When selecting paint colors for a room in your home or business, consider the style of your home (early American colonial, highly decorated Victorian, spare New England saltbox, rugged Southwestern adobe mission style, Spanish villa, et cetera.), your furnishings, art, fabrics all include the colors that make you look good and feel good. Don’t ever try to choose a paint color for an empty room, it is like closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a paint chart! And often prone to serious color errors.

eldorado living room

Eldorado Living Room

Look at the largest pattern in a room for inspiration, such as a patterned wall to wall carpet, or patterned draperies. Try to pull out the base color hue in that item: if you had a light beige background in your carpet pattern with rose colored flowers, green leaves and some other prints, you would most likely want to select a very light rose or beige, sometimes a complimentary light green to coordinate with the green leaves. We often suggest you purchase a color fan and consider a few of the colors, buy a very small sample of paint and paint a small section of the wall near your carpet to determine how well it coordinates. If it doesn’t, you haven’t purchased a large gallon that can’t be returned and you can simply try another small sample.

Designers often need several attempts to find the perfect shade, so using lots of samples is worth the mess on your walls because you will find the perfect color instead of settling for something not- quite right.

Common opinion says bedrooms should be colored to create a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Often we use beige or cream, but that can become boring: placing bright pillows, sheets or quilts on the bed liven up a bland bedroom instantly.

Don’t forget to think about the big picture to give your home continuity (flow). Weave the same colors throughout main spaces; making the dominant color in one room also an accent color in another will pull the rooms together. You’ll be surprised at how different the rooms will look, yet how easily they transition from one to the next.

When you have extra paint leftover, make sure to get the formula (usually a label stuck to the can) so you can have the same exact color shade and hue made for you at a later date.

eldorado living room 1

Eldorado Living Room

In color theory we use this easy reference:  60- 30- 10. That means 60% of the color is your primary color, 30% is your secondary color, and 10% is your accent. Sometimes you can use 5% for interest or an unusual accent, such as colorful artwork or pillows.

Don’t forget to consider any wood or woodwork as color in your percentages. Oaks and tans and chocolate browns can look similar, cherry and mulberry or cranberry are often the same tints; mahogany can make a dark room even darker and need a higher percentage of light colors to open up the room. Color selection is a process, one in which thinking everything through before you select your final color palette is necessary. Sketch a simple drawing and include all the existing items in the room, then using a pencil, write in the possible colors you think would look best coordinated with those existing colors and try pint sized cans of your paint selections until you decide on the best color.

Oh! But don’t become confused by placing wall samples too close together: put your paint sample areas at least 3 feet away from each other so your eyes don’t become distracted.

Professionally decorated rooms have multiple tones of the color scheme in the room. For example: in a green and brown room you would probably want to have a paler green and a stronger green with beiges, taupes, tobaccos, and darker browns incorporated into the room.

eldorado livingroom 2

Eldorado Living Room

When using paint chips, it is difficult to determine how well it will look on your wall; when you paint the wall, you also pick up alternate lighting so the color will often be different than the chip. Also look at the bottom color on the card because it’s the most saturated and helps you determine the color family and undertone.

Often times we think we’ve found the right color on the strip, but by going a step or two lighter, the paler colors are usually more flexible for pairing with other items in your room.

As we all know, the best way to see the true color is in direct sunlight. If you can’t do that, find a bright white halogen lamp to hold the color under.

It doesn’t hurt to test your paint in the naturally lightest and darkest areas of a room to get the best understanding of how the room will look. Paint colors always look darker on the walls than they do in the can, so don’t be surprised by that change.  The lightest color is often used as the background color, but not always. The medium color is often used on large objects such as furniture or window treatments. Our eyes are drawn to darker, more intense colors which is why we use them on accessories – in order to guide the eye through your room.

One of the nicest website assistants for homeowners in paint color coordinating is Sherwin Williams homeowner’s site: they provide an easy selection for color palettes based on certain parameters such as cool and warm colors.  Check out their “coastal cool” for blues and soft seashore colors, “color pizazz” for eclectic colors, and “global spice” for warmer, indulgent colors.

By far the best and easiest way to decorate a room is to copy something you loved in a magazine or design blog: why reinvent the wheel? Especially when some high- end nationally known designer already did the work for the magazine or designers? We usually ask our clients if they saved any photographs or clippings of rooms that inspired them, and we work from those parameters on a budget they can afford to create the same look.

American Olean Avenue One, midnight sky

American Olean Avenue One, Midnight Sky

It is not uncommon to fear strong or unusual color combinations, but the great thing about paint design is we can quickly and inexpensively go over it if we don’t like it. Interesting colors such as navy, add personality if you repeat the combination a couple of times in the room through accessories such as linens.

Most of us choose solid colors for everything large such as carpeting, area rugs, curtains, sofas, throw pillows, then we wonder why our rooms look boring. Add patterns and textures to fabrics and art to bring a room back to life.

However be careful your paint doesn’t knock you down or attack your visual sense upon entering a room. The wall paint should be quiet but tied together nicely with your furniture and fabrics.  Bold colors are better in the small accent pieces or a small chair.

When including draperies in your color palette, there are two schools of thought on selections.  If you want your furniture to stand out, then match the draperies with the furniture; if you want the view out the window to stand out, blend curtains with walls.

A good rule of thumb: neutral walls make room for rich furniture and vibrant art, while colorful walls rest well behind neutral furnishings and accents of similar or complementary colors.

Armstrong hickory floor

Armstrong Hickory Floor