Choosing Paint Colors

Choosing paint colors is the number one topic I get questioned about by friends, neighbors and colleagues. There are countless books on color theory and painting, so in an effort not to over simplify a truly complex topic, here are a few tips for the busy homeowner/business owner feeling overwhelmed in the paint store:


1. Get in touch with your inner color palette. Are you attracted to cool colors (blues, grays, greens) or warmer colors (reds, oranges, yellows)? Not sure? Take a look at your closet. Chances are the predominant colors in your wardrobe will clue you in to the colors you like best.



2. Big Picture Thinking. Once you’ve narrowed it down to the general colors you prefer, think about the space you are painting and its adjacency’s. What furniture and finishes do you have to work with in your space already? A new paint color should complement these. Similarly, the transition from one space to another should flow seamlessly. I try to avoid the “box of crayons†effect, where every room is a different color that doesn’t relate to each other. Here is a great example of rooms that flow gracefully into one another:




3. Color theory 101: Beige is not beige. There are so many versions of white and beige; there is nothing boring about beige. A monochromatic neutral color scheme can be really elegant if you layer different shades of similar neutrals. Adding texture with fabrics, art, rugs and accessories really brings richness to the space.

Some of our favorite neutrals by Benjamin Moore, click on the color below to preview:

Swiss Coffee OC-45

Navajo White 947

November Rain 2142-60

Wickham Gray HC-171

White Dove OC-17



4. Color Intensity. Colors can change dramatically in different light. I recommend taping a paint chip (or several) on the wall so you can see the way it changes with the different light in your space. Color is always more intense on a wall than a paint chip. For example, if you are looking for a pale blue, try something with more gray in it. Otherwise you might find the pale blue paint chip looks more like a baby blue on a large wall. Here is a great example of color with the right amount of intensity for the room:




5. What type of paint is right for you? I recommend using a good quality, low VOC paint. It is slightly more expensive, but the color will be truer and you will use less paint. I prefer resourcing paint from local paint stores that carry quality paint rather than large chain home improvement stores. Here in Savannah, I frequent B&B Paint Company on MLK. In terms of paint finish there are a few rules of thumb. They are listed from least to highest sheen:


Flat Finish: Hides imperfections, but is harder to keep clean. Typically used for ceilings.


Eggshell: Easier to clean than flat; a great choice for most walls


Satin: Has a nice amount of gloss for trim, especially for older homes where trim may have imperfections; also good for cabinetry.


Semi-Gloss: Glossier finishes reflect more light; this one can be great on trim in tip top shape or cabinets if you are going for a sleeker, modern look.



6. When in doubt: Hire a professional. I’m always happy to help my clients find the perfect shade to complement their space and their personality.