Choosing the Right Color

Whether it is for the interior or the exterior, choosing the right color is a matter of personal preference.  Picking the right color can be as important as choosing the right painting contractor.  You are the one that will see the end product each and every day.  The first suggestion I can make that applies to everyone is to take your time and make sure you are going to be happy with your color choice. Some people can make their decision after looking at one color chart and pointing at the color they like, “That one right there”.  Others can take weeks and still be unsure about their choice.  Interior colors are probably more difficult to choose than exterior ones so we’ll start there.



If you are unsure of a color(s) for your interior project start looking all around you.  Possibly as important as looking for what you do like, is to also take note of what you don’t like.  Look at magazine articles. Take note of rooms in houses you visit.  If you have a difficult time with these types of decisions or just really don’t have a knack for color combinations you should consider hiring an interior decorator.

Consider the furnishings in the room you are going to paint.  Furniture, rugs, curtains, artwork, etc…   You should look for a color so that your walls that will accent or blend well with these items instead of dominating them.

Ceilings do not have to be painted white.  Ceilings are painted white to brighten up a room and make it appear larger.  This may be desirable in older houses with smaller rooms and minimal lighting.  Many of today’s more modern homes contain larger rooms with far more lighting.  Large room with cathedral ceilings and skylights are prime candidates for colored ceilings.  One attractive option is to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls.  Be careful not to use colors that are too confining such as reds or oranges or very dark shades of most any color.  Another option for the ceiling is to paint it one or two shades lighter than the color of the walls and the trim one hade lighter than the ceiling.

If your room has a chair rail or a border across each wall and you want to break up the wall with two colors, choose the darker color for the bottom half.  Otherwise the darker color will tend to close in the room and dominate the two-tone effect you are looking to achieve.

Getting a color sample is also a good idea.  Most paint stores sell samples that you can purchase for little cost.  You may not be able to paint an entire wall with this amount of paint but you can paint a good portion of a wall so that you can see how the color will look in the room.  Another good method is to paint the color on a large enough section of poster board instead of directly on the wall.  This has many advantages.  For one you can see what the color will look like in various parts of the room.  Also, it is easier to test many different colors in this way.

Yet another option is to use a computer program.  All you need is a digital cameral and a computer, which if you are reading this you probably have.  Some web sites have  programs on them you can use or you may purchase one rather cheaply.  Take a picture of the room(s) you are painting and you can easily see how different colors will look in any given room.



As with choosing interior colors consider your surroundings.  What color is your roof? What is the landscaping like around your house? Perhaps you would like to coordinate the color of the house with particular plants when they bloom. What is the neighborhood like? Are there houses clearly visible from yours or is your house set back not visible form the road? Do you have shutters?  Choosing exterior colors can be easier because many people have a general idea for color schemes they prefer.  It can also be intimidating since a mistake is not limited to a single room but the entire house! If you end up with something you consider hideous, it is noticeable each and every time you leave and come home. In most cases this is hardly desirable.  Another consideration for some is the sensitivity of your neighbors.  The tendency may be to say you aren’t concerned with what your neighbors think.  The reality is that it may very well matter what they think.

Perhaps the easiest and least expensive way to choose a color for the exterior of your home is to look around.  Take a drive through different neighborhoods to see what you find most appealing.  Do you like the monochromatic look?  Perhaps two shades of the same color?  How many colors do you consider too many?  What about the front door?  Perhaps you have an old Victorian.  How much do you want the detail work to stand out?  How many colors and what color combinations appeal to you? These are some things you should consider.  No matter your tastes, there is no shortage of examples for you to look at.

As with the interior you can try painting a sample color directly on the house.  Or you can use the poster board method allowing you to easily see different colors at different locations.  You can also use a computer program with a digital camera.

No matter the method, whether it is interior or exterior, be careful to choose a color(s) you will be happy with.  Take your time.  Avoid the uncomfortable situation of having to choose a color in one night because the painting contractor has had you scheduled in for several weeks and he needs to start the day after tomorrow.  Know your situation and your tastes.  Some people will be satisfied with most any color as long as it looks clean.  Others need to explore all their options and consider every possibility and still they will question their decision.

© MHB Painting