Home Decor

How to Choose the Right Paint Colour

The key is balance.

Paint colours for the inside of your home are so important to an overall design scheme. They can make or break a space by being too hot, too cold, too intense or too bold. It’s important to follow some basic rules when choosing paint colours, so that your space looks coordinated and balanced.

How to Choose the Right Paint Colour - Follow some basic rules when choosing paint colours, so that your space looks coordinated and balanced.

How to Choose the Right Paint Colour

Keep it simple

If you are painting the whole house, or at least several rooms, choose two to five colours AT MOST. Any more than that and there will be no flow. Of those colours, several of them should be from the same shade palette and you should use at least one to three of them in ALL the rooms that you are painting (for example: one neutral colour and two accent wall colours—more on this later!)

This doesn’t mean picking up one of those paint chip tabs at the local home improvement store and using ALL the colours from that one tab. However, by picking paints that are in related shades to use in different rooms, you can create the sense of flow without creating a sense of repetition.

Example? If your hallway is connected to your living room, which then flows through to your dining room, and you want to use shades of taupe, you can pull them from a similar shade palette and because their undertones will be the same, they will still create that flow without being stuck with the SAME colour throughout the house, on every wall.

Complementary or contrasting colours?

Even if you’re trying to make a statement with your colours, contrasting colours can be too harsh on the eye. A black and white room won’t give anyone the sense that they should get cozy with a blankie and a cup of tea! Red and blue are another team up that can be a bit overwhelming.

Instead, consider the undertones of your colours when choosing complementary shades. So for example, a violet colour will match well with shades of blue, as their undertones of blue are similar.

Match to your accents

If you have a favourite piece of art hanging in one of the rooms that will be repainted, consider pulling some shades and colours from it. It gives you a sense of unity in the space. Your inspiration for colour can be anything, including furniture pieces that you love.

TIP: If you have a small space, choosing a colour for your wall that is similar or the same as your larger furniture pieces, like the sofa, will actually gives the impression of more space.

Repeating a colour

Earlier, I said: “…you should use at least one to three of them in ALL the rooms that you are painting.” So of your chosen palette, you have a favourite colour that you pulled from a painting on your wall. Let’s say it’s a cornflower blue. You could use that shade on a wall in one room, an accent wall in another room, on the ceiling in the bathroom, or as part of new drapes or wall decor. If you do the same thing with the two or three colours, throughout your home, you’ll have cohesive variety without being too repetitive.

What about ceilings?

Colour is fine for ceilings if the room is a big space, but in a smaller or darker room, colour on the ceiling can make the space seem even smaller and darker. Instead, opt for neutral, light shades that still pickup the undertones of your wall colours. There are infinite varieties of ‘white’, if that’s your preference, which have undertones of red, blue, pink and so on; there’s always a way to find a shade of white that will work with and not in contrast to your other colours.

Do colours have meaning?

Sure they do! Colours evoke a lot of meaning, psychologically, so knowing what they can affect which ones you choose to use in any given space.

The first thing to understand is that people tend to view colours as either hot or cold. Red is hot, blue is cold. This is simply a matter of association. You associate red with the heat or the sun. You associate blue with water or they sky.

When picking colours for different rooms, you want to consider how they will be perceived. For example, warm colours are ideal for the bedroom where cool might not be the order of the day! That said, you don’t have to use red or anything close to it to evoke warmth. Many shades of brown / taupe / fawn, have undertones of red that can be warming too.

Of course, people have subjective reactions to colour, but these are some examples to show you, generally, how you can use different colours to evoke different feelings or perceptions:

Orange relates to creativity—It is a warm colour, that inspires optimism and would be ideal for a home office, for example. It’s a very social colour so it would also be great in a rec room.

Blue relates to serenity—Tranquility and peacefulness are the order of the day. Like calm waters in the Caribbean, light blue can help reduce stress and induce a sense of relaxation. It’s ideal for bathrooms.

Green is about harmony and well-being—It’s no accident that a certain coffee company has a green logo. The green represents wealth and health, sustainability and youth. It is perfect for a solarium, bathroom, or other healthful space!

Light shades are airy and open while darker, bolder shades of these colours tend to connote elegance and intensity. It really depends what you’re looking to achieve in the space you are colour designing!

Now with all that, you can go to the paint store and start looking at colours that you would like in your home. Many websites have tools where you can upload a photo of your room and ‘repaint’ it on the photo so that you can see what your chosen shade might look like. It’s a great way to get a sense of what will happen long before you start putting down the drop cloths and get painting!

Good luck!


Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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