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How to Choose a Wall Color That You Won’t Instantly Regret

If you’ve ever spent several hours of your life painting a room only to regret it once the walls dried, this one’s for you. Today, we’re here to show you how to choose a wall color that you WON’T instantly regret.

As a former paint store employee, I have seen all too many homeowners return, unsatisfied with the way a color looked on their walls. I don’t want that to happen to you, which is why I’m here today to help you choose the perfect paint color, or colors, for your walls.

Without further ado, here are thirteen things to consider when choosing an interior wall paint color.

six colorful rooms with text that reads:  how to choose the perfect wall color

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1. Understand Color Psychology

Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color evokes feeling and incites emotion. Believe it or not, the colors you surround yourself with can have a huge impact on the way you feel.

When it comes to choosing a wall color, it’s important to first consider the way you want to feel when you’re in any given room.

While certain colors might have a different effect on you, personally, this article goes into more depth on color psychology in Interior Design and how color affects mood and behavior.

Of course, you should take the information with a grain of salt, because at the end of the day, it’s all about what feels good to you.

When it comes to choosing a wall color, it's important to first consider the way you want to feel when you're in any given room.Click To Tweet

2. Sample Before Committing

Sample, sample, sample. This is the best way to save yourself time and money — and to choose a wall color that you won’t regret.

Most paint stores offer small cans of sample paint, or even large stick-on samples that you can put right up on your wall. They give you a real-life representation of what it’ll look like once painted.

Then put them up on every wall that you plan on painting, multiple times a day, to see how they look from all angles and in all different types of light.

Peel & Stick Real-Paint Samples

Buying your paint from PPG, Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, or Farrow & Ball? Then you’ll be happy to know that you can order 12″x12″ stick-on samples (made with actual paint) from Samplize right from the comfort of your own home.

Use code FIRSTFIVE for a discount on your first Samplize order!

3. Look for Inspiration

Inspiration is EVERYWHERE. Start out by opening up your closet. Take a look at your wardrobe to find out which colors you’re drawn to.

Where else can you look for inspiration?

  • nature and the great outdoors
  • home decorating magazines
  • your existing furnishings and decor
  • decorating websites (like this one!)
  • our Pinterest account

When you find a color you love, pin it, print it, or take a picture. Then put them all together in one place so you can compare.

Pro Designer Tip: Put together a mood board of colors, materials, and decor that you would love to have in your home. How? A mood board could be an actual board plastered with magazine cutouts and paint chips, a simple Pinterest board, or something you create in Canva.

4. Understand Color Schemes

There are six different types of color schemes, and they’re all based on where the hues reside on the color wheel.

The color wheel is made up of twelve basic hues:

  • Primary – red, yellow, blue
  • Secondary – orange, green, purple
  • Tertiary – red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple
paint strips arranged like a color wheel

And the types of color schemes are as follows:

  • Monochromatic: varying shades and tints of one color
  • Complementary: two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel
  • Analogous: three colors that are adjacent to each other
  • Triad: three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel
  • Split-complementary: one color is chosen, plus the two that are on either side of its complementary color
  • Tetradic: two sets of complementary colors

You can read more about color schemes in this article about how to choose a color palette for any room.

5. Pull Paint Color from Artwork

When it comes to choosing a paint color or a palette for any given room in the house, it’s always best to have already selected your furnishings and decorations.

It makes choosing wall colors significantly easier.

This way, you can simply pull a color you like from anywhere in the room — a rug or a favorite piece of artwork, for example — and find a paint color to match it.

It’s much harder to find artwork and decorations that work well with your paint color once you have already painted the walls.

6. Bring the Outdoors In

When looking for color inspiration, look beyond your four walls and into nature. Of course, the paint colors you choose should work well with your existing decor.

Nature-inspired hues, such as green and blue, are soothing. Snowy white walls can work well, too, when complemented by the perfect accent pieces.

And the colors you see in the sunrise or sunset will add a nice, warm pop of color to your home.

7. Understand Light Reflectance Value (LRV)

LRV is on the back of most color swatches and in the index of all major brands’ fan decks. But what does it mean? Simply put, LRV measures the percentage of light a paint color reflects.

LRV runs on a scale of 0% to 100%, and 50% would be a mid-value paint color. The higher the LRV, the more light a color reflects back into the room.

It’s not necessarily a set standard, but a guideline. Essentially, it’s a tool to help you predict how light or dark any given color will make a room feel.

8. Go Neutral & Use Bold Accents

You really can’t go wrong with neutral walls. My husband always gives me a hard time because I tend to lean toward grays and beiges, but this way we can decorate our home with pops of color in accent pillows, artwork, and so on.

This is the best way to avoid color clashing if you frequently rotate your accessories and re-decorate.

Another fun option is to furnish your home with neutral furniture and interesting (but still neutral) accessories, and then bring a bolder color to the walls.

It’s really all about what makes sense to you!

neutral sofa with gray and yellow accent pillows

9. Utilize Paint Color Apps

A color app can help you visualize how your paint color would look on a wall. There are different apps, and the one you choose will depend on the paint brand you want to use.

A few options:

  1. Color Connect (Valspar)
  2. Color Smart (Behr)
  3. Paint My Place (Benjamin Moore, Dulux, Farrow&Ball)
  4. Color Capture (Benjamin Moore)
  5. Color Snap (Sherwin Williams)

On the downside, colors can look different in real life than they do on a screen, since the brightness and resolution of your screen have an impact on the color’s appearance.

10. Pull Paint Color from a Large Pattern

What’s the largest pattern in the room? Is there a color in that pattern that would look great on the walls? This is one trick Interior Designers often use to help select the wall color for a room.

11. Stay Ahead of the Trends

If trends are important to you, then you’ll definitely want to stay ahead of them.

What I mean is that, rather than following trends that have already been around for a few years, you should do a little research. Look at larger paint brands to get the color forecast for the next year or two.

This could take a little digging, and you might have to look in places you hadn’t thought of (Interior Design podcasts are great!) but the information is often out there.

Then use that as a starting point for choosing your color scheme or palette.

12. Go Bold in Smaller Doses

If you love color but you’re nervous about going too big, you can still go bold in smaller doses. For a fun splash of color without completely overwhelming the space, it’s best to scale back a little.

If you have a mudroom or smaller, well-lit bathroom, or even a wall that would look great with a separate accent color, then you could potentially use a darker or bolder hue in one of these spaces.

living area with blue accent wall

13. Let Your Personality Shine

My best tip on how to choose a wall color that you won’t regret? When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it’s all about what works for you. Let your personality shine in your home and stick with colors you love, rather than following the “rules”.

I promise, you won’t regret it.

Let your personality shine in your home and stick with colors you love, rather than following the 'rules'.Click To Tweet

How to Choose a Wall Color

Remember, the best way to avoid regretting your wall color is to try out samples first and to go with what feels good to you.

Now that you know how to choose a wall color that you’ll love, what are you going to go with? Let us know in the comments!

Read More:

What Colors Make The Room Look Bigger? (10 Great Options)

Top 10 Bedroom Colors (& the Moods They Evoke)

What Are The Most Popular Sherwin-Williams Colors?

1 thought on “How to Choose a Wall Color That You Won’t Instantly Regret”

  1. Thank you for your advice to use bold color choices in small doses as an accent wall. I’ve been trying to convince my husband to let me paint our whole living room this dark green, but he isn’t too sure about how that will turn out. I’ll bring this idea up to him to see if we can try an accent wall instead to add some depth or interest to the room.

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