Choosing paint colors for your walls can feel stressful and confusing. Picking a color is such a big commitment, and you know that paint colors can look quite different on your walls than they do on those paint store color strips. But it’s an understatement to say that I’ve chosen paint colors for quite a few rooms over the course of my life, and I’ve learned to follow a few basic guidelines:
When it doubt, choose classic, flattering hues. Always remember that your choice of paint colors shouldn’t be influenced by fashion or by attempts to be original. You can be trendy and original with your art or the fabric on a chair, but the walls of your main rooms should be colors that don’t overshadow your furnishings and which flatter your skin. Think warm beiges, pale pinks (look for pinks so pale they look like white), warm light blues and lilacs.
Go bold in small spaces. You’ve probably heard that you should paint small rooms white to make them look bigger, but sometimes it makes more sense to paint tiny spaces (like powder rooms, studies and small dining rooms) a rich jewel tone or a vibrant teal. Pick a high gloss paint finish and light the room well with multiple light sources, including lights in the corners. Everything in it will look beautiful, and you’ll feel like you’re inside a jewel box.
Don’t forget the ceilings. Instead of painting ceilings plain old white, paint them a lighter shade of the color you’re using on the walls–this will create a beautifully polished effect in the room. How light you should go depends upon the room. If you want to make ceilings feel higher and the room feel more expansive, choose a very light shade for the ceilings. To make room feel more intimate, choose a darker tone.
Pick the right finish. It’s essential to choose a paint finish that suits your needs. If your walls are uneven, go with an eggshell finish, which will mask imperfections better than glossy paint. But high-gloss paint is easier to clean (I use Bon Ami to get rid of scuffs), looks beautiful in small spaces (see above) and is a great way to highlight trim and moldings. I recommend steering clear of flat finishes, as marks are most noticeable with this finish.