How to Choose Paint Colors 101

Old 10-28-04, 10:46 AM
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Thumbs up How to Choose Paint Colors 101

Hello and welcome to!!!

I've been around here for several years now, and I've noticed that, by far, the most often-asked question is, "What color should I paint my room?" And, more often than not, the person hasn't selected any bedding yet, or upholstery pieces, or area rugs, or draperies, or anything for the room. This is the FIRST thing they're concerned with in their decorating effort.


This really puzzles me! I can't imagine why anyone would want to saddle themselves with one color right off the bat, thereby limiting every other choice for the room's decor. I'm sure their reasoning is that it's easier to paint when the room is empty, but it's completely the reverse of how a room should come together. When shopping for clothing, do you buy a belt first and then set out to find an entire outfit to go with it???? NO!!!!

You should be selecting the main furnishings for the room first. The primary reason for this is simple: choices for fabrics, upholstery pieces, bedcoverings, area rugs, etc are very limited. They're limited by what's available to you in your area, what will work with other existing elements in your home, and mostly by budget. You can have an "idea" of what color you want for the walls, but decide on these harder-to-find items first, and THEN pull the specific wall color from those pieces. Paint, on the other hand, is available at any hardware store, any day of the week, all year long, in everyone's price range, in ANY imaginable color you could ever want - literally!

Unless you're the luckiest person in the world (and YOU people really annoy me!!! ), this is how your decorating efforts will probably pan out, IF YOU PAINT FIRST:

You decide, for example, to paint your family room walls a wonderful sage color (everything goes with sage, right?!). It turns out just like you'd pictured in your mind and you love it. Now - to find a sofa! Off to the furniture stores you go.....hmmm.....what are you looking for? A floral? A plaid? The hunt becomes more difficult and frustrating. Now, you're just hoping to find ANYthing with your specific color of sage in it! Maybe you decide to settle for a solid. But, what color? And don't forget, you've got to find one in a style you like and in your price range. And, if you're like me, you've got maybe 4 furniture stores in your town that carry furniture in your price range. Good luck!

Okay, since that didn't work out, you decide to look for an area rug. Off to the rug stores you go......what are the odds that you're going to find an area rug with the exact color of sage? Slim! You'll probably find one close, But- oooh! -if only your sage walls were slightly less olivey-sage and more blueish-sage! Dang! The perfect area rug, and it was on sale (of course!) but you HAD to paint first!

See where i'm going with this?

Bottom line: your walls should not be the focus of ANY room (except maybe a tiny little powder room!). The focus should be on the furnishings, and the wall color should only be a background that compliments & enhances everything else, like the mat on a framed picture. You want people to walk in and say, "Wow! I love your house!" And then later, if asked what color your walls were, say, "Hmmm.....I don't remember - but their living room was really fabulous!"

Well, I hope I've made my point and this helps some of you, or at least gives you something to think about. It seems that a lot of you are making decorating harder than it has to be. Simply find something that can be your inspiration for the room, and build around it, while planning ahead for how your decisions in one room will affect your choices for the adjoining room/s.

Then, if you still have questions, feel free to post them here, and I (along with other Moderators and countless other Members!) will try to help you! That's what we're here for and we welcome your questions! To help us better help you, please be sure to include detailed information about any colors used in adjoining rooms, current flooring and woodwork (stained or painted), the style and mood you're wanting to achieve, and (believe it or not, this is important!) whether you're a guy, gal, couple or family!

And just remember - YOU are the only one who knows what you like, and you're the only who has to like it, so when you want it done right, Do It Yourself!

Last edited by Annette; 10-27-06 at 02:49 PM.

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