5 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Paint Color

Paint is one of the most underestimated and underutilized decorating tools in a homeowner’s toolbox. So, if you’re looking to instantly freshen up your home, a new coat of paint is an excellent way to achieve it. The catch-22 is that paint comes in every color imaginable. But with so many choices, how do you choose colors that fit your design style? I have four easy tips to help demystify the color selection process.

Tip 1: Take Inventory

Before choosing colors, take inventory of two very important architectural styles. The first is the style of the outside of the home and the second is the architectural style and elements within the home. It is important to know if your home is Victorian, Craftsman, Georgian, Tudor style, to name a few. You always want the outside of the home, to complement and not clash with the inside of the home. This creates cohesiveness and harmony between the two.

Pro Tip: Take inventory of your block and neighborhood. Is it a neighborhood that is artistic using a bold color on its front doors to express individuality or it is a neighborhood that is more historic with Brownstones and Greystone structures? Do most of the homes use lighter shades or darker colors?


Next, look at the existing architecture within your home. Permanent elements, like exposed beams, built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a spiral staircase, pillars, exposed brick walls, fireplaces, and the shape of archways. Decide on the unique architectural feature within your home that will look amazing with a new coat of paint.

Tip 2: Find your Muse

What is it around your house that stands out to you and stimulates your senses? Is there an accent piece that you can build a look around? I like to use this method when narrowing down color options. Maybe your room has full access to natural light making it your “happy place” and the perfect place for your plants and an accent wall. Perhaps it is a piece of artwork or a wall of family photos that would benefit from a complementary color palette. It could be anything, but it has to be your muse. It is the perfect starting point when thinking about how you can utilize paint colors to inspire and highlight the most important features or elements within your home.  

Tip 3: Color Wheel

While your muse is important, it is just as important to know how you want to feel in the space. This is where the color wheel comes in handy. The color wheel can be broken into two sections: warm colors and cool colors. Warm tones like reds, yellows, and oranges make you think about the sun. These colors make you feel warm and spark feelings of comfort. Cool colors, on the other hand, include colors, like blues, greens, and purples and they create more soothing and calming effects.

Join the iDesignFromWithin community and download my free guide, Design Like A Boss! 10 Top Designer Secrets Revealed. It is a must-read packed with designer tips. Design secrets number one and number two are important to paint tips that help you make the best color selection for your space.

Pro Tip: Consider choosing a monochromatic look -colors in the same color family. A monochromatic look is a beautiful and elegant way to choose paint colors. The colors are guaranteed to complement. You cannot make a mistake!

Tip 4: Paint Sheens

You are almost there. With your muse and your range of colors in mind, let’s talk about paint finishes. What is a paint finish? It is what your paint color looks like once it dries. Some call it the paint sheen. Here are common sheens and how to use them.


The Look

Best Placement

Flat Paint

No shine, hides imperfections, low traffic

Ceilings, inside closets

Matte Paint

Low luster, hides imperfections, wipeable



Soft velvet, moderate traffic, wipeable

Dining Room


Soft pearl, moderate to high traffic, very wipeable

Any room, trim, doors


Semi-shiny, very, very wipeable

Trim, doors, cabinetry


Glass-like, very, very wipeable

Cabinetry, furniture

Pro Tip: The higher the sheen the more wipeable it is. However, the higher the sheen the more imperfections you can see as well. Make sure your surface is clean and super smooth to prevent seeing imperfections when dry. 

Knowing how you want the finish to look and perform is imperative! Satin is a great, all-around versatile paint finish. It is the happy medium of all the finishes. It is durable, great for moderate to high traffic areas and homes with children and pets. Not to mention, if you like to scrub your walls periodically, satin is the way to go.

Tip 5: Test Drive

Try before you buy! This is the most important step before purchasing your paint. Do not be afraid to ask for a paint sample. All of the paint brands have paint samples in either a larger color swatch or small sample containers. If you are undecided on a color or you are in between two-color choices, purchase a small sample of paint and paint the color on a large poster board(s). Place the board on the wall that you are considering painting and leave it up for a few days.

Pro Tip: You want to see how it looks in the morning, noon, and night. This is the best way to solidify your color choice and any misunderstandings you have about the paint color.

You now have the right tools in your toolbox to choose paint color without feeling nervous about making a mistake. So, no matter what muse, color, or finish you choose select colors that speak to your heart and make you feel happy within your home. Happy Painting!