We’ve all been there…in the paint department, standing at the display drooling over the array of beautiful paint colors. If you’re like me, you’re certain you selected “the perfect color” only to get home, apply your paint and think, “Ugh, this is not the color I chose!” I don’t want you to experience this again, so in this post you’ll learn about five paint selection pitfalls and some truly helpful tips. With this knowledge you can avoid the ugh and bring home the ahhh.

Pitfall #1: Floor color. In simple terms, most colors are formed by a combination of other colors. If your paint color happens to share an undertone with your flooring, that undertone will come out when they are together. So if you chose a gray wall color that has a red undertone (a warm gray) and your flooring has a red undertone, both will suddenly look more red once the paint hits the wall.

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Pitfall #2: Surrounding furniture colors. The same principle above applies to furniture as well as floors. Any time you place colors next to each other, they can and will alter each other’s look. The end result may be subtle or even pleasant, but it’s not always easy to know until you see them in the same space under the same lighting.

Pitfall #3: Adjoining wall color. The impact of nearby color isn’t confined to the same room. If you can see the walls of an adjoining room, the color on those walls may impact how you perceive your new wall color.

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Pitfall #4: Lighting in the store. Color is essentially the reflection of light, so depending on your lighting source, the look and feel of a color can change dramatically. It’s common for a color you love in the store (especially if seen under dreadful fluorescent lights) to look completely different at home in the light of a warm lamp or the natural light through your windows.

Pitfall #5: Lighting in your home. The lighting in your home definitely will have an impact on your paint color depending on the time of day, the amount of natural light versus artificial light, and the type of artificial light in the space.

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Knowing the pitfalls of paint selection is important, but it’s not enough. Bring on the tips…

Tip 1: Don’t forget the samples. Make sure to take sample cards home of the colors you’re considering and hold them next to your furniture and flooring as well as adjoining walls. Once your color choice has passed those tests, go back to the store and buy an inexpensive sample can of your paint color and paint a big section on your wall. It may be scary, but be brave. It’s only paint, which can always be covered with more paint! Watch the color and how it changes at different times of the day and night as your light changes. 

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TIP 2: Online support.  Online programs that allow you to upload a photo of your room and apply a paint color to see the result can be helpful. And no doubt they are fun! However, they don’t allow for you to see how that color may change based on surrounding rooms or how the light changes at different times of day.  Be sure to combine this option with the option of painting a big sample section on your wall to get the most accurate assessment.

TIP 3: Don’t be fooled. If you have an existing color on the wall where you are painting your new sample color, remember to factor in the impact the existing color may have on the new color. It should give you peace of mind to know that the new color will “swallow” the old, so don’t worry about that or let it cloud your judgment.

Choosing colors can seem mysterious. I hope this blog helps remove some of the mystery and adds some magic. So, go forward and paint on!

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