Choosing a new paint color can be daunting. We’ve all been there. Taking a trip to the paint store, coming home with an armful of swatches and test pots, painting little colored squares on the wall, holding swatches up and squinting, trying our best to trick our eyes into thinking they are the Photoshop paint bucket tool. All the while confusing ourselves even more than when we first began this color journey.

Well I am here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be this hard. This should be an exciting and fun process, not a stressful one. With a few insider tips and tricks I’m going to show you how to choose the right paint color for your room without the unnecessary stress and umming and aahing that usually comes with it.

Natural light

First and foremost, how much natural light does your room get? Light is probably the most important factor when considering a new paint color. If your room is dark then it’s best to avoid painting it white. It’s a long held belief that painting any room white will brighten it up and make it feel larger, not so when your room is dark. The white will end up looking grey and make the room feel dull and lifeless. In darker rooms it’s best to go with brighter colors to make up for the lack of natural light. Dark colors also work well in darker rooms contrary to popular belief. It will help to create an intimate and moody space especially when offset with light colored artwork. Don’t be scared to go darker.

If the room benefits from an abundance of natural light then you can basically get away with any color you wish. White will look fresh and clean but also using bright colors in brightly lit rooms can also be lots of fun. Greys can work well too as instead of appearing dull they help to subdue an overly bright room and it can look great.

Is white just white?

It isn’t uncommon to hear someone say “just paint it white”. “Just painting it white” may not always be the easy option. There are a multitude of whites out there that can make it just as hard to choose one as if you were picking any other color. Off white, cream, ivory, eggshell, vanilla. There are so many variations of white which one do you choose?

As I mentioned previously, if your room doesn’t have much natural sunlight then it’s best to steer clear of white completely unless you want your room to look uninspired and dull. If you do want to create a light and bright feeling in a room with limited light then I’d suggest going with a warmer white with beige undertones to freshen up the look of your space. If your room benefits from a lot of sunlight then you could veer into the cooler whites and light greys, just make sure to use color in your decorating to avoid your room looking too sterile. I would also avoid using untinted white as it can often make rooms feel stark and cold.


It’s important not to be afraid of color, but it also helps to know where and when to use certain colors. Bold and bright colors such as oranges, yellows and reds are best used in main living areas in your home and rooms that don’t get much natural light. Cooler colors such as blues, greens and purples are much more soothing and work well in rooms where relaxation is the main focus such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

If you are designing a bedroom it’s advisable to steer clear of red completely. This is entirely subjective, but the sole purpose of a bedroom is to create an environment of rest and relaxation. Red has been shown to increase adrenaline and induce feelings of anger in some people, the last thing we want to feel when trying to relax and drift off to sleep.

When to choose paint

This brings us to the final and probably the most important tip I can give you how to choose the right paint color for your room. Paint should be the absolute last thing you choose. There’s an abundant, almost infinite number of different paint colors available whereas when it comes to bedding, furniture, window treatments and accessories you have a much more limited choice, and even less so in the pieces you already own.

Do yourself a big favor and save yourself the headache by following this simple rule. First step, find a piece of art you absolutely love. Use this piece as the basis for your room’s color scheme. Next step, go shopping! Choose accessories, window treatments pillows etc that all coordinate well with your scheme. Once you have all these purchases out the way, put everything together and use a paint atlas or paint swatches to choose a color that looks great with your scheme. Believe me, it’s much easier to do it this way than it is to choose a wall color from scratch and then attempt to match everything to it.

In summary when it comes to choosing a paint color there really aren’t as many rules are you’d expect, just make sure the color you choose helps to improve the look and feel of the room. Remember, avoid whites and greys where you can in darker rooms, avoid the use of overly bright colors such a red in bedrooms and in rooms that benefit from natural light you have the license to choose any color you wish.

Following my suggestion to choose your paint color last after selecting everything else for your room helps you see the bigger picture. This will stop the feeling of being overwhelmed by a multitude of colors in a paint shop and will give you a clear picture of what you want. It will also narrow down your selections to a small handful which will make choosing the perfect paint color for your room easy and fun. Good luck and happy painting!


Text by Joel Pesaturo