Paint 101: HOW TO CHOOSE PAINT COLORS FOR YOUR INTERIORS- A complete guide by Painters in Austin

Paint 101: HOW TO CHOOSE PAINT COLORS FOR YOUR INTERIORS- A complete guide by Painters in Austin

Before we start, there is something we’d like you to know. Choosing paint colors for your home is easier than you think it is. The rules of color selection are simple, and mostly depends on what colors suit your taste. Once you are familiar with the basics of color theory and selection, you can experiment with different combinations until you are satisfied. Here’s your guide to all things colors and paint related- to equip you on this adventure.

  1. Colors: The basics
  • Passive colors: color hues that create a calming effect and promote mental focus and relaxation. Blues, greens and purples are usually considered passive colors. Generally, passive colors are cool and soft-toned colors. Passive colors are popular choices for bedrooms and can make small spaces seem more spacious.
  • Active colors: color hues that create a stimulating effect and excite the mind. Reds, yellows and oranges are usually considered active colors. Active colors are often warm and bright toned colors. Vibrant and eye-catching, active colors are popular choices for kitchens, offices and accent walls.
  • Neutral colors: color hues that do not comfortably fit within one of the primary or secondary color families. Neutral colors include black, white, brown, gray and cream. In interior design, many hues can be used as “neutrals” so long as they are less saturated (i.e. less vibrant) than the accompanying colors. For example, baby pink can act as a neutral when paired with vibrant, rich colors such as emerald, navy blue or scarlet.
  1. Picking the palette:
  • Look at a color wheel to understand how color families work together. Colors next to each other on the wheel are called analogous. Colors directly across from each other on the wheel are called complementary.
  • For a monochromatic color scheme, select various hues that are all within the same color family. Neutral colors are perfect for creating an elegant monochromatic color scheme.
  • For a bold room, try creating a color scheme using only primary color hues, also known as a triad color scheme. Hues that all share the same tone will create a harmonious color scheme. 
  • A good rule of thumb is to remember the color wheel. We all learned about the primary colors in school – red, yellow and blue. These are on the color wheel at 12:00, 4:00 and 8:00 respectively. Combining any of these will give you a secondary color (i.e. purple, orange).
  • Colors near each other on the color wheel such as blue and purple are analogous to each other and will allow one color to stand out more. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel such as green and red are complementary to one another and will nicely play off each other.
  • Staying within the same shade of color (i.e. greens) will give you a subtle and soothing look. Painting with cool colors such as blues, greens and purples makes small rooms appear larger and more airy while colors such as reds, yellows and oranges will give a room a more vibrant appearance. You can vary the warmth even with a red or yellow by choosing muted shades of those colors such as pink, peach or a buttery yellow.
  • Warm colors have cool ones as their complementary colors while cool colors have warm complements. Shades are either pure or vibrant, muted (which are less intense than their vibrant counterparts) or shaded (the darker colors in the same color scheme).
  1. Selecting the paint:
  • Paint comes in a variety of sheens as well as in either oil or latex. Latex paint is the most commonly and preferred paint type to use because of its ease of clean up and long-lasting durability. It also tends to be more fade resistant and breathes better than oil, resulting in less blistering of the paint.
  • However, oil-based paint is great for priming real wood moldings and trim as it tends to seal stains and knots from the wood better than a latex paint wood. It does take longer to dry than a latex paint though, so plan for more drying time.
  1. Sheen and shine:
  • The glossier the paint, the easier it is to clean up. If you have small children and the room you are painting has high traffic, like in a playroom, or tends to get grease on the wall such as in a kitchen, opt for high gloss sheen as you can easily wipe the wall down with a damp sponge.
  • This will however make blemishes and imperfections in your wall more apparent and in rooms such as living rooms, could give off an unpleasant shine. High gloss is also great for trim and will give the trim a nice finished look, complementing the flatter sheen of your walls.
  • Semi-gloss would also be a good choice for kitchens and baths as well as trim providing you with ease of wash-ability and less shine than the gloss. It is also slightly cheaper than the gloss finish and is a very common alternative.
  • Satin sheens have a satiny smooth finish to them and could also be used in kitchens, baths and hallways. This may be a good choice if you really want some gloss and paint that can clean easily without the shine of a gloss.
  • If you have walls with lots of imperfections, select a flat or matte paint. You can usually get away with one coat of paint with a flat. The downside to this paint is that it does not stand up well to a good cleaning and does tend to show dirt more so choose this for rooms that will not get lots of fingerprints and dirt on them.
  1. Transition colors:
  • The next challenge after you’ve picked out the colors for your walls, is to seamlessly paint the transition spaces in colors that blend perfectly to compliment the space harmoniously.
  • When working with different colors for each room, a good rule of thumb is to use a darker or lighter color in adjacent rooms. For example, if your dining room is a light gray, then you could paint the adjacent living room a dark blue.
  • When standing in one room, consider all the adjacent rooms that you can see into. Make sure all the visible rooms are painted colors that work well together. For example, if you can see into the living room and kitchen from the foyer, all three of the rooms’ colors should coordinate. Bedrooms, however, don’t necessarily need to coordinate their wall colors because they are often behind closed doors.
  1. Inspiration is everywhere!
  • Designer fabrics provide a professional color palette, especially when it comes to ideas for coordinating colors.
  • Bring the great outdoors indoors by drawing inspiration from the colors of nature. Think grassy greens and beachy blues.
  • If you love a color, but it’s not quite working in your room, you may just need to try a lighter or darker shade.
  • Make neutrals interesting by mixing warm- and cool-toned neutral hues in one room.

Try matching the wall color to a color in your favorite piece of artwork or other home accents.