Monday, January 30, 2023

Before Choosing a Paint Color, Ask These 5 Questions

Color never stops being interesting, but right now we see a resurgence of interest. Searches for ‘how to choose a paint color’ are up 49% compared to this time last year, with 7,500 people searching for the term last month alone. Considering the rising cost of living, paint can be used as a relatively affordable way to transform space without the need for a big, expensive renovation.

However, choosing a paint color can be a daunting experience. The swatches are endless and the stakes seem high: if you apply the wrong color to the walls, the effort of painting over it seems overwhelming.

So how do you go about selecting the right shades for your space this year?

Jen Nash, Design Excellence Manager at Magnet, shares the five essential questions to ask yourself before deciding on an interior color for any room.

‘’From making a space look bigger to camouflaging defects in a room, color is the interior design component that has the power to instantly transform a space.

“While there are lots of tips to help you decide, interior color choices are highly subjective. It really comes down to asking yourself questions about how the color will serve your space – not only from a design perspective but from practical, psychological and personal perspectives, too.”

Before you buy gallons of paint, here are the crucial questions to ask yourself, according to a design expert. These will ensure that you fill a room with shades that speak to you and will withstand the test of time.

1. What is the room going to be used for and what mood do I want to create?

According to color psychology, different colors evoke different emotions, so choosing a color that is going to nurture the function of a room will create a space that’s beautifully purposeful and one you feel at ease in.

Is it an entertaining space? Is it a space to dine in? Or, perhaps it’s a room to relax in? Think about the mood you want to create and choose a paint color in line with the principles of color psychology to help evoke the desired result. In general, cool colors such as blues, greens and whites, create a restful and soothing atmosphere while warm colors like red, orange and yellow, create a sense of drama and energy.

2. How light or dark is the room?

Light does more than illuminate a room – it impacts the color of the walls too, especially depending on the time of day. It can change the tone of a color and therefore should be a huge consideration when deciding on a paint color.

To simplify it, if your room is facing north/south, the sun isn’t going to shine directly into the room so it will be indirect and much cooler than east/west facing rooms. This will affect whether colors will need warmer or cooler undertones to balance out the sunlight. Before settling on a color, get a sample and paint a square on your wall, paying careful attention to how it changes in certain lights throughout the day.

3. Do I really like the color or is it just a trend?

Just because there’s a general consensus saying one color is on trend, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your own personal favorites. Away from what’s on trend, consider the colors you really like and are intrigued by. These are the tones that are more likely to withstand the test of time and you’ll still love in years to come.

If you’re struggling to discover your personal taste, create a mood board, scrapbook or Pinterest page of color schemes that you like. Look for recurring themes in the images and use them as the starting point for your color scheme.

4. What other colors and existing furniture are nearby?

Make sure to think about how your new color will contrast with the colors you already have nearby. This is particularly important if you are doing just a paint makeover and keeping existing furniture and accessories.

For instance, a white wall in a room of pink furniture will look blush, which might be what you are looking for. But if you want a stark white, choose one with a hint of blue, and it will resist the pink shading from the furniture.

From wood detailing to carpets and even the view outside, also take into account how other adjacent and surrounding colors are going to impact your chosen paint.

5. How diverse is the color?

Unless you want a room that’s completely monotone in color, it’s crucial to ask yourself what other colors your chosen paint goes with. This is really important if you’re looking to paint a room with longevity in mind, whereby the paint you go for has the potential to complement future decor and palette changes you might want to make through accessories and furnishings.

Choosing a wall color like a neutral, that pairs well with a range of other colors, is a safe option. But if you find thinking about color combinations daunting, take a look at the color wheel. This will demonstrate to you the potential combinations and themes you can explore in the room.

Looking at the color you have in mind, there are three key color combinations that are guaranteed to work together. A ‘tonal’ scheme is the simplest as it includes only different tones of that same color. A ‘harmonious’ scheme uses shades that sit next to each other on the wheel, such as red and orange.

Then, there’s the ‘contrasting’ scheme which is the most vibrant of the three. Often referred to as complementary colors, it’s based on two colors that sit directly opposite each other on the wheel, such as yellow and purple. These pairings are guaranteed to add drama to any room.


This article was written by Regina Cole from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to