Three steps to pick the perfect paint / by Mark Schmidt


Each year, Pantone names one single color of the year. Just one. (Well, with the exception of this year when they named two–Rose Quartz and Serenity.) And whether you’re remodeling or building a new home, you feel this pressure too–on a personal level. 

Just one color per room (maybe two, if you choose to paint an accent wall). There are more than 50 shades of gray in your local home improvement stores's collection. And that’s just gray! So how is it that you’re going to you decide on the perfect paint color when looking at that illuminated rainbow mirage of samples in Home Depot or Sherwin Williams? It's easier than you think! Try these three easy steps to pick the perfect paint for your room:

Find Inspiration. Before you get started, take a look around. Grab the latest issue of Southern Living or Architectural Digest, tune in to HGTV or Google for inspiration. Tear out the pages from magazines that make you "Ohhh" and "Ahhh", or start a virtual idea book online. (Hint: There's an app for that! It's called Check it out!)

Go Digital. Technology is incredible this day and age. So use it to your advantage. We love tools like ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams, which allows you to test various paint colors in different rooms of your own house by downloading photos of the room you're going to paint and adding color virtually as a test run. 

Light it up. After you've stockpiled your ideas, take a look what you've collected. More than likely, when looking at it all together, one image will catch your eye more than the others, so take your image to your local paint shop. Now's the time to make it your own. Just be sure to take note of your lighting. Does the room you're painting have plenty of natural light? Or is it lit artificially? Selecting a color in the store can be deceiving. What appears gray in one room may look lilac in another. So take note!

If you're working with natural light, remember:

  • North-facing rooms typically have cool-toned lighting
  • South-facing rooms will make dark colors appear brighter
  • East-facing rooms are perfect for warm colors as the light is yellow-toned in the morning and blue-toned in the afternoon
  • West-facing rooms may produce shadows in the morning and make bright colors appear dull

If your room's lighting is mostly artificial, keep in mind:

  • Fluorescent bulbs produce cool light
  • Halogen bulbs most resemble natural lighting
  • Incandescent bulbs mute cooler paint colors while making warm colors more vivid

Too much to remember? No worries! Most paint suppliers now have lighting stations that make this part easy. Simply place your sample swatch under the correct lighting and see how the shade changes. Choose the hue that best suits you!

(Optional) Use a Lifeline. If all else fails, call a professional designer. That's what they're there for! We are big fans of Jo Howell at Big Sky Design. Check out one of our renovation collaborations here!