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  • Writer's pictureBetsey Dempsey

Common mistakes people make when choosing paint colors.

Do you feel overwhelmed staring at a wall of paint chips? You're not alone! It's a very complicated task. Before you choose a color, think about these common traps many people fall into:



Too many colors with contrast in your home.

Having more than a few colors that contrast each other make a home feel chopped up and smaller. If your home is small to moderate size, keep the main floor to a few colors, and it's best to keep the value (how light or dark they are) similar. It will help the rooms flow and feel more open to each other. The colors don't have to be of the same hue, just go together. For example, you don't need to use three shades of the same color. It's fine to use a soft taupe next to a soft gray-blue. That being said, a bold accent wall can be pretty fabulous in the right place. Just remember, "Too much of a good thing..."


Not taking the time to sample.

Not already convinced? Take the time to read this entry, "Do I really need to sample my paint color?" Remember, when you are looking at a tiny paint chip and you see any undertones in it, those undertones will pop out dramatically when your whole room is painted. For example, if the paint chip looks a bit light blue, you'll probably end up with little-boy's-room-blue. Be safe and cut back the undertone to where you think it's not going to be enough. It probably will be.


Assuming the Color of the Year can't fail.

Just because it's Color of the Year does not mean it will work on your walls. Sometimes those colors are better as accessory colors in a room. I pretty much ignore them and just focus on what will work best on my clients' walls and how the color will make them feel.



Viewing paint chips on a horizontal surface.

Unless you are picking a paint color for a floor, make sure you tape it up on a vertical surface. It will immediately darken. Move the large sample around to different walls to see how it changes. Again, view the link above about sampling colors.


Choosing a paint color from a magazine or online.

Never assume that color will look anything like it does in the picture. Those pictures are often taken with many artificial lights, and are edited before released. I tell my clients to show me the picture and I'll find a color that will look like that. Again, sample before spending your money on the paint.



Not considering the light in the room.

Does your room have lots of natural or artificial light? Southern or northern exposure? Do trees block the light? If your room is on the darker side, I'd pick a color that is "cleaner", and less of a gray or beige undertone. It will reflect the light better. If you have a ton of direct sunlight, you may want to muddy it up just a bit so the color isn't blinding.


I see people who have made these mistakes all the time. It's tempting to cut corners to get the job done. Even if you do make a mistake, no worries. Paint is pretty inexpensive relative to most other decorating elements.

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