Choosing the right paint color can be daunting. Some people feel intimidated standing in the home improvement store’s paint department viewing all the racks and racks of color choices, with sample cards as far as the eye can see. To me, there’s nothing more exciting and mesmerizing—it’s honestly one of my favorite things to do (I know, color nerd).  I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm (including my husband who usually wanders off to other areas while I decide what color I should try next!) If you feel overwhelmed choosing a paint color and aren’t sure where to begin, don’t worry. Just follow the tips below and learn to turn your fear into fun.

Look for Inspiration

One of the easiest ways to start your color search is to start with your artwork, vases, throw pillows and other accessories you plan to use in your space. Decorators and designers often base an entire home’s color scheme on one beautiful painting, pillow or area rug. Using this technique can help you create a dynamic color palette, giving your new space a pulled together, finished look.

You can also look to your wardrobe for inspiration. Typically we dress in colors we love and are comfortable with. If you check your closet and see mostly neutral and reserved colors, then chances are you’re not going to want bold, bright color on your walls. On the other hand, if you prefer to dress in bold, bright colors, choose your wall colors carefully. Those high-impact colors you wear may be too dominating for your walls. Adding your favorite strong color as just an accent wall may satisfy that vibrant part of your personality while preventing you from creating a space that feels like it’s “too much.”


If you like changing your home décor frequently, consider choosing neutrals as your main paint choices. You can easily swap colors on accent walls and accessories to freshen your home’s look when you sense that your look is getting tired. That’s much easier than repainting lots of walls, which will just leave you feeling tired.

Test Your Colors

Once you’ve narrowed down your color choice, be sure to get a paint sample and paint it on a sizable section of your wall. If you’ll be choosing a main color and an accent color(s), then paint big sample squares of all your colors next to each other to see if you love the combo as much at home as you did in the store. Live with these paint test squares for a few days. Look at them in as many different lighting situations as possible. One thing you’ll learn from this exercise is that no color will EVER look the same under the store lights as it does at home.

If possible, paint your test square(s) next to a piece of furniture you’ll be using in the room rather than just painting  on a bare wall, especially if the wall is white. White and very light background colors can make your color choice look darker than it really is, so you want to be careful or you’ll end up with color that’s a shade or two lighter than you really wanted once you see it in your finished space. Another thing to watch out for are undertones. All colors have them, even whites. All colors are made from mixtures of other colors, so sometimes just putting a color next to another (even a floor color) can bring out an undertone that makes your color choice look quite different than you imagined.

Paint What You Love

In the end, it’s your space and nobody else’s. Choose colors that make you happy and match your style and your life. Don’t worry what others may or may not like (although you should  consider the feelings of the other people who live with you so everyone will enjoy your home’s color choices—compromise may be necessary to keep everyone content). We should never choose things for our home that we don’t love. Especially color. Adding color on your walls is one of the easiest ways to bring your personality to your space. And, as far as money goes, there’s no bigger bang for your buck.

Paintbrushes With Paint

In the end just remember it’s only a coat of paint. If you just don’t love it like you thought you would, even after all your testing, you can easily paint over it. Don’t let fear of failure keep you living in a big, white box! So, head to the paint department with confidence. Then grab your paintbrushes, rollers, pans and the star of the show—your paint in a color you absolutely love (oh yeah!) —and go forth and breathe some new life into your home!

Now what will you do next to love where you live?