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Choosing Perfect Paint Colors for Your Home

What's the most stressful part about painting a room in your home? Many would say it's deciding what color of paint to pick. The color of your walls sets the ambience of the room, whether it's soothing, lively or cozy. And paint color is probably the first thing that people notice when they walk into your kitchen or living room. No wonder you might panic in the paint store, surrounded by what seems like thousands of shades of paint. You love purple, but will it work in the master bedroom? Don't despair, experiment with the colors that appeal to you and you'll soon have the right shade of paint to make your house look its best.

Color Terminology

You don't have to be an expert, but when choosing paint colors it helps to understand the terminology of color. The hue is the essential color of the paint, regardless of the shade—eggshell blue and navy are both of the same blue hue. The value or shade of a color refers to its lightness or darkness: light greens, medium greens and dark greens have different values. The tone of a color is a term used to describe its brilliance or intensity compared to other values of the same hue.

Use a Color Wheel to Create Color Schemes

Some paint manufacturers and home improvement stores have online paint color selectors where you can upload photographs of your room and experiment with various shades. Or you can take a color wheel and play with it. A color wheel helps you create color schemes that work well together. For instance, if you decide you want to use color values that complement each other, pick colors from the opposite ends of the wheel, like red and green. You might want to use green as the main color on the walls, for instance, and use red as the accent color to pick up the moldings, windowsill and kitchen island. When you're using complementary colors, you might decide on medium values for each color, rather than values so intense that they could be overwhelming when paired together. Or you might decide to use the wheel to play around with a monochromatic scheme where you use different values of blue that will enhance the guest bedroom with subtle pops of color.

Don't forget to think about your existing furniture when you're planning a color scheme. If your living room furniture is upholstered in a reddish-orange, for instance, you might decide to paint the walls a complementary blue-green. A more neutral suite of tan furniture would go well with a number of different schemes. You could pair your tan furniture with earth tones or greens or blues.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

The popular belief that rich, dark colors on your walls will make the room look dark is only partly true. A professional painter will tell you that dark walls absorb the available light, and that indeed can make a room appear gloomy. If you fall in love with an intense tone from the darker end of the color wheel, you may need to get a little creative. You may need to adjust the lighting of that room, for instance. Add extra lighting fixtures placed strategically to make sure that they illuminate any dim or gloomy areas. And put a mirror opposite a lamp to allow the light to bounce off the reflective surface and brighten the room. Paint the ceiling a bright white that the lighting will pick up. Evaluate your window treatments—are they letting in as much natural light as possible? Maybe you can replace those heavy drapes with white sheer curtains for an airier effect.

How Does It Look in Your Bathroom?

Choosing a paint color in a hardware store can result in rushed, hasty decisions. Lighting plays such a big part in how paint color is perceived and certainly your bath does not have the same natural or artificial lighting as the hardware store. Before making that final color choice, take a color card home with you and hold the chip against your walls. Even better, buy a small pot or a sample of a paint color that you like--and paint a foam board. Allow the board to dry and prop it up in the bathroom so you can see whether you like how the color looks in your bathroom. If the brown that looked great in the store looks dreadful on your walls, it's best to know that before you start painting.

Once you've decided on the colors that you want for your home, use our Services Directory to find top painters to help you put that paint on your walls. And our specially designed system of reviews allows you to evaluate your service provider once your project is complete.

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