How to Pick the Perfect Paint Color

by on Apr 20, 2011

Choosing a paint color

We all know that the most cost effective way to change the look of a room is changing the wall color. Picking the wrong color and then having to change it because it doesn’t ‘work’? Not so cost effective! To make sure we choose wisely the first time, all we need to do is follow the Paint Quality Institute’s time-tested rules for picking a color among all those color-card samples we bring home from the store. 

  1. First, conceal all the colors on the card except for the one you are considering.  By isolating the color, you’ll get a better idea of how the room will look in a particular tint or shade.
  2. Second, evaluate the color both in the daytime and at night when all the light comes from fixtures and lamps.  You may be surprised how different a color can look when lighting conditions change.  (Paint colors usually look darker at night, in shadow, and on cloudy days.)
  3. Third, take into account the time of day you typically use the room.  For example, if you are painting a breakfast nook, be sure you like the way the color looks in morning light; but if you’re painting a bedroom, it’s more important that you find the color pleasing at night.
  4. Fourth, be aware that colors tend to be much more intense on a large area than a small one.  A hue that looks just right on a color card may be too dark or bold when applied to your walls.  For that reason, it is often safer to move down one degree of intensity on the color card and choose a slightly lighter color.
  5. Finally, if you’re still undecided, buy a paint sampler in the color you are leaning towards and apply some large swatches to the walls.  Live with the color for a day or two.  You’ll soon know if you nailed it, or missed the mark.

For more painting advice, visit the Paint Quality Institute website at or its blog at