Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color

Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comI figured it was time for a Designer Trick post! Hands down, the most common question I’m asked is, “what paint color is that?” and while it’s a totally valid question- just because a color looks great in your home, doesn’t mean it will in mine (and vice versa). Color takes on its surroundings. While choosing a paint color might seem daunting for some, it’s really not too difficult once you know what you’re doing. Click through for five designer hacks for choosing the perfect paint color!


Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comYes- you read that right. As tempting and convenient as it is to move into a new home or slap some paint on the walls of any empty room, step away from the brush and reconsider. For me, and 99% of my designer friends- painting is one of the last steps in completing a room. Why? You need to know a room really well to make an educated color choice… what type of light it gets, how it reflects, what lives within the room, etc. Read on for more clarity on this topic…


Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comWhether you have a gorgeous piece of artwork or an exceptionally beautiful textile (like the vintage rugs I love so much), use that statement piece as a jumping off point. I grab my swatches and pull color directly from an object, which ensures the room will look cohesive once it’s all said and done. For example, I love the gray green neutrals in the vintage rug in my entryway. If I were choosing a paint color for that space, I’d color match as closely as I could.


Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comBefore painting our bathroom, I ordered multiple blue swatches. Once they arrived, I applied them to the wall and lived with them for a good week. Examine how the color changes throughout the day, if it takes on a warm or cool hue, and how it plays in the space. Choosing paint colors isn’t a super fast process.


Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comSome rules were meant to be broken… and paint is one of those. Just because you don’t see a swatch or it isn’t exactly perfect- change it. Did you know that you can customize a swatch? You can mix paint, have it desaturated by requesting a specific percentage, you can have them add more of a color (more blue for a cooler look, etc). Don’t be afraid to play around with it until you’re 100% satisfied. It’s also perfectly fine to mix and match. The easiest way to do this is by using colors of different shades on the same swatch. For example, in my guest bathroom– I used SW-6225 Sleepy Blue on the walls and SW-6226 Languid Blue on the door. Using a couple different shades adds depth while keeping things monochromatic and sophisticated.


Designer Trick : Choosing the Perfect Paint Color - roomfortuesday.comThere are a bunch of brands out there. I’m partial to Sherwin-Williams, but find one you like, learn about the products, and make educated selections. There is always a specific paint for each project. I hate extra steps, priming, and prefer my paint to be highly cleanable- so I use Emerald Interior. I know exactly how the finishes look, I know it’s super durable, and I know one coat usually does the trick… no primer needed. Knowing what paint is best for your project will save you time and give you the best look.

Remember- paint isn’t permanent and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to transform a room. If for some reason you don’t land on the perfect color or you finish painting and realize it isn’t for you… THAT’S OK. I promise. We’ve all been there and done that. Laugh about it, paint again, and learn as you go. Any other paint picking questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Here’s to a great week!

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  1. Funny. I was just thinking about paint colors. My friend bought a house in January with lovely neutral gray walls; she’s been busy furnishing her place-not painting. When I bought my house 13 years ago (time flies!), it had sponge-painted walls and ummm… lots of “cabin” wallpaper and trim. Imagine hunting scenes, cattails, dancing bears and rough wood accent walls.😱 So, can there be an emergency exemption to the paint last rule? Also, then I’d miss the hours of searching for a vintage rug with just the right colors! I definitely test paint swatches and custom tweak colors though, I’m not a total rule-breaker!
    Happy back-to-work Monday! Hope your weekend was fab!

    1. Smart friend! I can’t even begin to visualize your house when you moved in. Hahaha!! That sounds crazy. I definitely think there is an emergency exemption rule- I would’ve covered that up first. lol!

  2. This is a perfectly timed post for me–we were just talking about paint colors for our master bedroom/bathroom renovation! Speaking of which…do you feel like the room your painting has a bearing on the colors you choose? Wanting a bed/bath to feel relaxing, calm, or spa-like versus a family room feeling cozy? Does the overall style or feel of your home play a part too?

    I tend more toward cooler colors for bedrooms and bathrooms..blues and grays, mostly. Curious on your thoughts!

