How to Choose Paint Like a Pro 

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You’re standing in the paint aisle at your local home improvement store feeling overwhelmed. There are literally hundreds of swatches staring back at you; how will you ever choose the right ones? Our advice: take a tip from  the pros and before you wield a brush, think about how you want the space to feel and the mood you want to create.  

Approach the project with a professional’s eye and use the transformative power of paint to create the perfect mood and vibe. In no time your DIY home decorating skills will soon become second nature and you’ll transform your new place into a showplace. Let’s start with a few basics every professional pulls from and then some practical tips and tricks. 

Put Theory into Practice 

Color theory isn’t just some esoteric science. The pros know it’s a practical way to help choose the best colors to transform a space. It’s all based on the color wheel, an organized collection of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. If this sounds a bit abstract and confusing, this example should clear things up. 

When used together, colors that are opposite each other on the wheel create contrast and visual pop, while colors that are next to each other create feelings of calm and harmony. For a vibrant look, go for complementary colors. For something more subtle, use colors that are next to each other.  

Stick to a theme. For a sophisticated, subtle effect, pick two or three colors in the same color family. Use the darkest shade for accent walls, the medium for main walls, and the lightest for trim and ceilings. For high contrast, paint the walls and trim in complementary colors. And don’t forget tother elements that add color to a room. Art, pillows and rugs also provide opportunities to incorporate color in a bold way. 

Set the Mood with Color 

Think about the mood you’re looking to create. Do you want your kitchen or nursey to be bright and inviting? Do you envision something more soothing for a study or bedroom? Warm reds, cream colors and oranges bring energy to a space. Cool blues, greens and grey-violet tones create a calming vibe. For an open plan or multi-purpose space choose a neutral beige, gray or white for the main walls. Then add pops of color with accent walls, décor, accessories or paint the ceiling a bright hue. Also look at our ideas for dressing up your walls

Do a Lighting Check 

Consider the natural light in the room: It affects how the colors appear. See if it’s possible to obtain a small paint sample from your hardware or home improvement store and paint a small section of the wall before you commit. In general, north-facing rooms will look best with warmer tones; south-facing rooms can handle cooler colors. Also keep in mind that tighter colors make a room look bigger, while deeper, more intense colors tend to have the opposite effect. Check out our tips to brighten up a light-challenged room.  

Anything Worth Doing… 

Since this is a DIY project, think about the money you’re already saving and don’t skimp on the tools. Tackling the job the right way will lead to professional-looking results — and a sturdy step ladder along with quality drop cloths, brushes, rollers, and trays will make the job go more smoothly.  

Use angled brushes for trim and edges, rollers for large areas. Apply a primer first and use tape to mask areas you don’t want to paint. For maximum coverage and a smooth, professional looking result, apply two coats of paint and let each coat dry before applying the next. Load your roller or brush with apply using even, overlapping strokes. Work in small sections across the wall using a ‘W’ or ‘N’ pattern. Remove the tape as soon as you’re done to get crisp, clean lines. 

Go Online for Inspiration 

Like anything else, colors tend to follow trends. While certain tones like off-white are essentially timeless, reds and terra-cotta tomes are becoming increasingly popular. Home improvement sites abound and can be an excellent source for ideas. And don’t forget sites like Pinterest, Instagram and even Airbnb for inspiration. Take the color and paint ideas you like best and make them your own. Above all, don’t get stuck or be afraid to try something different. After all, you can always repaint! 

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