How to Pick the Perfect Paint Color for Your Room

So you’ve got this room you’ve been thinking about painting or making over forever, but somehow that project never quite makes it to the top of the “to do” list.  Would it have anything to do with choosing the right paint color? That’s definitely happened to me and it’s not a fun place to be.

Paint Fan Deck

It can be kind of scary, picking the perfect paint color for a room.  The last thing you want to do is waste time, effort or money on a color that ends up being a mistake.  If we are going to paint, we want it to turn out great the first time. Right?

So the question is, how do we get it right? What’s the best way to choose a paint color and know you’re going to love it when you’re done?

Glidden® has created some helpful videos and there’s one that specifically addresses the sometimes intimidating process of selecting the perfect paint color. Having been through the “paint-picking-process” a few times myself, I give their “Tips for Picking Paint Colors” video a big thumbs up. It’s the process I’ve used in recent years and have found really does work.

Tips for Picking Paint


Where to Start:

To begin with, Glidden® recommends choosing something in the room that contains colors that you love. It can be a rug, a fabric, even a piece of furniture. Next, choose a color (or colors) from the piece that you want to consider as a possible paint color for the room.

Here’s a Susan tip: You definitely don’t want to do it the other way around!  I did that years ago in my master bedroom. I wallpapered the room with a wallpaper I loved, then I spent years trying to find bedding to coordinate. Big mistake. I ended up having to go with a plain, white matelasse which wasn’t what I really wanted. Eventually, I removed the paper and did it the right way, chose the bedding and then picked my wall color based on the colors I loved in the bedding. Lesson learned!



So, start with an inspiration piece, then follow the next steps outlined in the video below.  The recommendations in the video make a lot of sense and really do help take much of the stress out of choosing a great paint color for your room.

In addition to several videos with great painting tips, Glidden® has another helpful site that I’ve mentioned here at BNOTP before, called My Colortopia. One of my fave tools at My Colortopia is one called, My Image Inspiration . It’s kind of cool how it works.

My Image Inspiration will let you upload a picture of an object (like a rug, fabric, painting, etc…) , highlight a color (or colors) you love, then it will suggest several paint colors that match or coordinate with the colors you chose from your inspiration piece!


I really do love the paint colors it chose. Aren’t they luscious!

My Image Inspiration 2

Don’t let the fear of choosing the wrong paint color stop you from creating the room you’ve envisioned for years.   Check out all the “How-to” videos Glidden® has available. They are brief, to the point and filled with helpful advice–even some good reminders for us seasoned paint warriors!

I have been sponsored by  the Glidden® brand paint for PPG  to write this post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

*If a post is sponsored or a product was provided at no charge, it will be stated in post. Some links may be affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. *

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  1. I think my biggest mistake was when I painted my whole kitchen the exact color that my sister had painted her bathroom. I loved the shade of green in her bathroom. However, her bathroom had one small window with sneers across it. My kitchen has a larger 6 Ft x 8ft window with only a valance and gets loads of natural light. The color that looked perfect in her bathroom was way too washed out on the walls in my kitchen. I had to start over with choosing a paint color that could handle all that natural light.

  2. When we moved to our new house the whole house was painted dull gray. It was very depressing but I guess it was a neutral for the folks that lived there. We had the hardest time choosing the right color. We have lots of windows and french doors, so there is a lot of light. But I wanted the color to warm up the house. So we went with Shaker Beige throughout except for the guest room and our master bath. Jeanne is right about the amount of light making such a huge difference in color choices. Even our Shaker Beige looks different in some rooms because of the amount/or lack of light in each room. It’s a big decision. And can be an expensive one if you choose something you really don’t love.

    • Jocelyn, one little trick I’ll do sometimes if I’m worried about a color is I’ll buy just a quart and some inexpensive poster board, then I’ll paid a couple of coats on the poster board. It’s like a GIANT paint swatch I can move around the room to see how the paint will look. I just tape it up with masking tape. That way I can try it beside the trim or behind a piece of furniture, etc… I never really thought about it but it would also be good to move around the house and to try it out in different rooms, if you were considering a particular color for the whole house. Also, paint colors tend to change at night. I kind of like that, though. 🙂

    • Carolyn Price says

      Who is the manufacturer of Shaker Beige?

  3. I moved from a home that I loved and had just finished decorating to another house. I kept all my paint swatches and had all the rooms in the new house painted those colours. What a big mistake. I am in a different area of the country, the windows are different , the light isn’t the same and I no longer look over the water. The colours did not look the same at all. I have the same furniture and fabrics but everything looks different. It’s not bad but just not the same. I should have lived in the house first and noticed the light. It’s difficult to paint long distance and from different coasts. Love your site

    • RoxAnne, I bet I would have done the same thing. Thanks so much for mentioning this…filing it away in my brain for later when I move some day. Great tip for anyone who might be moving!

