Choosing Paint Colors

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Choosing Paint Colors


“If you start by grabbing stacks of paint chips, you can  easily overwhelm yourself with choices,” says Katie Reynolds, Interior Designer and Ace’s Design Expert from Dallas, TX. “Instead, learn how to zero in on the right color.”

First, ask yourself how you want the room to feel. Focus on identifying which color will create the right mood for your space. Leave decisions about the specific value, tone or shade of a color for later.

  • Calming — Blues, Greens
  • Energetic — Reds, Oranges, Yellows, Pinks
  • Regal — Purple
  • Glamorous — Deeper, warm undertones of any shade
  • Tranquil — Lighter, less saturated versions of any shade
  • Cohesive — Neutrals. Choose a warm or cool undertone to set the mood.

“Choose a color based on how you want the room to feel.”


Once you decide on a color, focus on five or fewer paint chips of that color, based on lightness and brightness.

• Lightness (a.k.a. the color value) is based on how much white is added to the color. White reflects more light, so lighter values create an airy feel. Go 1– 2 shades lighter or darker than furnishings or flooring, depending upon the mood you want to create.

• Brightness is about the intensity or saturation of the color. White isn’t diluting the color so it absorbs light. The result is a sense of energy in a room.  Look for undertones of other colors, too. Holding a blue chip up on its own, you may not notice if it has a subtle purple tone.  But once it’s up on a large expanse of walls, that subtle hint of another hue will be amplified. To detect these hues, hold the chip next to your furnishings, inspiration pieces or contrasting colors to see what comes through.



“ Light reflection,room size and surrounding colors affect a color’s appearance”

“Sometimes a color looks great in a friend’s house, or even in the store, but seems different on your walls,” says Julie Richard, Interior Designer and Ace’s Design Expert from Boston, MA. “Before you choose colors to test, it helps to understand what affects color’s appearance, so you can picture how it will look in your home.”

• Glossy sheens and surfaces reflect more light. Color will appear a touch more vibrant. Adjacent Color

• Surrounding objects and surfaces can make a color pop, recede or can draw out undertones of other colors. Room Size

• Deep, dark values and brighter color are amplified — in a large room because there’s so much more of it and in a small room because it will bounce around.

• With high ceilings, you can go bolder without feeling closed in. Lighting

• Eastern and southern facing rooms get the most sunlight. Colors seem brighter and warmer.

• In northern or western facing rooms, the color temperature runs cooler. Tones of blue and green come through more.

• When daylight fades, color changes even more with artificial lighting. Paint your test color on the walls and look at it with the shades and blinds wide open. You’ll see the color in its brightest state of intensity. You’ll notice which tones come through the strongest.



“When your colors are harmonious, your new look becomes about so much more than a coat of paint,” says Nathan Fischer, Interior Designer and Ace’s Design Expert from Orange County, CA. “It signals the occupants to be at ease and stimulates talking and engagement.” Use these tips to create balance with 1–2 complementary colors for the room:

• Balance Color Proportions — Walls or cabinetry should make up about 60 percent. Floor, window coverings or ceilings make up 30 percent. Accent items make up 10 percent.

• Try Pre-selected Colors — Brochures with color combinations that work together are usually chosen by designers. Your work is done for you!

• Look to Nature — Look outdoors for examples of colors working together as dominant and accent colors. You can’t go wrong choosing a palette that’s inspired by your surroundings.

• Try a Color Wheel — Choose colors opposite one another, side-by-side, or in different values of the same color for a complete look.

• Draw Inspiration from a Prized Item — Choose a dominant color and 1–2 complementary colors from a textile, work of art or even a piece of jewelry you love.

“ Notice how colors work together in your favorite objects or your surroundings.”


For more helpful tips, visit your neighborhood Ace, or find us online at
Published: 1/28/2020