Choosing paint colors: It’s not rocket science—it just feels that way

 

Paint ColorI am a creative, competent adult (much of the time). So why does choosing a paint color make me feel like such a moron? I dread going to a home center or paint store "to get some ideas." The multitude of choices feels so overwhelming that I immediately forget what my house looks like.

 

Not only that, if you take a leap of faith and decide on a color, when you bring it home and actually get it on the wall...what appeared to be a nice, rich gold in the sample chip is actually sort of green next to the blue drapes.

 

 

Paint Swatches

And let's not even get into those color "discussions" you have with your spouse. In my experience, you can make all sorts of amicable decisions about HVAC systems, appliances, flooring and toilets, but start talking paint colors and you're sure to become mortal enemies. "What do you mean you want a red bathroom—are you nuts?"

 

Luckily, I have found a helpful bit of sanity on the Web. There are terrific Web sites (we list a few here) that let you upload actual photos of your own home, which allow you and your spouse to "paint" different wall surfaces with colors from an extensive preloaded palette or your own custom-designed color choices.

 

You have to be technically proficient enough to upload the photos, but the step-by-step directions on each Web site guide you through the process. These Web sites are especially helpful in whittling down the choices among different color families (because the color on your screen won't look exactly the same in real life). Once you've settled on a few possibilities, get some samples and paint them on sheets of matte poster board. Then move the boards around the room so you can see what the color looks like in different locations and lighting conditions. The final decision may still be a battle, but at least you'll know the color looks like next to your drapes.

 

 — Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

 

Before you pick up a paintbrush, check out these stories on our site:

Professional painting tips

Decorative painting tips


Need help choosing paint colors for your home? Check out these Web sites:

- Valspar Paint's Virtual Painter

- Benjamin Moore's Personal Color Viewer

- Sherwin-Williams' Color Selection Tools

- Glidden's Room Painter