Tips for Choosing Interior Paint Colors

  • 01 of 15

    Choosing Interior Paint Colors Is Easier Than You Think

    Living room painted greige
    Hero Images/Getty Images

    The easiest way to choose the best interior paint colors is to start with colors you love. When you start with the colors you love, you are not bound by the traditional color schemes for a particular decorating style. Using your own favorite color as your base color, you can use it to create a color scheme around it. Your favorite colors can be the perfect inspiration for your new color palette.

    Here's how to find out what your favorite color means, and how you can decorate with it.

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  • 02 of 15

    Find Paint Color Inspiration

    Living room with teal walls and green accents
    Shades of Light

    Magazines and catalogs have always been the staple of decorating inspiration. We're lucky that now we have thousands of pages of inspiration on the internet. Retailer sites can be inspiring with their room vignettes, paint company sites can also show you ways to use color in your home. Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram offer color inspiration that is refreshed in real time. Pinterest is great for creating inspiration boards for your favorite ideas, so you can keep all your ideas in one spot. 

    Stunning teal living room from Shades of Light.

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  • 03 of 15

    Use Color Theory to Create a Color Scheme

    Bright living room and dining room and kitchen with cream walls
    Blend Images/Blend Images/Getty Images

    You don't have to study color theory to get great ideas from a little color wheel. These inexpensive color tools can generate color scheme ideas quickly. With a turn of the wheel, you can see how colors might relate to each other, and learn the basics of color theory. While you probably won't be painting your home in the exact colors you see on the wheel, you can choose shades of those colors at your favorite paint store.

    It's easy to use a color wheel to create a color scheme once you learn a few easy concepts.

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  • 04 of 15

    Get Creative With Neutral Paint Colors

    Showcase Home Interior looks inviting.
    Patti McConville / Getty Images

    Just because you choose neutral paint colors doesn't mean they have to be laid back. You can rev up your neutral color palette by being creative with how the colors are used. A striped wall in neutral colors adds tons of style but still keeps the room looking relaxed. Neutral wall color with a pastel ceiling is a sneaky way to add color without losing the soothing vibe of the space.

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  • 05 of 15

    Pull Your Paint Color From a Print

    Brightly colored bed spread
    Wayfair.com

    One of the easiest ways to choose interior paint color is to start with a print fabric. Throw pillows, bedding, and even table linens can provide you with paint color ideas. If you're creating an accent wall, look to the boldest colors in the print. If you would like to choose a paint color that is more subtle or for a larger space, look at the color in the small details of your print fabric. Take a fabric swatch to the paint store so you can choose paint strips to view at home.

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  • 06 of 15

    Look Outside for Ideas

    Green walls in a dining room/office space
    Zia Soleil/Iconica/Getty Images

    Bringing the outside in is a popular inspiration for color schemes. Whether you choose foliage green or the laid-back blues of the beach, exterior-inspired colors schemes are meant to be restful and relaxing. Be sure to sample your favorite paint colors at all times of the day and night, and with the window treatments closed and open to get the most realistic view of your possible choices.

    If you're going to use your landscape as inspiration, you'll need to know the dos and don'ts of decorating with green.

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  • 07 of 15

    Find You Paint Color in Artwork

    Living room with brown furniture, neutral walls, and two abstract paintings
    Spaces Images/Getty Images

    An interior designer's secret is choosing colors from artwork in your home. Most artists are masters of color and light,  creating their own color schemes for their pieces. You can benefit from their insight by choosing colors from a favorite piece of art. You can also choose complimentary colors from the same work of art, to create a color scheme.

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  • 08 of 15

    Look to Historical Color Inspiration

    Yellow wall with black furniture and curtains
    Benjamin Moore

    Just because you love Craftsman color schemes doesn't mean you have to decorate in a Craftsman style. Historical paint colors are offered by many of the paint industry leaders. Use these collections as inspiration and tailor them to your own decorating style. 

    Benjamin Moore's Damask Yellow is a rich and warm wall color that would work well in a variety of decorating styles including Craftsman and Mid-Century Modern.

