Choosing a Paint Color

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You may remember from our initial house tour that the inside of our home was painted all sorts of bright colors, like orange and red and mustard yellow. I didn't mention much about the outside of the house but it, too, has a rather festive feel. Now that we've toned down the living room, bathroom and other spaces where we tend to hang out a lot, I figured it was high time we start choosing a paint color for the outside of the house.

Choosing a paint color that works with your surroundings and other colors throughout your home

We're working with BEHR to finally bring all the details together.

9 Tips for Choosing a Paint Color

Select your color scheme

In general, colors throughout the inside and outside of a home should flow well together. We have a modern country thing going on at our place, with more traditional and bland tones meeting pops of jewel tones throughout. With a lot of imperfections still waiting to be dealt with around here, I find that the occasional bright color serves as a welcome distraction. It helps to start with a large decorative piece that will serve as a central focus in the home – such as a rug or painting – and pull colors from there. Pairing opposite ends of the color wheel is also a good place to start.

Bring home swatches

Trying to pick colors in-store is like trying to buy clothes without trying them on. Gather swatches and sit in the space you'll be painting to get a feel for which tones really fit. Go with higher-quality paints, which offer longer-lasting colors. We are exclusively using BEHR Marquee after trying it in our studio and experiencing the incredible difference (and surprising money savings) between their one-coat coverage versus cheap paints that require a lot more coats and frequent touch-ups.

Narrow down to about five samples

I find that number to be enough that I have options, but I'm not completely overwhelmed. Paint large blocks onto the wall you'll be changing to get a real-life feel for your choice before you commit to gallons and hours spent on an untested color.

Think about texture

The outside of a house tends to get painted in a matte or eggshell sheen, whereas high-traffic areas such as the kitchen and bathroom are traditionally painted in a glossier sheen for easy cleanup.

Get help choosing a paint color

Get a second (and third and fourth) opinion

Before buying your paint, have a friend or two come over and weigh in. What you initially see as a calm, cool yellow may be interpreted as a pale green to somebody else's eyes. I've had friends point out potential color scheme clashes that I hadn't considered, and I've found that I'm much happier with my final result if I poll a lot of people. Also, sharing with friends online can be helpful when choosing a paint color but do keep in mind that colors can appear very different on screen. In this example, my friends online all chose the middle color, but everyone in person unanimously agreed that it was too dark. We wound up going one shade lighter.

View it in every light

As you can see from our midday and dusk photos above, lighting changes colors dramatically. Before choosing a paint color, make sure you're satisfied with how it looks in every condition and every time of day.

Give it time

Obviously you need to wait for paint to dry fully before selecting the final color. Even once you've gone through the process of choosing a paint color, take a day or two to sit with it. You may have second thoughts once you start planning around that color and envisioning it all coming together.

Choosing a paint color by narrowing options

Consider all your spaces

Think about complementary colors for adjacent rooms. If you're going to be using one of your tester colors in another room, it's critical that you test it out in that space to see how that room's lighting affects it. You can see that our colors looked completely different in a shady indoor room than they looked outside.

Don't forget the details

Things like ceiling or accent color can really change the feel of a project. When choosing a paint color, make sure you test your color pick out next to the colors and fabrics that will accompany it.

Has your family had trouble choosing a paint color?


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