How to Choose

Paint Color

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There are many factors to consider when selecting color for a project.

Influence of Color

Knowing how color is commonly used in design projects is a helpful approach to choosing a paint color. Design professionals constantly monitor the latest research on psychological and physiological responses to color to create effective and stimulating design. As you think about your project, consider the following uses of color.

The strongest energy of any color, red is best used in rooms that require interaction, such as dining rooms, where it is thought to stimulate the appetite. Red also adds drama to dens, hallways and powder rooms.

Often considered the most social color, orange is also the color of creativity and imagination. It works well in family rooms and dining rooms, as well as bathrooms where its peach tones help compliment skin complexions.

The color of happiness and optimism, yellow suggests positive, cheerful feelings and can be used to brighten practically any room. Yellow is great for “work rooms” such as kitchens and laundry rooms.

Associated with health and fertility, green is a cool, relaxing color that also denotes a feeling of renewal and growth. It works well in living rooms, dens and bedrooms and is considered a natural, neutral tone.

Tranquil and meditative, blue is perhaps the most peaceful of all colors, exerting a soothing, calming influence. Great for bedrooms and baths, it’s often used with an accent color, as too much blue can create a cold, dreary feeling.

Traditionally the color of royalty, purple tones evoke a feeling of luxury and nobility. This majestic color works well in bedrooms, living rooms and bathrooms where it can give a sense of lavish opulence.

A pale red, pink is associated with a delicate, feminine look and is used to soften and lighten the look of bathrooms and bedrooms. Pink may be looked upon as elegant, refined and poised.

An earth tone, brown is the most natural of all colors and helps “ground” any color scheme. Brown is good for living rooms, dens and hallways. It works best with an accent color that will keep it from becoming too monotonous.

Simple Guidelines by Project Type

Exterior Painting Projects

  • For certain styles of homes, research the appropriate traditional color schemes for time-tested ideas that work.
  • Pick a paint color that complements the home’s brick, siding, stone or roofing.
  • Choose a color scheme that blends with the neighborhood. If required, check with the homeowners’ association for any color restrictions.
  • Because color may appear different depending on the time of day, paint a section of the house where the body, trim and accent colors can be viewed together. Then check the colors throughout the day to see how they look.
  • To highlight architectural details, such as shutters and columns, choose a color that contrasts with the wall color of the house. For example, if the wall is a light color, choose a darker color.
  • To minimize attention to unattractive elements such as downspouts, air-conditioning units, vents and gutters, paint them the same color as the wall of the house or choose a trim color that is a similar shade.

Color is as individual as you.

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Interior Painting Projects

  • Light colors make a room seem larger, while dark colors are best for accenting recessed areas and highlighting details.
  • Use items in a room to provide color hints. Pick a piece of furniture, art or even a pillow for inspiration. Select your color preference and see what other paint colors work well with it.
  • Connecting rooms should share color elements. For example, using the same color on molding in adjoining rooms unifies an open space.
  • Use light and dark colors to create interest. Attractive architectural features, such as molding and columns, can be emphasized by painting them darker or lighter colors.
  • Consider the home’s flooring. The color of the carpet, tile or hardwood flooring plays an important role in the feel of a room and affects how a paint color appears.
  • Pay attention to the trim in a room. Painting the trim and walls the same color will remove attention to the trim and make it less noticeable. Using a contrasting color for the trim will give it a focal point, making the room more interesting, and add some dimension to the room.

How Light Affects Color

direct sunlight

is considered the most ideal light source because it provides the truest interpretation of color and provides the best balance between warm (yellow shades) and cool (blue shades) extremes.

indirect sunlight

is inconsistent, varying throughout the day and greatly impacting the color in a room. The intense gold rays of sunrise and long dark shadows of twilight “warm” and “cool” room colors in dramatic fashion. Indirect sunlight is the most volatile and unpredictable lighting to assess.

artificial lighting

can be separated into either warm or cool light. Incandescent and halogen lights enhance reds and yellows, warming up a room. Fluorescent and energy-saving bulbs enhance blues and greens,cooling or flattening a room’s color. Artificial light will change colors simply by the type of bulb that is used.

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