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  • 09 of 15

    Try a Lighter or Darker Shade

    Dark grey walls with green chairs in a sitting room
    Sherwin-Williams

    Sometimes all you need is a little adjustment to find the right interior paint color. Before you abandon your paint color choice too quickly, consider a lighter or darker shade of the same color. Many paint colors appear on a paint strip in gradual shades, but you can also ask your paint store to customize it by percentages of light or dark shades.

    Sherwin-Williams Muddied Basil.

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  • 10 of 15

    How to Use Undertones to Find Your Perfect Paint Colors

    Green sofa with floral pillows
    Wayfair

    You can be unpleasantly surprised by the undertones when choosing interior paint colors. Simply explained, undertones are the colors lurking beneath your favorite paint color. A simple beige may not be all that simple if it has a strong green undertone. The only way to accurately read how an undertone will appear in your home is to sample the color. Undertones from other surfaces in your room can also change the way your paint appears due to reflection, so sampling is essential. 

    Learn how undertones work, and why it matters when you're choosing interior paint colors.

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  • 11 of 15

    Do Your Homework Before Shopping

    Bedroom interior. 3d illustration
    Stockernumber2 / Getty Images

    Choosing the right interior paint color starts at home. Before you head to the paint store to gather paper samples, gather inspiration from catalogs and magazines, and fabric swatches. This will keep you from grabbing too many paint color options on your first trip to the store. The hardest part of choosing paint color, at first, is having too many options.

    Once you narrow down your paint color choices, return to the store for paint color samples to try at home. This step is crucial to finding the perfect color.

    Before you head out to choose paint, this is what you should never do at the paint store

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  • 12 of 15

    Sample Your Paint Colors Before Committing

    Woman holding paint roller and examining blue paint samples on living room wall
    Echo / Getty Images

    This is a simple rule that should never be ignored. Always sample any paint color you're considering. When you are committing gallons of paint and hours to your project, you have to get the color right the first time. You don't want to skip this step. If you look at the back of the paint store, there are stacks of cans of returned paint from people that did not take the time to sample first. Don't be one of them.

    Remember, sampling paint colors is the most important step in finding the right colors for your home.​

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  • 13 of 15

    How to Flow Color Throughout Your Home

    View from living room into kitchen
    Astronaut Images/Getty Images

    If you're decorating a small home, flowing paint color throughout the rooms can give the illusion of a larger space. Flowing paint color through your home can also create a relaxing vibe. The most stunning way to use flowing color is to choose a neutral paint color that will be your signature hue for your home. Each room can have its own accent colors, or you can use the same accent colors in different amounts in each room. Keep flooring similar from room to room, and consider molding to tie everything together.

    Did you choose the wrong paint color?

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  • 14 of 15

    Use a Color Consultant

    North London Victorian conversion
    Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

    If you would like a new color scheme and aren't sure which interior paint colors to choose, a color consultant can point you in the right direction. A color consultant can provide you with paint color ideas to sample, or even a custom-designed color palette for your home. 

    Before you meet with your color consultant, gather ideas and inspiration to share with them so that they can see what you have in mind. Ask if your consultant can visit at a particular time so that they can see the challenges that the natural lighting poses for your space. Don't be surprised if your color consultant suggests changes to your lighting to correct color problems in the room.​​​

    Steal these secrets of a color consultant.

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  • 15 of 15

    Paint Color Apps Can Make Choosing Paint Color Easier

    Blue bathroom
    Sherwin-Williams

    Choosing paint color can be easier with the use of a phone or tablet app. Paint color apps have been evolving and improving since they were first released, so you might want to check them out again if you've tried one in the past and it didn't work for you. 

    The most popular paint color apps give you the ability to match a color you see anywhere, as long as the phone or tablet camera can read it. Though it may not be an exact match, these apps can suggest similar colors. The best apps can also offer color palettes created around your color, and ways to share your palettes with friends on social media. Look for extra tools like paint buying tips, and basic DIY videos.

    Here are the seven paint color apps you need to check out