How To Choose the Perfect Paint Color? The Secret Sauce is in the Light Folks


I'm a fan of color if you didn't know. There is something about seeing a cohesive color palette that makes me smile. In my home I have an orange room, 2 blue rooms, and I painted my kids' bathroom a cool turquoise! I've balanced these colors out by also including grays and tans in other rooms so my house doesn't look like a circus tent I promise. Now most people would never be this daring. I think the fear actually comes from not being able to pick a paint color confidently. And this is because most colors end up looking completely different from the paint chips in the store compared to when you put it up on your wall. The culprit: light. Let's dissect the different ways light plays a part in choosing a paint color.

Natural Light

This is also known as sunlight and is never the same throughout the day. As the amount and angle of the sun changes in a room, so will your paint colors. Sunlight gives off a warm glow during the early morning and evening hours and can make colors appear warmer. However; colors appear washed out midday during peak sunlight hours.

Room Direction

The exposure of sunlight on a room facing north, south, east or west plays a part in whether that "sassy brown" ends up looking like baby poo on your wall.

North: Sunlight is less direct during the day and has a cool, bluish tone. Warm colors in the red, orange and yellow family would complement this space.

South: In contrast, south facing rooms receive more sunlight during the day. Warm colors are intensified and look brighter. To offset this, cool colors in the blue and green family are recommended instead.

East: Sunlight in eastern facing rooms is warm and have a yellow tone through noon, then turn a cool blue through the evening. Warm colors are best suited for this space if often used later in the day or evenings.

West: Sunlight in this space is minimal and dull during the day however; is warm in the evening. If this space is being used often in the evening, cool colors would be best.

Artificial Light

The type of bulbs you use in a space can affect your paint colors too.

Incandescent: The yellow tone in these bulbs will enhance warm colors while muting cool hues.

Halogen: Resembles daylight and has the ability to make all colors look vivid.

Fluorescent: Will enhance cool colors while diminishing warm tones.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs): More flexible than other bulb types in that you can control the level of color. Complements most paint colors.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): Depending on the bulb, it can produce either a warm white or bluish white light.

Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Paint Color

-Try to determine the direction your room is facing. I'm horrible at this and if you are as well, I suggest downloading a compass app on your phone.

-Apply 2 coats of paint to a poster board and move it around the space during different times of the day to see how sunlight and artificial light affects the color.

-Turn on artificial lights even during the day to see how your paint color is affected.

-Remember that paint sheen also affects paint color. A glossy finish reflects light and will alter a color while a flat finish will be less reflective and showcase a true color.

Now that you know the secret sauce, go forth and conquer choosing a paint color like a pro. Your walls will thank me.

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