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How To Pick The Right Paint Color Every Time

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Picking the right paint color can be stressful. There is nothing worse than buying a gallon of paint and then getting it on the walls in your space and not liking it at all. Painting is a big job and you want to get the right color if you are going to go through all the work. I will be the first to tell you that Matt and I have painted MANY walls over and over again. Not only in our own home but in our flip houses. Over the years, I have learned some great tips that have helped me pick the right paint color every time and I am sharing those with you today.

Picking the right paint color can be stressful, but I am sharing easy tips on How To Pick The Right Paint Color Every Time.

How To Pick The Right Paint Color Every Time

  • Go With What You Already Have

When we became homeowners for the first time, there were many times I went to the paint store and started looking through swatches and bought gallons of paint from a pretty swatch at the store. I didn’t even think about what was in our home as I was picking out the color. In doing this, I would always choose a color that didn’t match what was in our home. I would choose a cool color when all the decor and the furniture in the room were warm tones and colors or vice versa.

Matt and I would get the paint on the walls and it wasn’t right. The color may have been fine, but it didn’t look fine with the things we had in that room. Either, the paint had to be changed or I had to get all new furniture and decor. That latter wasn’t happening so it was back to the paint store to get a different color. ALWAYS have your current furniture and decor in mind when picking out paint colors. Does the furniture have warm or cool tones? Does the decor lean more cool or warm? Having this knowledge before you head to the paint store is how to pick the right paint color every time.  

  • What Are Your Pinterest Boards Saying?

Do Pinterest boards talk? THEY SURE DO! They say a lot about what you like, what you are drawn to, and the style and colors you aren’t a fan of. We are all pinning on Pinterest, but how often do we look back at what we pinned to see what the boards and pins say about our style? Spend some time in your Pinterest account. What is it telling you? What do you see repeated over and over again? Is it a color? A style? A mood? This is a little tool that gets overlooked and doesn’t get talked about, but it will help you narrow down the right paint color for your space. 

  • Neutrals

I know, I know…… BORING! I think there are two sides to the neutral argument. Some people LOVE it and others think it is so boring. BUT…. neutral does not have to be white, gray, and greige. It can be blues, greens, and pinks. You can really do any color in a neutral way. Having a neutral paint color on the walls makes everything else in the room POP. The furniture and decor become the star of the show.

That’s why we buy those things and decorate our homes with them. We want to notice the decor and furniture in our spaces and not necessarily the color on the wall as much. The paint color is the background “noise”, the jumping-off point, the “supporting role” to build the rest of the room from. Think of neutral tones when choosing a paint color … no matter what color you are going with.

  • Don’t Commit From Swatches Alone

I swear this is a right of passage we all have to go through. We have all been there. We head to the paint store, look at all the pretty swatches and buy a gallon of paint from a swatch we like. STOP IT! Don’t do that anymore. The swatches on the paper aren’t a great representation of the actual color. It is a good starting point, but no matter what it looks like on the swatch, it will look totally different on your walls. EVERY TIME.

The paint stores have even added different lighting features in the paint section so you can put the swatches under them to see what the color will look like in different lighting. That still doesn’t represent the color. The paint store usually has poor lighting. It is nothing like the lighting in the room you will be painting. The lighting feature won’t have the exact lighting you have in your home. Don’t choose a paint color from the swatch alone. Use the other tips in this post to find the right color every time. 

  • Compare Swatches

This one will surprise you. It still surprises me. If you know the color you are looking for (gray, white, blue, green, etc.), head to the paint store and pick up at least five different swatches that you like of that color. Hold the swatches next to each other and you will quickly be able to narrow down your choices. When you hold similar colors together, you can see the difference in them. You will see a white color that looks pinker or a gray color that really is a light purple. Holding up a few different options of a similar color is how to pick the right paint color every time.


This is the one way to get the exact color you love. Buy samples of the colors you think are the best options. There is no other sure-fire way to see what the color will look like in the space you want it to go. It is a little extra money upfront, but it will save you so much time, money, and effort in the end. I say to get 3-5 samples to put on the wall. If you only have two you can’t decide on, go with that, but 3-5 is a good range to narrow down to if you have more than two you can’t decide on.

  • Put Samples Where You Can See Them

You have committed to painting so don’t put the samples on a spot on the wall where you can’t really see it. You are going to paint over it once you choose the color so put the samples in the middle of the wall at eye level. Paint a good size sample on the wall as well. If you can do a 2′ x 2′ size, go for it. If it has to be smaller, that is fine, but a bigger size will give you a better representation.

I usually put the samples next to each other so depending on the number of samples you have will determine the sample size you can do. I also do a couple of coats so that I can see the color it will be. One coat will not show you the true color. The color underneath the sample will probably show through to some degree. I would plan on doing at least two coats but do more if the color underneath is still showing through. You want to get the best representation of the color on your wall.


Now that you have the samples on the wall, wait until it is dry to look at them. Then, look at the samples at different times of the day. Don’t just look at it in the morning. You want to look at those samples at different times of the day, all day long. You want to see what the colors look like at different times, in different lighting, when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up, etc. The color will change throughout the day so make sure to get a good look at it at different times all day before making the final choice.

  • Sheen Is A Game-Changer

The sheen of the paint can change the color. In two of our houses, we painted stripes in two of the rooms. We did the stripes in the same color but did one in flat paint and the other in a satin sheen. They looked like two different colors. I loved the look and it really showed us how different sheens can make the color look totally different. So, when you are picking out a paint color, make sure you take the sheen into consideration. You also want to make sure you get the samples in the sheen you will be painting the room in so you can see the true color on your wall.

Picking the right paint color can be stressful, but I am sharing easy tips on How To Pick The Right Paint Color Every Time.

  • Undertones  

When I say that a white paint color can lean more pink or a blue or gray paint color can lean more purple, I am talking about the undertones of the color. If you pick up a paint swatch that has the colors going lighter to darker, that will give you a great idea of what the undertones are of a particular color.

If you are looking at gray paint colors and you pick up one of the swatches that go from light to dark, see what the darkest color looks like on that swatch. Is it more purple? Blue? Green? That is the easiest way to see what the undertone of that color is. Also, when you hold up similar color swatches to each other as I talked about above, you will be able to see how some of them lean to another color. That is the undertone of that color.

I have a funny story about this. We were helping my mom do her bathroom makeover and she went and picked a paint color. She painted the bathroom in that color and when I came to see it, I said, “Oh, you went with lavender!” She couldn’t believe I said that because she thought she picked out a light gray. We still laugh about that today. The gray color she picked out definitely had a purple undertone. Her bathroom is still that color today. 🙂

  • The Best Part

It’s only paint!!! It can be painted over and over and over again. But, hopefully, the tips I have mentioned above will only have you painting the space once. Matt and I have learned so much over the years of painting our houses and our flip houses. We have painted many walls over. It isn’t the end of the world, but it is a lot of unnecessary work and money spent when you have these other tips to help. 

old brushes

If you have other tips on how to pick the right paint color every time, please leave them in the comments. I love seeing what other people do to ensure the right paint color.

If these tips helped pick out the right color in your next project, I would love to know! Share a photo of your newly painted space and tag me on Instagram @mycreativedays. I would love to see it!


Picking the right paint color can be stressful, but I am sharing easy tips on How To Pick The Right Paint Color Every Time.

If you liked these tips, you will love these posts:

How To Prep Walls For Paint

5 Tips For Choosing White Paint

How To Test For Lead Paint Easily & Immediately

How To Paint A Room


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