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How to Pick the Right Color of Paint for Each Room in Your Home

Happy smiling woman painting interior wall of new house
lenetstan/Shutterstock

Redecorating your home often comes with a new paint job. How do you pick which colors to use in each room? That’s not an easy task for some people, but here are some tips that can help make it easier.

Before you head to the store to buy paint, here are a few things to consider when it comes to picking the right colors for each room of your home.

What Color are Your Fixtures and Other Semi-Permanent Things in the Room?

Look around the room. What color is the countertop in your kitchen? What color is the tile flooring in your kitchen and bathroom? What color is the carpeting in each room you need to paint? What colors are the window trim and the baseboard in those rooms?

You want to pick colors that fit in the same color scheme as all of those things. Or, if you want a bright and colorful room, you might want to shop for colors that are opposites on the color wheel, also known as complementary colors. Some of these include yellow with purple and blue with orange. These pairings are eye-catching and bold.

What Colors of Furniture are in that Room?

The wrong wall color choices might have you shopping for new furniture if you’re not careful. Always consider your current furniture and how the colors will go with the paint you purchase. The right paint hue can make a multi-colored couch or chair stand out more.

When it comes to furnishings—and your flooring—the right color of paint on the walls can pull the rest of the room together. The perfect color can make a mismatched set of furniture look intentional.

Colors and Emotions

kid's playroom with orange walls
New Africa/Shutterstock

Different colors have diverse effects on mood and emotion. You may have noticed when you spend a lot of time in a yellow room you feel more energetic, while a blue room will induce calm.

While you can read all sorts of technical studies on the subject, here is a breakdown of colors and the emotions associated with them (to help you pick which “feel” you want in each room for your home):

  • Red: For some people, red evokes thoughts of love. However, it’s also a color that is associated with anger. Be careful when picking red for a room. It’s best in a room you don’t spend a lot of time in, or don’t plan to do much relaxing in (not a color for a living room or bedroom). That said, using red only on one accent or exit wall can be a bold and exciting choice that doesn’t overwhelm you.
  • Orange: Orange is a happy and uplifting color. Orange is also considered a color that inspires creativity, so it’s a great choice for an art room or playroom.
  • Yellow: While yellow is a joyous color and can bring plenty of light to a room, it can also be a tiring color. It’s best used in rooms you don’t spend a lot of time in, but want the room to look cheerful and spacious. It’s a great choice for laundry rooms and small bathrooms. Or, consider painting only one wall in the room yellow, for a nice burst of color.
  • Green: Green is a refreshing color. It gives you thoughts of nature and the outdoors. There are many shades of green available, and it’s a color that works well in any room of the house.
  • Blue: Blue is a color that makes most people feel calm and relaxed. However, some people’s response is less than warm; they feel it’s a cold color. If blue makes you feel good and cozy, use it in the bedroom to evoke calm, or pick it as your living room color. A nice pale blue is subtle and will help lighten your home up.
  • Purple: Purple boosts imagination and is a color often associated with royalty. Purple is perfect for kid’s rooms and rooms in which you want to inspire creativity.

There are plenty of other colors, and many shades of each of the colors mentioned, but this offers you an idea of how color affects people. Black would be terrible, as it’s a color known for misery and loneliness. However, white can be pretty abrasive as well.

Lighter and Darker Colors

There’s something to consider with the tone of the color you choose as well. Darker colors will make a room seem smaller and more sheltered. Without ample lighting, a dark room will make it difficult to find joy in, to read in, or to do anything but sleep.

Dark wall colors don’t only revolve around black. A deep burgundy, darker browns and blues, and a deep pine green may be too dark if you’re using them in a family room, an office, or a room where you want to portray an image of size.

If you want a room that feels bigger and more inviting, opt for lighter colors. They brighten a room even with limited light. From pale blues and pinks to any shade of white, it’s not difficult to find a light color to make your room seem larger.

Bright, bold colors can also add size and inspiration to a room. Bold colors, like a vivid purple or turquoise, often work best as accent walls (where you paint just one wall in the room that color).  

Bring Home Paint Swatches

Before you whip out the credit card and have the paint department mix a bunch of colors, take some paint swatches home with you. This gives you a chance to check paint colors against your furniture, drapes, and other things in your home.

You can also sometimes purchase small paint samples of the colors you’re interested in so you can paint a streak on the wall and really get a feel for it.

What Colors Do You Like?

Don’t forget to pick colors that you like. No matter what the emotional response science says you may have to the color, and no matter what colors the rest of your room is, in the end, you want something that you like to look at.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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