How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color, According to Interior Designers

How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color, According to Interior Designers
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In our “Ask Homepolish” column, a couple of our designers tackle one of those difficult questions: how to choose the right hue for you. With so many beautiful colors, what can you do?

“Dear Homepolish,
How do you choose the right paint color for each room in your home, and what should I think about when it comes to color choices? Does the finish of the paint matter?”

—COLOR ME CONFUSED, SAN DIEGO, CA

Click through our designers’ expert tips in the gallery.

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Los Angeles–based Homepolish designer Haley Weidenbaum piped up right away. "Think of your walls as a blank canvas—tabula rasa! You can keep it blank—think white/off-white paint color—and spruce it up with artwork or wall hangings, OR splash some color on it.

When deciding if you want neutral walls or a color, the best way to start is to decide if the walls are going to be the STARS or are the furniture/accessories going to be the STARS of the room? If you want your furniture to shine, it's best to keep the walls neutral. If you want the walls to pop, don't be afraid of some color. Just keep in mind that if you put color on the wall, you should tie in the room with subtle accessory accents.

No matter the color, here's the rule of thumb for finishes: bathrooms, kitchens, baseboards, and trims = semigloss; bedrooms, living rooms, and other high-traffic areas = eggshell/satin; ceilings, low-traffic areas, and accent walls = matte." She referenced this Chicago bedroom by Guinevere Johnson where the deep-blue walls steal the scene!

Photo: Homepolish

But, on the flip-side, this was a Venice Beach project Haley designed in which the furniture and art were the stars.

Photo: Homepolish

Down in DC, designer Kathleen Mannis weighed in. "The most important thing to do when choosing paint is to test samples! I recommend my clients choose three colors they really love. These can be shades of the same color or different colors altogether.

Paint small swatches on each wall of the room you're considering painting, then live with those colors for a few days. Check on them in the morning, evening, and afternoon—for varying light—and pay attention to how they make you feel. After a day or two, you will have a clear winner. This is a foolproof method for picking the right color for your space.

As far as finishes go, eggshell is always a good and safe option to choose. It's easy to clean and durable. If you want to add a little more drama, pick a matte for the walls and a high gloss for the trim, like in this San Francisco home. This will give your space more depth and interest."

Photo: Homepolish

In New York, designer Will Saks gave some practical advice. "I think gray is a great choice for people afraid to commit to a color. It's a great way to bring a tint of color into a space without wholeheartedly committing.

Like blue? Find a cool gray with blue or lilac undertones. Prefer something warmer? Find a gray that is more brown-based. When all else fails, keep the space white and let your artwork and accessories bring in color. My go-to white? Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White. It is my tried and true—always there for me when I need it."

Photo: Homepolish

He went on: "If you want to go with color in your space, choose a darker, more saturated tone. They are less jarring than a bright color and I find they can really cozy up a space. Think navy blue, hunter green, or slate gray.

You can also skip the walls and paint the ceiling! I worked on a loft in Williamsburg where we left everything white and painted the ceilings an almost black. It was really beautiful and helped to bring out the height of the space."

Photo: Homepolish

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