• Color Guide - Decorating

    Choosing a paint color sounds easy, but there are so many possibilities you may find yourself paralyzed with indecision. Here are some thoughts that may help you overcome that paralysis by breaking the task down into some simple questions and tips.

    What colors does the room already have?

    Obviously you want to coordinate the paint on the walls with the colors that are already in the room. This will include the carpet, the curtains, and any furniture. Take note of what colors are represented there. If you have swatches of fabric from the drapes or a bit of the carpet, bring that along when you shop. Your memory of the colors involved may not turn out to be accurate. There are so many different shades and tones.

    Remember that you don't need to match the paint to the predominant colors or to any of the colors. A light rose colored paint for the walls may be the perfect complement for a dusty blue carpet. You may have curtains or a couch that feature a mostly dark green but with hints of plum or apricot. The paint on the walls can bring out that plum or apricot color.

    How dark or light?

    Remember that the darker the paint is, the smaller the room can feel. A color that looks good on a chip or a card can feel oppressive when it dominates an entire wall. You may want to look at the darker colors to give you a good feel for what you're after. Then choose something much lighter in the same family. The walls should hint the colors rather than shout them out.

    Color matching?

    You may have a color that you would like to match exactly. Many paint and home stores can do this for you now. Bring in a swatch of fabric or a paint chip or whatever you want to match and they can mix up a bucket of paint that looks exactly like it. This can even be used when you don't want an exact match but a lighter color of the same sort. Have the store create a custom match for the darker color and then ask them to lighten up that one bucket into several more.

    What's the tone?

    If you're starting from scratch, you can at least narrow your options by deciding what tone you want for the room. Do you want the room to have a warm or cool feel? Warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows set a similar tone in the room. Cool colors like blue and green set a different tone which you may or may not prefer. You may find it helpful in narrowing down your search to decide whether you want to concentrate on warm or cool colors.

    What finish do you want?

    You can have paint in a matte or glossy finish. The glossy finish will reflect more light and can cause the whole wall to gleam and shine. If that seems like more than you want out of your paint, a matte or flat finish will provide a more understated effect. Matte finishes are also better at hiding imperfections in the wall.

    Lighting makes a difference?

    Whenever possible, arrange to view the paint in the same sort of lighting where it will be used. Paint can look very different under incandescent light than under fluorescent. And the bright lights of the home store may give a far different effect than the table lamp in your living room. If you are painting a ceiling, you should especially be aware that ceilings often have a lot of shadows. A lighter color is generally better here.