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12 Helpful Tips for Choosing Paint Colors for Your Home

To some, choosing paint colors is an exciting way to express creativity and liven up the home. But to others, it can feel overwhelming. Why are there so many options? How do you know which colors look good together? Where do you even begin?

If you fall into the second camp, you’re not alone. But choosing paint colors for your home doesn’t have to be so hard.

Below, we’ve broken down everything to consider so you can feel confident in your paint selection. Keep reading to find everything you need to know!

choosing paint colors

1. Think About Your Design Style

First and foremost, it’s helpful to hone in on your design style. Although this won’t always dictate the best paint colors, it may help influence them.

For example, a boho style lends itself to pops of bold colors. In contrast, a coastal style utilizes more natural tones you’d find at the beach, such as neutrals and shades of blue or green. Both industrial and Scandinavian styles focus on neutral colors, but they use those colors to create two very different feels.

With that said, understanding your design style can be a helpful first step in choosing paint colors.

2. Choose a Cool Tone or a Warm Tone

Deciding whether you want a warm-toned or a cool-toned home is a great next step in choosing paint colors. Sometimes, your design style will lead you in one direction or the other, but it’s ultimately up to you!

Reds, yellows, and oranges are typically considered warm, while blues, greens, and purples are typically considered cool. But undertones matter, too! For example, beige will make your home feel warm because of its yellow undertones, and gray is often cooler because of its blue or purple undertones.

And even though you don’t have to choose just one or the other, sticking to colors within the same family will help your home feel more cohesive.

3. Don’t Limit Yourself to Just One Color

Just because you want your home to feel cohesive doesn’t mean you have to choose just one color!

Choosing a paint color palette will open up more options and allow you to be more creative. A good rule of thumb is to choose three colors that complement each other (or five if you’re feeling really bold).

For example, you could pick neutrals with a bold accent color, a monochromatic palette (a range of shades of the same color), or complementary colors (which are opposite each other on the color wheel).

choosing paint colors

4. Consider Textures and Finishes When Choosing Paint Colors

When you choose a paint color, you’ll also need to select a finish for that paint color. Thinking about finishes ahead of time can help you feel more confident when making a decision. Plus, you may realize that while you like one color when it’s matte, the same color in a glossy finish just isn’t for you.

  • Flat or Matte – Flat and matte paints are popular for their muted look. They essentially offer no shine.
  • Eggshell – An eggshell finish falls between matte and satin, and its middle-ground feel makes it one of the most popular paint choices. It has a hint of sheen, but it certainly won’t be called shiny.
  • Satin – Satin paint falls between eggshell and semi-gloss. It appears shiny in many lights, but it can look more matte if there’s less light.
  • Gloss – Gloss paint colors are glossy, just as you’d expect. They reflect more light than other finishes, revealing a shiny finish often used on trim, cabinets, and other accent areas. These finishes can be broken down further into gloss, semi-gloss, and high gloss.

For more information, read our Ultimate Guide to Paint Finishes.

5. Maximize Your Space

An important design trick that interior designers turn to is using color to make a room feel bigger or smaller.

Colors That Make Rooms Feel Bigger

Generally speaking, lighter colors will make your space appear larger. This is because they reflect more light, which causes the room to feel more open. If this is important to you, consider using paint colors like white, gray, light blue, yellow, or beige.

Even though light colors usually make a room feel bigger, adding just the right amount of contrast with accents can make your room seem bigger, too. Accent walls add a focal point that attracts the eye and makes everything feel lighter. Additionally, dark walls with light floors, ceilings, and trim can make a space look taller.

Colors That Make Rooms Feel Cozier

On the flip side, if you want to make a large room feel cozier, do just the opposite! Dark colors like navy make walls appear closer. This is particularly useful if you have a long room or hallway that just doesn’t feel quite right.

6. Use Color Psychology to Your Advantage

If you’ve dabbled in interior design or color psychology, you may already know that different colors can evoke different feelings. When choosing paint colors for your home, you can use color psychology to create the perfect ambiance for every room.

For example, blue has been associated with calmness and serenity, making it a popular choice for interior design. Whether you want bedrooms to feel more peaceful or to extend that feeling into communal spaces like your living room, it’s a great choice.

choosing paint colors

Yellow, on the other hand, can spark happiness. Consider it for your kitchen or bathrooms.

Green reminds people of nature, so it can help a room feel fresh and rejuvenating. This makes it another good choice for bedrooms, bathrooms, and other spaces.

7. Choose Paint Colors that Complement the Details

When choosing paint colors, it’s important to consider all the details in your home. Whether it’s the finishes (like knobs and handles), furniture, decor, floors, or even trim, you’ll want to ensure you like how everything looks together.

If you’re unsure how to tie it together, think back to the undertones. For example, a grey couch and silver finishes are cool and may work best with cooler paint colors. Alternatively, warm wood furniture and brass finishes may work best with warmer tones.

8. Use Neutrals to Your Advantage

Neutral colors are classic for a reason. They seemingly work with everything, giving you the backdrop to create a space that’s everything you want. But there are even better ways to use them to your advantage.

Neutrals as a Blank Canvas

Neutrals can act as a blank canvas that allows the rest of your home to shine! Want to keep the interest elsewhere, like on art or vintage furniture? Or want to add a pop of color to your cabinets without overwhelming the space with color? Using neutral colors as the base for your walls allows you to do all that and more.

Know the Difference Between Whites

Unfortunately, choosing a neutral paint color isn’t so easy. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of shades of whites, beiges, and grays, and they start to blend together quickly.

When in doubt, try to identify the undertone, and consider how light or dark you want to go. A warm white with a beige undertone will feel very different from a cool gray with a blue undertone. As always, think about the rest of your space, color choices, and design style to help guide you to the right color.

9. Take Advantage of Architectural Features

Suppose your home has architectural features like wainscotting, wall molding, fireplaces, or rustic beams. In that case, you may feel like they limit your design options. But what if you use paint colors to bring them into your design instead of working around them?

Using contrasting colors, like dark walls against light wainscotting, can help highlight these unique features. Alternatively, using just one color for plain walls or ceilings and intricate molding can help create a seamless, elegant feel.

No matter how you work with these features, remember they’re an important part of your home, too!

choosing paint colors

10. Add a Pop of Color with Accents

Accents are a great way to create interest, liven up your space, and introduce new colors into your home’s color palette.

The key to accents is to stay moderate. Still, you can introduce accents into your home, whether you paint an accent wall, cabinets, or door.

For more inspiration on adding accents to different parts of your home, visit our pages about Kitchen Cabinet Paint Colors and Garage Door Paint Ideas.

11. Use Ceilings as a Canvas, Too

White is a popular choice for ceilings, but that doesn’t mean you must follow the norm!

Like using wall colors to create space, choose a paint color for your ceiling with the same effect. Painting your ceiling darker can make your room feel cozier and more intimate, whereas painting them lighter opens up more space.

Or, consider an accent color on the ceiling. It may be the finishing touch your home needs, especially if the rest of the walls are neutral.

Check out our post about The Best Ceiling Paint for even more recommendations.

12. Search for Inspo if You’re Stuck

If you’re still unsure how to choose paint colors that are right for you, look to other examples for inspiration! Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, blogs, and even magazines (yes, those still exist) have plenty of interior design ideas that may be just what you’re looking for.

Wrapping Up How to Choose Paint Colors

Choosing paint colors can feel like a daunting task. After all, there are so many choices, and how do you know what will look best? Hopefully, this guide gave you some tips and ideas to get you started.

If you’re looking for more, check out our Paint Colors page for tons of ideas and inspiration!