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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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6 Tips for Picking Paint Colors
April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Paint can be one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to change your home’s interior.  It can also be very intimidating to select a color.  How many shades of beige do there really need to be, right?

picking paint

Well, paint is important, so you need to develop some confidence to select a great paint color. 

Why is paint important? Let me give you 3 reasons:

  1. 1. Paint is usually one of the first things people change when they buy a home, redecorate or think about putting their house on the market.
  2. 2. Paint should generally be redone about every 7-10 years. Times change and color schemes can become ‘dated’.
  3. 3. Paint is a very affordable way to dramatically update your home.

I am going to give you 6 tips to picking paint colors.  If you don’t like to read, or would rather watch, you can click here (or on the photo below) to watch my most recent appearance on Studio 512 where I provided pointers on how to pick paint.


Here are my 6 tips for picking paint colors:

1. Pick paint last in your design scheme

Develop your design scheme first and chose the paint color last.  There are so many colors to choose from!  It is much easier to match a paint to a piece of fabric than the other way around.

2. Understand the mood you want to evoke: calm or energetic

Understand your emotional goals. Color impacts your mood, so it is important to understand the psychological impact the paint choice will have on you, your family and your visitors. 

Know that brighter colors (reds, yellows, oranges) are more energetic and vibrant.  They are often used in fast food restaurants because they want everyone to eat quickly and move on!  Softer colors (pale blues, greens and creams) are often used in salons and spas, places where owners want you to feel calm and peaceful. 

Neither is right or wrong, they just have a different emotional dynamic.

3. Pick from the top of a paint swatch strip – lighter values for day to day use

Look at the ‘paint strip’ and know that the further down on the strip you go, the darker your wall color will be.  Dramatic color is fantastic, but for everyday rooms, you probably want something more subdued. 

When choosing a whole house color I almost always pick from the top of the strip for the main rooms. The color will feel darker on your walls than the strip.

To select different colors for rooms within a home, especially an open plan home, consider using different colors on the same strip for flow.  That way all the undertones are the same and the colors will blend well.

In these 3 photos, I used colors from SW (Sherwin Williams) 7028 strip, going lighter to darker in various rooms throughout the home.

SW 7029 Agreeable Gray in the master bedroom:gray bedroom

SW 7031 Mega Greige on the great room walls and SW7030 applied with a wash effect on the ceiling panels:dining

SW7032 Warm Stone in the powder bath:powder bath

Always, always test paint before you have the room painted, even if you think you like the sample.  Try to test a 4ft x 4ft area on different walls in the room.  Be sure to use enough coats to cover the paint underneath. The color might look different on different areas of the room.  Chose based on the part of the room you see/look at the most and the color you like the best when you are most likely to be home.  For example, if you are away at work all day, the color you like best at night might be the better choice than the color you see at noon, when you are not often home.

Don’t judge too quickly. Paint is a big change and will probably take some getting used to.

Color preference is often personality based. Don’t discount white and don’t be afraid of going bold in particular rooms such as guest bedrooms, powder rooms and dining rooms.

In these two dining rooms, the size, layout and style of the furnishings are all similar, but the room feeling is dramatically different simply due to the paint color.

Heather Scott Home & Design, Dining Room

Dining Room

4. Understand the finish choices

As soon as you have hired a painter, or go to purchase paint, someone is going to ask you:  “What finish do you want?”. 

This is the standard Heather Scott Home & Design approach to picking a finish:

  • Typically flat or eggshell on main walls
  • Eggshell or Satin on the walls if you have children and pets
  • Satin in wet areas like kitchens and baths
  • Semi gloss on trim and cabinets (preferably oil based on cabinets for durability)
  • Flat on ceilings

5. Don’t forget the ceiling!

Speaking of ceilings, do not forget to paint the ceiling.  In my opinion, a neutral white is the best choice, especially when your ceilings are low. For me, this makes the ceiling feel higher and the room larger.

Pale blue is also nice if it works with your color scheme.  Don’t be afraid of using a bold color on the ceiling as a design element when you want to add drama without spending much.  

6. Tried and true: where to start when picking

If you just really do not have a clue about where to start with a paint color, I suggest going with a color you know ‘works’.  How do you know it works?  It is ‘tried and true’.  You can find ‘tried and true’ colors via the Benjamin Moore ‘Historical Colors’ collection (colors that start with HC) and the Sherwin Williams ‘Essentials’ & ‘Fundamentally Neutral’ sections of their paint offerings.

To get an idea of what a particular paint looks like in a real room, do a Google image search of the paint name and you will see photos of rooms painted in that color. The more popular the paint (a good sign), the more images you will find.

If you are still stumped, check out my “Popular Paint Colors” Pinterest Board.  You can get to it by clicking here: Popular Paint Colors.

heather scott home paint pin board

I hope this post has really helped pump up your confidence when it comes to picking paint colors for your home.  If you embark on an interior painting project, be sure to share with us some of the photos of your rooms !