Choosing The Perfect Paint Color

If painting is on your to-do list but you’re stumped by a color choice, finding your inspiration will get you get back on track.

Before you start painting, you’ll need an “inspiration piece.” An inspiration piece is a swatch of fabric, rug, or artwork you adore. Choose one color from your inspiration piece and have it matched by your local paint store. Most paint stores have a computer that can color match most anything. If the color is still a little bright, you may choose a color of the same shade, but a slightly different hue.  

If you are still having trouble choosing a color, there are several helpful tools provided by paint manufacturers like Sherwin Williams.

Sherwin Williams’ Color Snap is a must-have app. Color Snap helps you find color inspiration by designing color schemes from the photos you love (landscapes, flowers or artwork).

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Color Snap STUDIO for IPad lets you visualize your room with a new color. Snap a photo of your room with your IPad. Define an area to paint or simply paint your walls with the brush of a finger. Also try Color Snap Glass, the newest member of the Color Snap family that uses Google Glass.

Choosing the Perfect Paint

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Color Tone

When choosing colors for the main living area of your home stay away from vibrant colors, unless you are going for a bold statement. Most sample fan decks have a “neutral” section. This section includes colors but in subdued, toned down neutral shades.


Never choose a color from a one inch paint chip sample, without first doing a paint swatch on the wall. Never paint your swatch in the center of the wall, as the current wall color will fight with the new one.  Paint a large swatch (3’ x 3’) against the baseboard, door or window trim. Apply a swatch to all walls in the room as lighting from windows, and shadows in corners will alter the appearance of the color. Also, look at the color at night, lamps and overhead lighting can change the color as well. You must love the color on all walls and at all times of day.

“Paint is usually one shade darker than the paint chip sample, once it has been applied to the wall. When in doubt, go with the lighter shade.”


The sheen of the paint is just as important as the color you choose. An eggshell or satin sheen is best for most rooms. A satin sheen is easy to wash and won’t scuff as easily as flat paint. When painting a dark color, this rule should be broken; use flat or a matte finish paint instead. Dark colors will have a shiny glare when painted with eggshell or satin, and all imperfections will be seen. Never use semi-gloss on walls, semi-gloss is intended for woodwork and trim.

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