    1. Great question Emily! I definitely feel like the function of the room you’re painting influences the paint selection. That was a big reason I went with blue in my guest bathroom. The overall aesthetic of your home also plays a part… you want it to feel cohesive. No one room should stand out or feel like it doesn’t belong. Hopefully that helps to answer your question? That was a good one! :)

  3. I’d love to know your thoughts on paint colors for a room with zero light – my laundry room is completely surrounded by other rooms, so it gets NO natural light. The floors are black slate, trim and doors will be white, there’s a lot of white cabinetry, appliances are a charcoal grey and I’m adding a walnut butcher block countertop. I am very, VERY tempted to just go with it and paint the walls black. I’m typically not afraid of dark colors (my bedroom is a dark navy, SW Anchors Aweigh) but this one is making me hesitate for some reason.

    1. I vote yes!! It sounds like there is plenty of lighter colors to balance out the dark, and if you like high contrast- that idea sounds stunning :) The wood will also help to warm it up. Sounds gorgeous, in my opinion!

  4. Well said. Ms Sarah (and hello to you and Emmett). We did just that when we moved into our new home 14 months ago. I will say, however, that my paints of choice come either from Benjamin Moore (including Ben’s, which is the only version I can get my hands on locally) or Behrs. I’ve tried many other brands over the years…and shed many a tear as a result. These two brands have saved my sanity more than once.

    1. Hi Ardith! I hope you’re having a good week :) I love that you have two brands you use and love. Once you know what works best for you- stick with it! Do you feel really settled having lived there for 14 months now?

  5. Very helpful! What do you consider the shelf life of paint to be? Basically, how long can it sit in my basement before it’s no good. I generally keep my half-used cans of paint for touch-ups and, like you said, for other rooms if my first attempt doesn’t work out so well. Also, any environmentally friendly suggestions for disposing of paint and paint cans?

    1. Great questions Sarah! As long as the paint is sealed tightly and stored in a cool, dry place… it can last 8+ years! Isn’t that crazy? We still have paint from our very first renovation and I used it recently and it was fine. For disposing of paint, I always take my empty cans and leftovers to Sherwin-Williams and they recycle them for me. I feel better about doing that than hauling them off to the landfill with the “toxic” materials. Hope this helps!

  6. I would love a post on tips for selecting exterior paint colors! I am fairly confident on picking interior colors, but exterior always throws me for a loop. I always get samples and paint swatches either way, but I feel like it’s way easier to misstep choosing a color with exterior than interior!

    1. Great post idea, Holly! I definitely agree… exterior paint is so much more difficult than selecting interior swatches. It’s just SO bright and greenery / landscaping always influences the color more than expected. I’ll add that one to the calendar :) xo

      1. I was really scared to pick the exterior colors for our new mountain home surrounded by woods. I happened upon a picture in a magazine or online that looked perfect to me… and similar to our build. The article listed the color names which I found to be “grey” names but the picture looked green (dark sage green). So I truted the picture and used the exact same two colors. It’s turning out perfectly…they are painting now. I would never have gravitated to those on the swatch probably due to the name since I wanted more of a green tone. I had also driven around neighborhoods looking for colors I liked and had even asked the owners to share the colors.

        1. So happy to hear that, Sue! I bet it’s beautiful.

  7. Would you follow the paint last rule in a large open concept area where you might not have one statement piece? My living, dining, kitchen, entry are all open to each other so there will likely be multiple pieces of art, rugs, etc. Maybe window treatments would be the only consistent piece? Would you try to find a consistent piece or one statement piece to pull a color from for that entire area or just choose a neutral? My walls are all primed and I’ve got like 10 versions of greige samples up everywhere but none of them are striking me as “it”!

    1. Hi Jaylyn, it’s really a personal preference. Check out this post on designing and styling open concept spaces. Often times those types of spaces are painted the same neutral so it flows in a cohesive way and works nicely with lots of the vignettes in the room. I’d say finding a bright neutral is your best best since you have four rooms in one, then bring in color in other ways!

  8. Great article. What are your thoughts on painting the whole interior the same color? We moved into our house a year ago and the whole house is the same color. The color looks slightly different in the various rooms due to lighting etc. I’m thinking of painting the whole house in a very pastel blue. The tile is the same throughout the house. It looks like sun bleached driftwood.