  4. Love the way to choose paint colors! I have painted so much in all our different homes. Mostly loved the room,changed them to update and also hated them . Luckily paint is always an easy fix. I think most of all always remember to keep your house flowing with the colors. Nothing is worse than having each room in a different clashing color. Seen that too often and makes a home look small. Most of the model homes I have seen lately are doing neutral paint with just one wall a pop of color. It seems to work. Keeps it modern looking. Wouldn’t work for my home but liked it.

  5. Thanks Susan for doing this article. I’ve been reading about painted ceilings on Houzz and am very tempted to do our vaulted ceilings in a darker color than the walls. The ceilings are 9′ before the vaulted portion. Have you ever done this and, if so, were you pleased?

    • I haven’t done that, yet but I do love how it looks when a ceiling is painted a different color. Vickie, maybe you could do the poster board trick I do sometimes for walls. Buy a quart of the paint you’re thinking of using and maybe 4 poster boards (like we did projects on for school), paint the 4 posters with a couple of coats of the paint you are thinking of using and then masking tape them to the ceiling for a day or two to see how the color looks and feels. How a room feels is almost more important to me than how they “look,” if you know what I mean.

      • Excellent advice Susan. That’s exactly what I’ll do. You’re right…that should give me a good idea about the feel of a room. Thanks so much!

  6. I think choosing paint color is the most difficult job in the scheme of decorating. I keep reminding myself – it is just paint.

  7. Great tip, Susan!
    Now a “funny” story: I have a friend that went happily through her “Purple Phase” for a few weeks ignoring totally her complaining husband about that so feminine color, until… she had to decorate for Christmas: Seeing her all red decoration items against the dark purple painted walls gave her a nasty shock! Actually, it looked awful!
    I remember her crying like a baby and yelling at her poor hubby why in the world did he allow her to paint the walls in that ugly, ugly purple?! LOLOL (I swear I am a good friend and I really felt her pain! 😉 )
    ~Hugs to you~

  8. Hi Susan. I don’t reply here often, but I have your blog sent to my email and always enjoy reading it. I’ve been reading it so long, I feel I know you. Regarding this article about picking out paint, it takes me back quite a few years (about 40) to when I took a Home Decorating course. One of the things we learned was to pick our new colors for a room from the existing items in the room (a rug, painting, bedspread, etc.) just as you suggest. Even back then, paint stores were mixing paint colors to match items you had, although the colors were not quite as perfect as today. After I learned this and used it, I made this recommendation to several friends and family members. But did they listen. Of course not! They picked out some color in their head, painted it on the walls and promptly announced how they hated it. Still trying to help them out, I explained what I had learned about colors being very hard to remember and to explain to a paint mixer. But again, they would not listen. They spent much time and went through much grief (and many gallons of paint). So my advice is to listen to people that know the color concepts. They make life so much easier for you.

  9. Hi there…
    I am in the process of finding just the right home. I have a ton of painting ideas. I had never in all my 50 years painted a home inside, untill my last home. I was afraid to make a mistake. When I finally painted, I was thrilled!!! I did everything just like I wanted. And when I was done, I later discovered that I had painted my kitchen the same color that my kitchen was when I was first married! I plan on doing some unique colors in my new home’s walk in closets…where I will be the main one to see. I also like the idea of wallpaper or better yet, maps used as wallpaper!
    I read your blog every day, and really enjoy it!!!!!

  10. Belinda Turner says

    When I choose paint, I find something I want to use as the theme such as a cushion, chair or something then I bring home every possible paint tab then start a process of elimination. I look at the tabs in the room they will be used at different times of the day in all lighting situations. So I don’t start picking the color, I start by throwing out colors.

  11. something else to consider: painted my living room and dining room a really nice, traditional hawthorn yellow. I was VERY pleased. Fast forward two years later….I had to have a tree removed from the front of my house (sewer/plumbing issues), well I had no idea just how much shade that tree really provided (especially during the summer months!) Now sometimes, just sometimes, when I come downstairs to the living room, I think “sheesh, it’s really bright, did I leave on a light?” No chance. It’s just that the color now looks much brighter without the outside tree. Who would have thought! Love your blog, I’ve learned so much from it – from plantation shutters to landscaping to table settings…AND it’s so well organized!

  12. I’ve never had satisfactory results painting a room any shade of blue if it faces north.

  13. Susan,
    I follow your site like a religion! Your photos and articles are always interesting and insightful. I am currently in the process of trying to remodel my century farmhouse built in 1848 and you can’t imagine the problems I’m having. IF I could afford high-end everything it would be a bit simpler—but I can’t. I always used to bring home large carpet samples and wallpaper books. I place them in the rooms and study them at all times of the day and night for at least a week to determine if I can live with them. It worked. NOW, most retailers will not loan the books or large samples. Also, like you, I would try to center around an object or theme however these new “modern” trends have left me up against it trying to find affordable items in ANY arena. I started on my house in 1970 with mostly Ethan Allen furniture and I still love that look but few companies in my area cater to that style. I can’t find the lovely bedding and drapery fabrics I love so much. The same applies to appliances except for those wonderful pieces that exceed 3-5 thousand dollars. Could you please refer me to sources that might help? So far my library is perfect and haint blue is a must for my porch ceilings. My carpeting will be a medium beige for the most part and my kitchen is blue and white using Pfaltzgraff Yorktown dishes. My dining room is getting pierced tin tiles on the ceiling and decor is Jasperware Wedgewood blue. Id addition I have nearly 2 acres badly in need of new landscaping so I’ve been following your yard renovations closely. You can tell by this comment that my thoughts are scattered. I’m going to try and focus and wait for your reply. Keep up your good work. I’m sure you are an inspiration to many.
    Sincerely, Norma

