricks and mortar store won’t order the samples for you, the store’s website will. I highly recommend doing this. As a matter of fact, I never use a new paint color without ordering a large sample first. I love color, but I respect that in art, as in life, things are not always as they seem upon first glance.
Step 4: Examine Your Paint Samples Outside, in Natural Sunlight.
Once your large swatches are in hand, tape them on the wall of the room you intend to paint. Prepare to be amazed at how differently they look once you step back several feet and examine them! But don’t stop there.
It’s equally important (translate this as necessary) to double-check your paint samples outside in natural sunlight. Lighting matters, for sure. It highlights the hues. It uncovers the undertones. Remind yourself that these hues and undertones will appear once the wall is painted. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing. These characteristics add depth, dimension, and character to the color. So trust what you see and embrace the complexity of color as part of the creative process.
Oh, and don’t worry about what the neighbors think as they watch you scrutinizing all those sheets of colored paper outside in the sunlight. Let them wonder what in the world you’re up to! After all, with creativity comes permission to be a little quirky, to act a little artsy. So go for it!
And enjoy your new wall color.