Pick a Pint of Perfect Paint


Actually it’s a gallon, but no matter the quantity, picking the right paint color can be one of the most challenging aspects of decorating.

It’s a too common scenario:  We imagine the perfect barn red, choose a color from a paint sample called “Barn Red”, and then once the room is painted, we stand back and stare in disbelief at the new fuchsia walls.

One rule of choosing paint:   Never be influenced by the name of the paint color. Farrow & Ball’s “Wall White” is actually the colour of café au lait, and their “House White” is really a lovely butter yellow.  Forget about the name and go with the color you see on the chip.

Choosing paint colors for your home is, while changeable, an integral part of your décor.  The paint colors on your walls set the background for the rooms, reflect your personality, and are somewhat an extension of yourself.  Think about what you like, what makes you happy, what makes you calm. If you love bright colors, go for bright saturated tones. If you’re more the meditative type, a monochromatic, neutral scheme might be the route to take.

When planning your colors, think about how color can activate different emotional responses, and how you want your rooms to feel.

Reds can generate emotion like passion, romance and energy, while lighter shades of red (pink) are more calming.

Orange is one of today’s hot colors, perfect for those who want something a little more daring.  Paired with reds and greens, orange can radiate an exotic feel.


Pantone recently named Tangerine the hottest color of 2012:



Yellow ranges from pale butter to deep ochre.  Bright yellows promote alertness; can work well in kitchens or playrooms, while softer, muted yellows are a good choice for bedrooms.

Green can have both warm and cool undertones, so it works well with many other colors.  Be careful if you’re choosing green for your dining room or kitchen; some color analysts believe that certain shades of green can reflect poorly on food.

Blue can be a soothing color (pale shades add a feeling of serenity to a bathroom), or cheerful (cornflower blue in a Provencal kitchen).

Once you’ve targeted on the color you envision in your space, don’t rely on paint chips alone.  Many paint companies offer sample pots of paint, large enough to cover a few square feet on a wall and just the right amount to give you a good idea of how the color will really look once applied.  Another option is to use the relatively new, sheet-sized samples that stick right onto the wall. You can reposition the samples onto different areas of the wall or onto different walls to see how the color will look in different light, and in morning and night.   Painting a scrap piece of wood or gypsum board can also serve as a homemade sample, but try to purchase a small quantity like a quart or sample pot instead of an entire gallon to test the color.

If the color you are inspired by can’t be found on a sample, don’t stop there.  Bring your color inspiration, be it a blue-grey sweater or a red leaf, to a paint mixer or Home Depotand have them match it for you.

While choosing a paint color can be a slightly daunting exercise, once your intuition and style directs you to a certain color, you’ll have the satisfaction of achieving the look and feel of a room once only imagined, now brought to life – in color.

Paint Color Tip:  If you are deliberating between a darker and lighter shade of a color, go darker.  A lighter shade can sometimes look washed out, while the darker version will seem much richer.