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How to Choose Paint Colors for Home

Have you ever stepped foot into a paint store and been totally paralyzed by all the choices? Or maybe you were surprised that the final color looked nothing like the paint chip or sample? If so, I see you! I’ve encountered these and other paint travesties over the years. With a lot of research and first hand experiences however, I’ve learned a lot (and I mean a lot) about paint. That’s why I’m sharing my tips for how to choose paint colors for home!

how to choose paint colors for home

(Part of my design journey includes sourcing products and sharing them with you! Naturally, some of my content includes affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click and purchase.  This commission allows me to write more content and support our family, so thank you!)

1. Consider the existing elements that will not change

Ok, this is by far one of the biggest variables to consider. I think it’s more important than the actual paint color. Before even stepping foot into a paint store or ordering samples, consider what design elements will not be changing and then work from there. 

You’ll want to think about what colors works well across the board with:

  • Existing flooring
  • Trim*
  • Cabinets*
  • Anchor furniture (not every little piece, but the main items you’ve invested in)
  • Natural light  (consider which direction house faces)
  • Outside elements such as grass or deck overhang that cast a color inside

*assuming these are not getting painted

warm vs cool gray paint colors

2. Cool vs Warm and Neutral Paint

Now, you’ll want to think about whether the existing elements are cool vs. warm.  Cool have bluish or purple undertones while warm have red or orange undertones. You’ll want to choose a paint in the same family. 

To make it easier, you might also consider using a neutral paint color and by neutral I mean one that does not have strong undertones. Just because it’s gray doesn’t make it neutral. 

Understanding cool vs warm can be tricky! If you’d like to learn more and get access to specific colors, check out my Stress Free Guide to Choosing Paint

When comparing colors, there are a few tips that help. I’m sharing some of my favorites in my post: Testing Paint Colors.

3. Whole House Color Scheme

Now that you’ve got cool vs warm sorted out, you’ll want to think of the big picture. Instead of choosing room by room, think of all the colors you might use collectively.  

The house will flow better and will make following decor decisions easier. Let’s say you decide to change the flooring in 5 years, if you have a cohesive color scheme, you won’t be fighting against all sorts of colors. 

I personally like painting the houses I work on one main neutral white color and then strategically paint bold accent walls with bold colors -usually black or dark gray! 

Download my curated paint color schemes

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Paint Color FAQs

Paint is one of my most asked about decor and design questions on my home decor blog! There so many factors to consider. Here are my tips for common paint color questions.

sherwin williams color of the year 2023, redend point
sherwin williams color of the year, 2023

What are popular colors for 2024?

Well, my friends, I hate to break it to you but folks are moving away from all that gray. I know, I know. Personally, I’m not one to jump on a trend boat, but it is nice to keep things contemporary. 

In 2024, natural, earthy color hues are gaining traction. If going all white (like I have done!), then house color schemes are leaning towards slightly warmer white. 

Check out all my thoughts on 2024 Wall Color Trends for more ideas and inspiration.,

iron ore paint by sherwin williams

Can you color match from a different brand? 

This answer will be very unsatisfying. Technically yes, yes you can take a specific color from one brand and ask another to “color match it.”

However, it’s never exactly the same. Because the colorants are added to a base, and each brand has different bases, you might be getting some unforeseen undertones. 

You might be hoping for a neutral gray and end up with a very cool, bluish gray that makes everything feel like a hospital.  True story! 

Instead, I would find a similar hue specific to the brand I’m purchasing from.

If you’re curious about two of the most popular paint brands, check out my Sherwin Williams vs. Benjamin Moore comparison.

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    Should I paint the whole house the same color?

    This is a highly debated topic. I’ve shared that I prefer to paint the entire house one neutral white. Then to add more colors and interest,  I like to think of whole house color schemes and paint strategic accent walls.

    This means I might use the same colors in different ways throughout the house or use complementary colors. For example, if my son wanted a blue room, I would choose a blue that is complementary to the entire color scheme, not just a random hue chosen from a color chip.