How To Choose The Right Paint Color

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had people come to my house and tell me they don’t know how to choose the right paint color. I thought I would share 2 tips that helped me paint every room of my house when we purchased it. I will tell you that every room in my house has a different color. This is not necessary. Some people can only handle 1 or 2 colors in their entire house. That is OK, just make sure to stay in your comfort zone, but consider pushing a little outside of your comfort zone when it comes to choosing the color.

First and foremost do not be afraid of color. White walls are out. There I said it. If you don’t want to paint each room a different color then pick a neutral that will blend well. What do I mean by neutral? A neutral is a color that if you were to add any other color to the room it would compliment.

Compliment does NOT mean match. Compliment means that if you were to add a different color to the room, would the neutral color add value to your color choice? Your neutral should add value to your pop color in the room. If you feel the color you like as a neutral that will deter from a pop color you are considering, then it may not be the right neutral for you.

A perfect neutral, I always tell people to consider is, taupe or mushroom. There are so many shades of taupe and mushroom, that you can go really light or really dark, and it will still stay your neutral.

Here are my 2 tried and true room paint color picking techniques:

Mood: Think of the vibe you want the room to exude. For example: you are doing an office and you want to choose a color. When all is said and done, when you walk in that office what do you want to feel upon entering? Do you want it to feel energetic or serene or something else altogehter?  When you pick the mood in your mind, what color do you automatically associate with that mood?

After you’ve decided on the mood, and then the color you feel represents that mood, begin to think of the shade of that color you would like. Do you want it to be a super bold color, or just a muted version of the color? Do not be afraid of going bold on your color. Colors have an amazing affect on our moods, so consider that as a guiding place for picking your shade, just as much as the choice of the color.

Textile: If you have a very unique textile in a room that has some amazing color(s), consider taking that with you to the paint aisle and matching the color [or 1 of the colors] in the textile to the paint. Don’t be worried about how bright the color is in the textile. Let the wall be the stand out in color if that is the color you truly love. The textile doesn’t have to have many shades to use to match to a wall. Maybe you have a curtain that has a white background and a tiny cobalt blue flower. You can match your walls to that flower even though that’s the only color in the drapery.

Here’s an example of how I used both tips above in one room simultaneously: When I was considering what I wanted my room to look like I decided that I wanted it to have a serene spa like feel. I knew that a blue shade (think water), would be a great way to get that feeling.  The room had to also stay very clean looking. In this case I had to think of the times I’ve been to a spa and the feeling I get there. I began to look for a bedding set that had a soft blue/turquoise within it. Once I found my bedding set I brought one of the pillows with me to the paint aisle and matched that paint exactly. The affect was exactly how I imagined it. Whenever I walk in my room that blue washes over me, in a very soft way.

Additionally if you have an en suite bathroom or attached sitting room there is a way to make the room flow without having only one color. Many paint brands have 2 to 4 paint colors per chip (chip is the little paper you pick up), that are variations on the saturation of that color. Considier picking a shade lighter or darker for an attached or adjacent room. I went with the 1 shade lighter then my bedroom for my bathroom, and it has a perfect flow. I love that color so much so, that I used it in my laundry room too.

Please remember this as well: When you paint a room a color whether bold or muted it does not mean you cannot bring any other colors into the room. Every color in the color wheel has a complimentary color. Your accessories don’t have to all be that one color on the walls. As a matter of fact it is OK for the color on the wall to be the only shade of that color in the room.

In other words let’s say you chose to do your living royal blue. You decided that the mood (see mood above) you wanted to portray in your living room meant a royal blue color, but you don’t own anything royal blue. Do not worry go with that paint color. When you go to decorate the room consider using oranges and yellows for pop, or for neutrals you could use every shade of brown. Soft greens will also complimpent that blue very well. Allowing the wall to be the only blue in the room to achieve the mood you want is perfectly fine.

Remember this: It is alright to paint a room, and hate it. The best part is that you can paint over it. If you’re not sure about the color you’ve chosen paint one wall to get used it. R & I tell everyone we don’t like our living room color. Everyone thinks it’s fine, but we don’t. We intend to repaint the living room eventually. Don’t put so much pressure to find the right color only once. You’ll see that once you take the pressure off to get the “right” color you actually will find the right color.

Now go out to that paint/hardware store and pick out some paint. Stop living with drab walls.

Do you have any questions on how to pick color for a room you want to re-do? I many tips and tricks to help make the process a little easier. Don’t worry I’ll share them all in due time.

About Fashionista

Candice Kahn has written 808 post in this blog.

Candice is a mom of 3 in Los Angeles, CA, and the Owner/Editor-in-Chief of Fashionably Organized. Her obsession with researching products to get the right price, has made her the go-to shopping guru for her friends. Here she writes about fashion, beauty and shares her love for home decor and DIY. In 2012 she began CB Media Solutions her company that offers brands and clients professional virtual assistance and social media consulting.




  1. SO needed to read this.
    I loved the color of my dining room when we painted it, but quickly realized it was too dark for the space. I’m debating repainting or just adding a lighter color on the top or bottom of the chair rail. Thoughts?

    • I would say re-paint altogether. Think of it as a type of re-decorating. You’ll find something you love just as much.

  2. Following from Buzz on By Thursday! Am loving your site! :)
    Would love for you to stop by !

  3. This is a great post! I love all your in depth suggestions. You should be an interior designer. Now I need to go paint!

    • Marisa,
      That is so sweet of you. One of the many different jobs I wish I could do one of them is to be an interior designer, but alas, I will settle for being a woman who loves interior design. However, if someone wants to hire me I’m always available. 😀 Thanks for coming by.

  4. Great post Candice! It takes me FOREVER to pick out a just the right “shade” even though my husband can’t tell the difference!

  5. Getting ready to paint my boys rooms – thanks for the great advice!

  6. I love these tips, especially the tip that it’s ok to not like a color after putting it up. We made the mistake of picking a color we loved and then selling our couch….so we had to find a new couch that coordinated with the green walls. :)

    • OMG you crack me up about finding the right couch. The problem w/our LR is that our couches are very neutral beige and then we painted the walls a different shade of beige. We desperately need color in the room. We just got a rug and it has a beautiful blue in it, that I believe we’re going to match (not exactly, but that family). Thanks for stopping by.

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