One of the most common questions I get is how to choose the best paint colors for your home. Often it is from readers who are moving into a new home and don’t know where to start in terms of paint colors. I am going to break down my best tips for creating the perfect color palette for your home.
1 | What is the function of the room?
It is important to determine how you want to utilize a space before slapping on a fresh coat of paint. Your color choice may change if you decided to use a space as a playroom and not an office.
2 | How do you want the space to make you feel?
Think back to the first time you walked into this room. How did it make you feel and what did you notice first? If your first thought was that it felt dark and closed off, this is a good indication that you should choose a lighter paint color. If the room feels bare and uninspiring, this might mean that it needs a little color – not necessarily on the walls, but with your decor.
For example, last year I updated our laundry room and I really wanted it to feel clean and airy. I changed the blue walls to a clean, crisp white and painted the brown cabinets an earthy green. I painted a black and white checkered pattern on the floor which also gave it a clean and modern feel.
If you are not comfortable choosing bold colors, I would suggest keeping the main living spaces a neutral wall color and pepper in color elsewhere. I will dive deeper into this later in the post.
Your wall color acts as the foundation of your space when you are ready to decorate the room. When choosing your paint colors, remember to think about how you want the room to feel. Do you want it moody and cozy? Do you want the space to feel tranquil or give you energy when you walk into the room? These are important questions to ask that will help you create a space that you will love for a long time to come.
Check out my full blog post on designing joyful spaces based on Ingrid Fetell Lee’s 10 Aesthetics of Joy.
3 | Choose Neutral Paint for Main Living Areas
If you struggle to choose the best paint color for your room and are afraid of making a mistake, go neutral! This is the best way to ensure you will not have to paint a room twice, which is NOT fun. A neutral white or gray will give you the perfect blank canvas to begin decorating the room. You can add your personality with artwork, furniture, and textiles.
Popular White Paint Colors
My go-to white paint color is usually Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. It is a beautiful, creamy white that feels warm, but can have a bit of a yellow undertone to it. If you are looking for more of a crisp white, Decorators White by Benjamin Moore is a fantastic option.
- Alabaster by Sherwin Williams
- Decorators White by Benjamin Moore
- Eider White by Sherwin Williams
- Polar Bear by Behr
Best Gray Paint Colors
If your house is full of light and you want a little more of a contrast with gray walls, my absolute favorite gray is Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. It adds a little drama without making a room feel too dark.
- Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore
- Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams
- Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams
- Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams
- Accessible Beige by Sherwin Williams
- Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams
- Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore
4 | Add Personality with Artwork & Accent Decor
The safest way to experiment with color in your home is through accent decor, textiles, and artwork. To be clear, I am not opposed to color on the walls at all, but if you do not have experience with design and are afraid to make a mistake, this is my recommendation. Once you begin to feel more comfortable with styling your home, then I think it’s great to start experimenting with bolder paint colors.
I share this same sentiment with bigger furniture pieces. If you are buying a brand new couch, it’s best to skip the super trendy pattern or color and go with a neutral color. Of course, tans, creams, and grays are neutrals, but dark blues, greens, and other earth-tones are also neutrals.
If you want to experiment with a certain style/color, test it out with accent furniture and textiles, like throw pillows. Another great way to experiment with bold choices is to purchase second-hand items. This will prevent you from making a costly mistake if you decide it isn’t working in the room.
5 | Experiment with Color in the Bathrooms
A great place to experiment with color is in the bathroom. These rooms tend to be smaller, which means fewer walls to paint or repaint if you decide you hate it! The bathroom is where you can apply that dark, moody paint color that you have always wanted to try.
Here is a dark gray in the original bathroom of a 1920’s colonial-style home.
Don’t be afraid of the myth that dark paint colors make a room feel smaller, it is not true! It is a fun element of surprise to go bold in a bathroom or decorate in an unexpected way. I love deep blues like Outerspace by Sherwin Williams or Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore.
I also love bathrooms for testing out wallpaper. It’s a smaller space so it is less expensive than the main living area and you can just shut the door if you don’t like the finished product! Laundry rooms are a great spot to experiment with wallpaper too.
6 | Keep it Simple with the Ceiling & Trim
When we moved into our first two houses, I tried to get fancy with the ceiling and trim colors. Unfortunately, I just got confused and would use the wrong color in the wrong room! Since then I have smartened up and just go with untinted white!
This made my life much less complicated and saved us money because we could use it in every room. Remember to consider the paint sheen when choosing paint colors because it will make a huge difference. The most common ceiling sheen is flat and for baseboards and trim is satin or semi-gloss.
For the walls, the most common sheen is eggshell or satin. I like the eggshell look better, but the satin finish is a little easier to clean, which is preferable with young kids and dogs. The same goes for trim – I like the less shiny look of the satin sheen, but in our current season of life, I choose semi-gloss because it is easier to wipe down!
7 | Take Risks with Color in Bedrooms
Your bedroom should be an expression of who you are and more than ever, how you want it to make you feel! You want to create a space that relaxes you at night and gets you energized in the morning. We have painted our bedrooms with neutral whites/grays and also deep blues that give the feel of a luxury hotel. Hotel rooms are a great place to find inspiration for bedroom design.
For children’s bedrooms, I think it is really important for them to reflect their personalities. But that doesn’t mean that I let them pick any paint color they want! If a child wants a really bold color, try and find a shade that feels classic that won’t go out of style in one year.
For example, my daughter wants pink walls in her room. I am currently looking at pale pinks and deeper pinks – I am steering clear of any neons. The term muddy gets used a lot and I think that is the perfect way to describe any neutral paint color. Muddy greens, blues, pinks, have the darker undertones that ground a space.