    • Thanks so much, Norma! You know, the last few years when I purchased a few pieces of furniture to finish out a room, I ended up shopping in local antique/vintage stores…not the really expensive ones but the more affordable ones. I had to go a lot but eventually something I liked would show up…like the coffee table in my family room. So you may have to shop in those type places. Have you checked Country Curtains online for bedding or draperies. They have some really pretty bedding sets and draperies too…and their pricing is pretty good. The tin tiles sound beautiful! Your home sounds wonderful! XO

      • Susan, I really appreciate your answer. I am familiar with Country Curtains but I haven’t checked them in a while. I watch for local estate sales and I have found a few nice pieces that way. With gasoline prices so high and my husband nearly ready to retire I hesitate in driving too far these days but it looks like I will have to. My sister was an antique dealer and knows quality but her speciality is in primitives and my tastes are quite different. Perhaps when my rooms are completed I will send you some photos. I would love your opinion.

  14. I have an idea. Since I love your painting, and I think your painting would go very well with my pheasant pictures and other art work with earthy colors, I think I will write down the colors picked for you based on your beautiful painting and when the time comes to paint again I’ll just try the colors picked for you. Easy, peasy (I don’t think I’m kidding). I can see the golden bronze on the lower cabinets in my kitchen and the homemade butterscotch on my upper cabinets. Wow, wouldn’t that be pretty. I would make sample boards first since I don’t have much natural light.

  15. It is so funny that you posted this today. I went to Home Depot and brought home 4 swatches from Glidden to paint our living room. I want to go darker but I have natural wood and I do NOT want to paint that so I am not sure what to do.

    • Patty, are the walls paneled in the living room?

      • No the walls aren’t paneled. It is a large room with two picture windows so I have a lot of light. There is also a fireplace across one of the windows. I love natural wood in fact one of the picture windows has 16 panes of glass and I stripped them back to the wood. How will it look with dark paint and dark woodwork?

  16. Mary from Virginia says

    Thank you for these great tips. I could write a book on the numbers of times I have selected the wrong color and had to go back to the paint store.

    My funniest paint story is when we remodeled the main bathroom (you featured it here on BNOTP) The tile we selected had a lot of tan and some hints of gold. We started painting the walls Lady Finger by Benjamin Moore It was beautiful in the can, but in the bathroom with one small window and a very shady backyard- the paint looked dark. Next up was Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore. I had started painting the inside of the linen closet the with Manchester Tan. The next day my husband went to paint the second coat of the new paint (manchester tan) and picked up the can of lady finger paint. I walked in and looked at the closet and was dumbfounded as to why this Manchester Tan was drying so dark, then I burst out laughing. My husband didn’t see anything funny about the fact that he had picked up the Lady Finger paint can to paint with what he thought was Manchester Tan! I didn’t have the heart to make him paint it over, so the inside of linen closet is Lady Finger and the walls are Manchester Tan. Lesson learned, remove all mistake paint cans OUT of the room!

  17. I am going through paint picking angst right now. We just moved into our home and I am going to tackle my living room next. Unfortunately, it is a North facing room and I am having the hardest time picking a paint that doesn’t look muddy or cold. I’ve done the painting samples on poster board trick and still haven’t found my color. I think picking paint colors could be my least favorite part of decorating. I will get it done, eventually.

    Thanks for the info Susan.

  18. Great advice! I love pulling colors out of a fun object for inspiration.

    Aside from lighting, etc., one tip I try to tell my friends and family who approach me for advice is to choose colors you would wear. That way, you know you will definitely enjoy the color for quite some time. If you wouldn’t wear a chartreuse shirt than why would you paint a room that color? When I made the final paint decisions for my house, the gentleman at the counter noticed that all my paint chips were colors pulled from my Spartina 449 wallet. I never realized it, but I wear all the colors on my walls. 🙂

  19. Re painting as I have always done it myself a little trick that I learned (eons ago) when working with a colour chosen from a wallpaper, fabric etc.; match up the colour first, then …… have the formula ‘half cut’. The result will be a lighter colour with the same undertone. (If going for a more neutral, increase the cut.) For those working with a sample poster board; always frame it with a larger white one to ensure visual accuracy. ie: A poster board painted a yellow held up against a previously painted red wall will appear to be more orange than yellow. -Brenda-

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